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United Nations Fund for International Partnerships


Amir A. Dossal, Executive Director, UNFIP Address to the plenary

World Summit on Information Society

Geneva, Switzerland, 12 December 2003




Distinguished representatives, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a great honour for me to address this important Summit. It is a very special privilege for me to speak about partnerships for global cooperation.


This Summit is a turning point not simply for the international community but especially for the people who don't have a voice at this event - the three billion plus who live below a dollar a day.


Partnerships for development are not new. But the world today is more complex and interconnected than it was even ten years ago. Globalization and the changing nature of international relations call for innovations and new partnership among governments, civil society, foundations and the private sector.


Finding solutions to complex problems -- like polio, HIV/AIDS, access to safe drinking water, environmentally sustainable growth, refugee crises, and of course the Digital Divide -- are too vast and too complex to be confronted by sovereign states or the United Nations alone. They require new and innovative approaches.


Private companies, foundations, non-governmental institutions, civil society and academia are increasingly involved in the many challenges facing the world today. There has been a rise in the number, diversity and influence of these partners in the past decade due to political transition, economic liberalization, and technological change. Such partners contribute experience, expertise, information, networks, technology, products. delivery systems and critical funding.


In the past, public-private partnerships too often meant --you give us your money and we'll spend it." Today, partnerships have taken on a whole new meaning. The public benefits not only from the financial resources but from infrastructure, expertise. and the management skills of the private sector. Businesses can align corporate socially responsible activities with global goals so as to work towards a more stable and inclusive world market, embracing what I would define as global corporate citizenship: advocacy, cooperation on the ground and strategic partnerships.


We feel that the best way to implement global policy initiatives is to develop and implement concrete on the ground initiatives. The impetus provided by this summit is leading to a number of innovative partnerships. The exhibitions abutting the plenary hall offer ample examples of success stories and the work of WISIS online is key to getting the message out. The challenge for all of us is to get this message to get this message to the recipients as well.


The role of the private sector is critical and we call upon them to be continue being innovative in finding solutions which maximise the benefits of Information Communication technologies.


Similarly, foundations as venture capitalist are key to sustainable success - they provide much needed social capital to help empower the under privileged. Increasingly, their leadership and investments are starting to reap rewards. They often seek an active role at the planning and implementation table, which we welcome and encourage.


More importantly, NGOs with extensive local knowledge are the real drivers of change and we encourage international NGOS to continue to develop operational partnerships to make a lasting difference.


I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the key role of South-south cooperation. Numerous innovations are coming from developing countries, which need to find their way to other countries, so that they may benefit with what works and what doesn't. More importantly, they are contributing to national efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals. These Millennium Development Goals have now been placed at the heart of the global agenda. But they won't be reached without redoubling our efforts to establish innovative and far reaching partnerships with the private sector.


In particular one Goal, MDG # 8 "Develop a Global Partnership for Development," is the key to achieving all the MDGs. In my view all the Goals should be encapsulated as Partnerships for the Millennium Development Goals. Working together, engaging with all actors of civil society is not only the best chance; it may also be the only chance we have to meet these global targets.


Let me give you some examples of partnerships which are coming together as a result of this historic event:



I would like to thank the organisers of WIS, specially the Government of Switzerland, and ITU for making this historic event a reality. The success of WSIS has now paved the road to Tunisia. We look forward to going from strength to strength.


Thank you.




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Updated : 2003-12-12