Intellectual property (IP) tools have been identified as crucial for achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), according to a recent conference co-organized by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and Portugal. The conference, held in Lisbon from May 29-30, 2023, brought together representatives from over 85 countries to discuss how IP, including patents, trademarks, and industrial designs, can foster innovation and drive economic and social development in alignment with the SDGs.
WIPO Director General Daren Tang emphasized the importance of IP in addressing global challenges and propelling growth and development. He stated, “Our belief is that IP is part of the solution to our common global challenges, and that it can be a powerful catalyst for growth and development, as well as an important tool for translating great ideas into impact that will help us meet the SDGs and leave no one behind.”
In addition to protecting innovative ideas and breakthrough technologies, IP also plays a crucial role in the distribution of lifesaving medicines and groundbreaking discoveries to areas where they are most needed. By supporting research in the life sciences and facilitating market access, IP can ensure that impactful solutions reach those who need them the most.
The conference also featured guest speakers who highlighted the pivotal role of IP in achieving the SDGs. Amina J. Mohammed, the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group, stressed that innovation and industrial property are essential in generating new ideas and solutions for accelerating progress across all SDGs.
Portugal President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa emphasized the significance of industrial property in sustainable economic development. He acknowledged that IP enables the continued existence of economic activities and acts as a strong driver of innovation, legal protection, and collaboration between academia and business.
Catarina Sarmento e Castro, Minister of Justice of Portugal, underscored the need for a paradigm shift in perceiving industrial property as a cultural component of sustainability. She mentioned the establishment of an intellectual property court with specialized judges as an initiative to create an atmosphere conducive to the protection of industrial property rights.
The conference also featured contributions from experts such as European Patent Office President António Campinos and European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) Deputy Executive Director Andrea Di Carlo. They highlighted studies quantifying the impact of effective IP ecosystems on European Union economies, further bolstering the argument for IP as a catalyst for growth, development, and employment.
Under the theme of “Thinking about industrial property, sustainability, and the future of the planet,” the conference facilitated productive discussions on various topics. These include gender equality and the contributions of women to innovation and IP, green technologies for a sustainable future, adaptation and innovation in traditional industries, the significance of natural and cultural heritage in the economy, the role of governments in promoting the IP system, and the economic and societal impact of IP studies and reports.
The conference, jointly organized by the Portuguese Institute of Industrial Property (INPI), WIPO, the European Patent Office (EPO), and the European Union Intellectual Property Institute (EUIPO), attracted over 350 participants from national and international organizations, government officials, private sector representatives, and academia. The event served as a platform for exchanging ideas and insights on the crucial role of IP and innovation in addressing global challenges and achieving the SDGs.