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Home : Themes : Climate Change

20-22 June 2012
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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ICTs, the foundation of our sustainable future

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About Rio+20

Rio+20 is an alternative name given to the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD). Held to mark of the 20th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNECD or Earth Summit), Rio+20 will take place in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) on 20-22 June 2012.


A joint message from ITU Secretary-General and Professor Jeffrey Sachs
Dear RIO+20 Delegates  

As you gather to deliberate on the outcomes of the RIO+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, we ask that you consider the crucial importance of information and communication technology (ICT), and especially broadband networks and services, as a catalyst for sustainable development.

Broadband is empowering mobile technologies as the new cutting-edge of development practice.  Broadband networks for clinics, schools and health workers are creating a revolution in knowledge dissemination, distributed problem solving, disease control, quality education, and business development.  

Investments in ICT networks deliver long-term sustainable economic development. Recent research suggests that broadband penetration can significantly boost economic growth.  It also offers crucial opportunities to improve health, education, financial services, and the overall quality of life, especially by ending the isolation that often afflicts rural communities.      

ICT networks, powered by broadband, can also deliver more sustainable social development. Not only can individuals access information and share knowledge in real time; they can also create social networks that protect their rights, foster local cultures, and empower the powerless.  

In addition, investments in ICT networks help to deliver more sustainable environmental development.  Creating a low-carbon economy means transitioning from the energy-intensive physical infrastructure of the 20th century to the more energy-efficient information infrastructure and smart grids that are essential in the 21st century.   

ICT networks and broadband technology are certainly among the most important 21st century tools for sustainable development, offering particular hope and opportunities for the poorest of the poor. Fortunately, the least developed countries have already taken steps towards recognizing the great potential of ICT.  The Istanbul Plan of Action for the Least Developed Countries, signed last year, places ICT networks as core infrastructure alongside water, electricity and transportation.  Private business is also investing large sums to create networks in today’s poor countries, helping them to be the middle-income countries of the next generation.   

We therefore kindly ask as you deliberate on ‘The Future We Want’ that you promote ICT networks and broadband in the outcome document as a crucial catalytic step for global sustainable development, and especially for ending extreme poverty, hunger, and preventable deaths in our time. 


Professor Jeffrey Sachs
Director of The Earth Institute - Columbia University

Dr. Hamadoun Touré
ITU Secretary-General


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Updated : 2012-05-23