Wednesday 22

OECD's virtual conference on Technology in and for Society: Innovating well for inclusive transitions

Posted by RRI Tools - Eva Zuazua Schücker on 22 Dec 2021

A couple of weeks ago - on 6-7 December, 2021 - took place an international (virtual) conference on Technology in and for Society, organized by the OECD. During these two days, more than 650 participants joined from more than 60 countries around the world. 

The event brought together discussions on the transformative potential of emerging technology with the necessity of good governance. Participants asked "how can we innovate both more and well, i.e. within inclusive processes, with values at the centre, and with lasting positive impact?" The conference explored the values, design principles, and a possible practical agenda for leveraging good governance for critical sociotechnical transformations. 

An initial set of findings from the conference are set out below and over the coming weeks, the OECD will prepare a conference report to help inform their future work and efforts to meet the urgent needs of policymakers and citizens.


The multi-stakeholder OECD conference, “Technology in and for Society,” explored values, design principles, and mechanisms for leveraging good governance for critical sociotechnical transformations. Transforming energy, agrifood, health, and manufacturing systems will require not only major sociotechnical changes but also good technology governance. Conference participants identified important knowledge gaps and policy deficits, including e.g., societal capacities to assess, promote, steer and cope with longer-term sociotechnical change in an inclusive way.

The conference identified avenues for realising more just and effective technological transitions, for example:

  • enriching societal deliberation on the values, purposes and agendas of science and technology;
  • finding mechanisms for feeding the results of those deliberations into science and technology policy;
  • interdisciplinary research and engineering that promotes diversity and integrates values;
  • rethinking foresight and technology assessment to be more goal-oriented and inclusive;
  • expanding the tech governance toolkit to include upstream elements like “ethics by design” and soft law.

The conference examined these and other elements in three technological contexts: neurotechnology; carbon management technologies like carbon capture storage and utilisation (CCUS); and vaccine development. For all three areas, responsible innovation will require greater attention to governance, inclusive and multi-stakeholder processes and cross-sector cooperation, and alignment with goals articulated by society. 

At the end of the conference, some speakers called on the OECD for the development of further policy ideas to harness technology for good and the formulation of common principles to make sure innovation takes place within inclusive processes, with values at the centre, and with lasting positive impact.


Did you miss the conference? You can now re-watch any of the sessions on the conference website.

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