Committed to connecting the world

ITU 150

UN High Level Event

Speech by ITU Secretary-General, Dr Hamadoun I. Touré

The Contributions of North-South, south-south, Triangular Cooperation, and ICT for Development to the Implementation of the Post-2015 Development Agenda

Panel Discussion 2

 

22 May 2014, United Nations, New York

Excellencies,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,

In the 21st century, ICTs are everywhere, all around us – and they affect almost everything we do, or even aspire to do.

This is not mere rhetoric – this is a fact.

ICTs are an essential feature of modern life – whether you want to deliver clean water to your people, or power supplies to a city, or education to kids, or universal healthcare across the population.

They are essential to getting a job, and to keeping a job.

They are essential to providing good governance, and good government, and good public services.

They are essential in reducing poverty, achieving gender equality and ensuring the inclusion in our society of minority and marginalised groups.

They are essential in preserving our environment and in preserving our rich cultural diversity.

And they are essential in driving entrepreneurship, innovation and economic growth.

We all recognize this.

Indeed, as Ban Ki-moon said just last week (on the occasion of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day):

Ladies and gentlemen,

In the past ten years we have brought virtually all of humanity within reach of mobile cellular communications, and we have come close to fulfilling our dream of connecting the world.

According to the latest forecasts from ITU, released just two weeks ago, there will be almost as many mobile cellular subscriptions worldwide as there are people by the end of this year, and there will be close to three billion people online.

This is truly fantastic – but we still have far to go.

Because even by the end of 2014, more than half the world's people – and two thirds of people in the developing world – will still be offline.

And they will still be without access to the most important tool we have ever seen in terms of improving global development, in terms of health, education, poverty reduction and so much more.

We all recognize this.

It was recognized by the least developed countries, the LDCs – with the LDC IV [LDC Four] conference in Istanbul in 2011 calling for 100% access to the internet by 2020, and recognizing ICT networks as basic infrastructure equal to water, transportation and energy.

It was recognized by the Global Youth Summit, which was held in Costa Rica last September, under the theme of 'BYND 2015'.

The BYND 2015 declaration, which also calls for universal access to the internet, was taken by President Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica to the UN General Assembly last year.

It was recognized by the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, which was set up by ITU and UNESCO in 2010 to help accelerate progress towards meeting the MDGs, and to call for making broadband policy universal by 2015.

At our most recent meeting, in March, in Dublin, we saw Commissioner after Commissioner take the floor to stress the importance of ICTs, and especially broadband, in ensuring sustainable development as we move forward, and the need to have this formally recognized in the post-2015 development process.

It was recognized by World Telecommunication Development Conference, WTDC-14, which recently reaffirmed the global commitment to ICTs as an enabler of sustainable development.

It was recognized at the 11th Session of the Open Working Group, the OWG, which took place at the beginning of this month, where many participants pointed out how ICTs are key enablers across nearly all of the Focus Areas identified to date.

We all recognize this.

So why – with more than four billion people still offline – are ICTs not playing a more central and a more explicit role in the definition of the post-2015 development process?

Distinguished delegates,

The ICT revolution was not given the priority it deserved in the MDG era, and we cannot afford to make the same mistake this time around.

In the 21st century, and in shaping the post-2015 development agenda, we simply cannot ignore the vital role that ICTs play and will continue to play in improving the lives of every single person on the planet.

ICTs must therefore be given greater prominence in the UN's post-2015 development agenda, as catalysts of broad economic and social development, and as keystones in the process.

And yet we can see that this is not yet happening, and that ICTs have not yet gained the full attention they deserve.

Let me therefore make a clear, strong and passionate request to all delegates, and to all Member States participating in the Open Working Group, to bring this matter to the top of the agenda, as a cross-cutting enabler and as a goal or target as appropriate – and in so doing, help to make the world a better place for all.

Let's make sure that the existing target from LDC IV, and the call to make broadband universal, have a solid place in the post-2015 agenda.

This is not about language and terminology – this is about human progress in the 21st century.

We all recognize this!

 

Thank you for your attention – and let me close with two-minute video that we made for World Telecommunication and Information Society Day last week – and that really brings the message home.


Thank you.