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ITU to boost communication capacity and emergency communication
solutions for small island developing states

Leaders at UN Conference on Small Island Developing States:
“ICTs open new opportunities”

Geneva, 16 September 2014 – Twenty-eight Heads of State and Government and 4000 participants, including policymakers, business leaders and representatives from civil society gathered in Apia, Samoa, to pledge their support for and establish new partnerships with small island developing states (SIDS), a group of nations that faces unique circumstances and challenges due to their remote location surrounded by large expanses of ocean.

“ICTs are the key to address some of the challenges faced by small island developing states on the road to sustainable development,” said Mr Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, speaking on behalf of ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun I. Touré. “There is no doubt that connectivity in SIDS has been recognized by the international community as being of high importance for supporting the ongoing efforts by SIDS to fully integrate into the global economy. ICTs can also help us address the challenges posed by climate change and disaster risk reduction.”

The UN Conference on Small Island Developing States – the largest international meeting ever held in the Pacific – was held 1–4 September and focused the world’s attention on issues faced by small island nations, such as climate change, environmental degradation and access to energy.

During the conference, participants took part in a series of partnership dialogues, where governments, the private sector and non-government organizations had the opportunity to establish new joint initiatives on six priority areas: sustainable economic development; climate change and disaster risk management; sustainable energy; water and sanitation, food security and waste management; oceans, seas and biodiversity; and social development, which includes health and non-communicable diseases as well as youth and women. More than 120 side events took place throughout the conference.

At the ITU event held on 2 September, ITU, ITSO Intelsat, Inmarsat, Kacific and leaders of eleven small island developing states signed an agreement on the Development of Satellite Communications Capacity and Emergency Communications Solutions for the Pacific. The aim of the project, which will be implemented from 2014 to 2017, is to improve connectivity in the remote areas of the signatory countries.

“Without broadband, it is clear that we will never meet our development goals on time,” said Mr Sanou, introducing the agreement. “Broadband is a key element for progress in all countries and has already become a critical national infrastructure, like transport and other public utility networks.”

Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi said that broadband is a catalyst for advancing sustainable development. He added, “Satellites play a crucial part in providing broadband access to vulnerable areas so that the regional vision of ICTs for all can become an achievable target.”

Opening the high-level dialogue at the Conference, Ms Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator and Chair of the United Nations Development Group, spoke about the existing digital divide, noting that the digital gap “will start to marginalize, disempower and set-back people even further.” She added, “For SIDS, ICTs and broadband open up opportunities we never saw before.”

The outcome document of the Conference, ‘Small Island Developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action’ – or SAMOA Pathway – was unanimously endorsed by the UN Conference on Small Island Developing States with an agreement to strengthen international support for SIDS.

For more information, please contact:

Sanjay Acharya
Chief, Media Relations and Public Information
ITU
tel +41 22 730 5046
tel +41 79 249 4861
tel sanjay.acharya@itu.int
Monica Albertini
Communication and Promotion Officer
ITU
tel +41 22 730 5317
tel +41 79 808 6065
tel monica.albertini@itu.int

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