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UM Risk Science Center director co-authors World Economic Forum white paper on technology innovation and sustainable development

January 24, 2011, University of Michigan School of Public Health release

MaynardANN ARBOR, Mich. -- With the average lifetime of a company on the Fortune 500 estimated at less than 30 years, the impact of technology on business has never been greater. At the same time, businesses are under increasing pressure to be sustainable.

A new white paper published by the World Economic Forum, co-written by Andrew Maynard (pictured at left), director of the University of Michigan Risk Science Center and chair, and Tim Harper, director, CIENTIFICA Ltd., examines the challenges and opportunities of developing and using emerging technologies within an increasingly complex and interconnected society. It specifically addresses actions needed to help translate new technology into solutions to global challenges.

According to Maynard, sustainable progress is more dependent than ever on technology.

“Access to clean water, healthy food, sustainable energy and effective medicine will become increasingly critical over the next few decades. Yet the global prognosis does not look good unless we can learn to harness technology in new ways. Globalization, unsustainable resource demands and increasing environmental impacts mean we can no longer rely on 20th century technology approaches to deliver 21st century technology solutions.”

In the paper Maynard and Harper recommend that governments, industry and academia act on seven fronts, including increasing access to intelligence on new technologies; building new partnerships and engaging more effectively with stakeholders; re-examining how innovative ideas are translated into solutions; and rethinking the process of global technology governance.

Andrew Maynard is also the chair of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies. The World Economic Forum 2011 annual meeting takes place Jan. 26-30 in Davos-Klosters , Switzerland .

Link to the full white paper, “Building a Sustainable Future: Rethinking the Role of Technology Innovation in an Increasingly Interdependent, Complex and Resource-constrained World.

Contact: Laura Bailey, (734) 647-1848 (734) 764- 1552 Baileylm@umich.edu