Youth discuss how to innovate responsibly and ‘secure our common future’

July 2nd, 2020

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students joined four UN-led online workshops last week to engage in discussions and activities about the impact of emerging technologies on global peace and security.

The four sessions, which were part of the “Responsible Innovation for a Secure Environment” (RISE) Virtual Workshop Series, brought together over 30 students from Nanyang Technological University, the National University of Singapore and the Singapore University of Technology and Design. The students remained scattered across Asia and the Pacific due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and they expressed appreciation that the organizer’s quick pivot to remote workshops and engagement tools enabled them to still participate.

Organized by the Office for Disarmament Affairs (ODA) and its United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific (UNRCPD), the interactive and scenario-based programme encourages tertiary students in STEM fields to think for themselves about the harmful and beneficial potential repercussions of new technologies as well as the stakeholders involved in their development and the responsibilities of individuals and organizations.

Students used online “jam boards” to map out different opinions as they worked simultaneously in a single shared space.

In receiving introductions to concepts like “responsible innovation” and the Secretary-General’s 2018 Agenda for Disarmament, students engaged in virtual debates about how to prioritize different technological and social challenges, what the implications of different choices might be, and what the future holds for peace and disarmament.

By engaging the next generation of industry leaders, engineers and scientists and providing them with the tools and frameworks necessary to be responsible innovators, the RISE programme is intended to bring fresh perspectives to these complex issues while simultaneously creating and supporting a culture of responsible behaviour, accountability and adherence to norms, rules and principles for responsible innovation.

Students from all three universities met online to learn about the disarmament implications of emerging technologies.

The activity forms part of the Responsible Innovation for a Secure Environment in Asia and the Pacific (RISE-AP) project, aimed at building capacities for responsible innovation and highlighting its importance for fostering development, as well as mitigating security and arms risks, and ensuring the peaceful applications of science and technology. The project follows the 2018 commitment of the Secretary-General to “engage and work with scientists, engineers and industry to encourage responsible innovation of science and technology”, and “to ensure its application for peaceful purposes”. Responsible innovation is a key element of the Secretary-General’s Agenda for Disarmament, “Securing Our Common Future”, and central to the work of ODA and UNRCPD.

For further information on the Office for Disarmament Affairs’ Responsible Innovation activities please contact Ms. Jane E. Lawson, Peace and Disarmament Education Coordinator for Asia and Pacific, at, and Mr. Charles Ovink, Associate Political Affairs Officer, at