The 4th Industrial Revolution Work for All
The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is at the center of the digital transformation of societies. In the manufacturing and services sector, it is characterized by the convergence of advanced digital production technologies that include artificial intelligence, 3D printing, big data and robotics, with advances in energy storage, and energy generation transforming the global industrial landscape. This has led to the concept of achieving a smart society—learning as it works—with continuous optimization.
The Abu Dhabi Declaration, adopted at the eighteenth session of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) General Conference in 2019, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution Conference Room paper briefing Member States in 2021, prompted attention to the emergence of frontier technologies. UNIDO’s latest Medium-term Programme Framework (MTPF) responds to this call, identifying digital transformation and innovation as one of the three focus areas for UNIDO to advance inclusive and sustainable industrial development (ISID).
The UNIDO 4IR Strategic Framework aims to mainstream a digital, gender-responsive, sustainable transformation and scale up digital capabilities in its Member States. In this context, UNIDO continues to contribute to multi-stakeholder dialogue and partnerships in United Nations forums. UNIDO acknowledges the different levels of development and priorities in developing countries’ implementation of the 4IR, aligning those to relevant industrial sectors and value chains, and aid in post-COVID activities in relation to regional development priorities. With the goal to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 9—to build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation—and ISID, the UNIDO 4IR Strategic Framework strives to enable everyone to address the challenges and reap the opportunities of the 4IR.
UNIDO advocates a people-centric approach to the 4IR, in which innovation and advanced technologies serve human welfare and environmental sustainability. Subsequently, UNIDO aims to support the positive effects of the 4IR and to mitigate the negative impacts of technology to prosperity, particularly to vulnerable groups such as women and youth. To resolve concerns of inequalities of vulnerable groups under-represented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) sectors in the 4IR landscape, UNIDO’s role is to be inclusive and to differentiate according to regional needs aligned with UNIDO’s frameworks. The key elements to make the 4IR work for all include skills and capacity building, digital transformation at firm level, innovation ecosystems, partnerships, investment and infrastructure, governance, technologies and innovation policies.