Ladies and gentlemen,
It seems clear to me that there are going to be three pillars on which the sustainable future is built: youth, women, and technology.
Let me take these in turn.
Youth clearly are the future, and young people are leading the way in the use of ICTs in every part of their lives – to communicate, to learn, to socialize, to create, to amuse themselves – and of course to find work.
Young people are also, without a doubt, the most innovative section of society, and we are seeing the most incredible ideas coming out from young people in terms of smart new ways to harness the power of ICTs to drive social and economic progress – especially from young people in developing countries.
This was made abundantly clear just two weeks ago, at the Global Youth Summit in Costa Rica, where young people from around the world, onsite and online, came together to put forward their vision of the future – which will be put to the General Assembly next week by Laura Chinchilla, the President of Costa Rica.
Concerning the second pillar, we need more women playing a more active role in the work place, the market place and the community.
We are working hard at ITU to make that happen – including through our Girls in ICT Portal, and the annual Girls in ICT Day which takes place on the fourth Thursday in April.
ITU has already supported 120 countries in organizing International Girls in ICT Day events, and thereby empowered over 70,000 girls around the globe.
The ITU ‘Bright Future’ report identifies challenges and delivers solutions: to create demand among girls and young women for careers in ICT; to ensure that girls and women have access to STEM studies; and to encourage ICT businesses to attract, recruit, retain and promote women.
Building on this is another key initiative we are undertaking in partnership with UN Women and the Global Compact – the development of a RoadMap for the implementation of the Women’s Empowerment Principles in the Technology Sector.
The Women’s Empowerment Principles offer concrete steps that businesses can take to attract, retain and promote women and to empower women through value chains and community engagement.
Nearly 600 companies around the world have now signed on to these principles – and please allow me to congratulate you on your success, and let me encourage you to tap into ITU’s 700 Sector members from right across the ICT industry.
The WEPs Tech Sector RoadMap campaign will encourage companies in the ICT sector to sign on, and will provide detailed guidance on the particular challenges and good practices in advancing women’s full empowerment.
Finally, of course, there is technology itself, which has already done so much to help us accelerate progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals and which will play an absolutely crucial part in the post-2015 development agenda.
The only thing that continues to surprise me is that information and communication technologies – which are so singularly important – are still not receiving the attention and focus they deserve.
We all need to work much harder to make sure that youth, women and ICTs are all included in the development framework – because without these three key pillars we simply don’t have a sustainable future.