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Capacity building in science and technology is central to improving lives in the world's poorest nations, the Indonesian President has told government officials gathered in Bali for the fourth preparatory meeting for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD).

In her opening address to the ministerial segment of the meeting on 5 June, President Megawati Soekarnoputri said that "a nation will enjoy a high quality of life if it has qualified human resources, [which give it] a sufficient ability to master, develop and apply science and technology".

"With such capacity at their disposal, nations will be able to develop their economic strengths and accomplish their well-being."

The Indonesian President also called for science and technology to be made "easily accessible and affordable" to developing countries, "with a view to meeting development necessities and at the same time to sustaining conservation measures over natural resources and the environment."

Her emphasis on science and technology was echoed later in the ministerial discussions, when the importance of partnerships in facilitating the uptake of modern technology in developing countries was stressed.

A representative of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), speaking on 6 June, said that many developing countries face major challenges in acquiring and using modern technologies. She noted a divide between the technology 'innovators', the technology 'adapters' and those countries that are technologically 'disconnected'.

"Technology is central to achieving sustainable development," she said, calling on the Summit, which is to be held in Johannesburg in August, to provide "strong outcomes" on technology.

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