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  • Estimated funding gap of $2.5 trillion per year to implement the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda now even wider due to the pandemic
  • 4IR has the potential to increase resource efficiency and help shift towards a more circular economy
  • Achieving gender equality in the manufacturing sector depends on eliminating the gender skills gap that exists in both developed and developing countries
  • Senior representatives from UNIDO, John Cabot University Rome, Kaspersky, The EuroScience Open Forum, University of Tokyo, and CloudMinds debate the topic of ‘Exploring the future of manufacturing and industries: Industry 4.0’s true potential in advancing the attainment of the SDGs and shaping Society 5.0’ at the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit’s Virtual Edition (#GMIS2020)


Hannover, Germany – August 18, 2020: Global foreign direct investment (FDI) in developing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America is projected to plunge by 25 to 50% in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, threatening the world’s ability achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it emerged during a discussion involving leading experts from UNIDO, John Cabot University Rome, Kaspersky, The EuroScience Open Forum, University of Tokyo, and CloudMinds at the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (#GMIS2020) Virtual Edition. In spite of this, the pandemic provides an opportunity to accelerate progress towards collaborative solutions to development issues, most notably to advance manufacturing technologies and digitalisation.

Dr. Bernardo Calzadilla-Sarmiento, Managing Director, Directorate of Digitalization, Technology and Agribusiness, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) said that prior to the crisis there was an estimated investment gap of $2.5 trillion per year to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the current situation risks aggravating this trend, which could amplify existing challenges in global production.

“The fourth industrial revolution has the potential to contribute to increased resource efficiency and help shift towards a more circular economy,” Calzadilla-Sarmiento said. “And this is the big opportunity we have to take into account, that we need to recover from the pandemic in a different manner.”

Innovation, knowledge sharing, and strategic partnerships are vital to realise the digital transformation for achieving the SDGs and inclusivity in sustainable industrial development, he added. However, we need to make sure that nobody is left behind while pursuing future manufacturing with advanced technologies. This means ensuring inclusion of vulnerable groups, as COVID-19 has exposed the problem of inequality, especially for women and youth. Another challenge is to provide adequate skills training to effectively use these technologies.

Dr. Alina Sorgner, Assistant Professor of Applied Data Analytics, John Cabot University Rome, said advancing gender equality in the manufacturing sector would require organisations to first address the gender skills gap, which is very apparent in both developed and developing countries.

“We need to apply different approaches in different countries, because developing countries might have different problems which lead to this gender skills gap,” she said. “It might be that there is a strong digital gender divide, which means that women don’t always have the necessary resources to acquire digital technologies and digital skills.”

She advocated adopting locally tailored approaches to gender equality which reflect cultural values and industrial structures at the regional level. “This is very problematic in the context of developing countries in particular, because we often do not have regional data. So, our goal is to collect more data on the regional level and to promote local approaches in order to promote gender equality in manufacturing.”

Andrey Suvorov, Head of Business Development, IIoT Cyber Security, Kaspersky, acknowledged the existence of a skills gap and said that certain skills will become increasingly important and relevant for workers in the manufacturing sector to stay competitive in the coming years.

“Regardless of the technologies and research we have all been conducting during the era of the fourth industrial revolution, we are faced with a big challenge which is the fundamental skills gap for the industrial revolution,” he said.

He singled out cybersecurity for special attention, saying that it had shifted from being a specialist discipline to becoming a priority at the boardroom level. “Cyber risks are either number one or number two priority for big corporations, which means paying special attention and understanding to those,” he said.

Professor Stefano Fantoni, Champion of the EuroScience Open Forum - ESOF 2020 Trieste, and the President of the Trieste International Foundation of Freedom and Progress of Science, emphasised that it is essential for educational initiatives that are aimed at introducing advanced technologies to have practical as well as theoretical learning elements.

“When you are thinking of problem-solving education, you really need to have participation in projects, you have to learn not only to know things but also how to do things, and that is actually something which is generally missing,” he said.

Dr. Yusuke Kajihara, Associate Professor of the Institute of Industrial Science at the University of Tokyo, said that to introduce new technologies, countries need to have the right balance between cyber and physical fields, which in developing countries is often absent.

“The governments of developed countries need to take the initiative for introducing strong cyber fields in developing countries,” he said. “The introduction should pay off after several years because it encourages strong industrial collaboration between governments and industries.”

Bill Huang, Founder and CEO of CloudMinds, said the introduction of 5G networks would aid the rapid convergence of robot intelligence towards human intelligence for various uses.

“The use of robotics in the next generation industrial revolution is becoming a reality, enabled by the development of artificial intelligence, mobile communications and robotics technologies, especially with the combination of advanced sensors, and much more compact and much more dense battery technologies,” Huang said.

He added that it is easier to teach younger generations who grew up on mobile phones, not only in the developed world, but also in developing countries like China and India, to train robots because of their familiarity with gaming. “I believe that in a developing country, and an emerging economy, there's an opportunity for people to train robots so, they don't need to become a migrant worker, they can work from their own country. I think that's a much better way to develop the economy.”

Weixi Gong, Chief of the Investment and Technology Promotion Division at UNIDO, concluded the session by saying that Industry 4.0 and Society 5.0 will alter the way we live and work and it is the job of international organisations, such as UNIDO, to ensure that no one is left behind on this transformative journey, and that everyone will be enabled to reap the benefits of these developments in the era of the fourth industrial revolution.

Hosted by Yuko Yasunaga, the Head of UNIDO ITPO Tokyo, the virtual panel discussion on ‘Exploring the future of manufacturing and industries: Industry 4.0’s true potential in advancing the attainment of the SDGs and shaping Society 5.0’ is the eighth session of the #GMIS2020 Digital Series that will lead up to the Virtual Summit on September 4-5, 2020. The session is available to watch on-demand at

Through its Virtual Editions, the third edition of the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (#GMIS2020), a joint initiative by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), is bringing together high-profile thought-leaders and business pioneers from around the world to shape the future of manufacturing, discuss the impact of pandemics on global value chains, and highlight the role of fourth industrial revolution (4IR) technologies in restoring economic and social activities.

Participants can watch the GMIS Virtual Summit and Digital Series by registering on the following link: The programme agenda is available on the following link:

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