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Presidents of Burkina Faso and Rwanda address new trends in ICT

ITU high-level meeting aims to strengthen cybersecurity and mitigate climate change

Geneva, 12 November 2008 — The ITU high-level meeting on emerging trends in the ICT sector, including climate change and cybersecurity, brought together the Presidents of Burkina Faso and Rwanda along with Ministers, regulators and heads of UN agencies.

In his message to the gathering, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed ITU’s commitment to ‘connecting the world’. Commending ITU’s work in striving to make the ICT sector climate neutral, Mr Ban said, "Climate change is the defining challenge of our era. Your work to cut greenhouse gas emissions, develop standards and use ‘e-environment’ systems can speed up the global shift to a low-carbon economy."

"Climate change is a grave concern for all humanity," stressed ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré. "Redressing the damage already done and mitigating future impact will require concerted efforts on the part of everyone, including the information and communication technology sector." He said ITU can play an active and valuable role in helping reduce carbon emissions — for example, through the development of technical standards that lower the power requirements of ICT equipment and services, and through helping pioneer new technologies that help reduce the carbon footprint of other industries, such as the automotive sector.

ICTs: Catalysts of change

"ITU is ready to change the world!" said H.E. Mr Blaise Compaoré, President of Burkina Faso, and added that information and communication technologies open enormous possibilities to mitigate the effects of climate change and reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by using energy efficient means such as advanced web conferencing and telecommuting. "The rational use of ICTs in the service of economic, social and environmental development requires the transfer of technologies and the adoption of policies and programmes aimed at helping developing countries, in particular those in Africa, at reducing the digital divide," President Compaoré said.

"We have Heads of State here who dare to dream — and dream big," said Dr Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of ITU, addressing a Press conference along with the Presidents of Burkina Faso and Rwanda.

Speaking of the catalytic role of ICTs in achieving the development goals, H.E. Mr Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda said, "There can be no doubt in the vital role of ICTs in development. This is why we were very pleased to co-host with ITU the ground-breaking Connect Africa Summit in October 2007." He said "ICT constitutes business in itself" and felt confident that "we will achieve the MDGs in time".

Focusing on cybersecurity, President Kagame said, "Just as the borderless cyberspace makes the Internet a powerful vehicle for spreading and deepening knowledge and innovations, it also exposes global users to cybercrimes." Stressing the need to strengthen cybersecurity and online child protection, President Kagame said, "We must draw on the success and experience of existing models to build global awareness and develop practical tools for governments, educators, and parents to minimize risks to young people. The youth are natural and enthusiastic adopters of technology, and many routinely surf the Web and participate in online chat-rooms, network, and view all types of information and data — some of which are harmful. For this reason, protection of children and young people must be one of the central pillars of any efforts to ensure a safe online environment."

Protecting children online

ITU announced today that it will launch its Child Online Protection (COP) initiative during the high-level meetings taking place 12−13 November focusing on cybersecurity and ICTs and climate change.

Making sure the online world remains a safe place to work and play, ITU Secretary-General Touré noted that the Global Cybersecurity Agenda, launched in 2007, has been eliciting enthusiastic support from both the private sector and from forward-looking governments around the world. "We continue to develop the Global Cybersecurity Agenda through new initiatives such as the Child Online Protection programme," said Dr Touré. "At ITU, we believe not just in connecting the world, but in connecting the world responsibly." He added: "The Internet can be a great facilitator, but in the wrong hands it can also turn into a malevolent influence. Ensuring the online world is a safe and secure place to visit will be essential to promoting worldwide adoption of this powerful resource."

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed ITU’s ‘Child Online Protection’ initiative and urged all States to support it. He said, "With more and more transactions being done online, predators, criminals and terrorists can take advantage. We have to protect against cyberthreats, especially when they target children."

Statements made at the ITU High-Level meeting on Cybersecurity and Climate Change are available at

For more information, please contact:

Sanjay Acharya
Chief, Media Relations and Public Information

Tel: +41 22 730 5046
Mobile: +41 79 249 4861



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Updated : 2008-11-14