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Laureate 2011
Statement by President of Finland Tarja Halonen


Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union, Mr. Touré, Dear participants of the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day,
Ladies and Gentlemen, dear friends,

Firstly, allow me to express my deepest regrets that I cannot be with you in Geneva today. I am pleased that Mrs Suvi Lindén, Minister of Communications, represents Finland at the ceremonies. The reason I myself had to stay in Finland is that the United Nations High-level Panel on Global Sustainability is currently having its two-day meeting here in Helsinki. I am the co-Chair of the Panel and hosting our third meeting in my home country.

Via this video message, I would like to warmly thank the ITU and Secretary-General Touré for choosing me as one of the laureates of this year’s World Telecommunication and Information Society Award. Also, I want to congratulate Mr Sam Pitroda and Ms Kristin Peterson. I am happy to share this recognition with you.

I am personally very honoured to receive the Award. But I consider that the Award is a strong recognition to Finland for the efforts to promote the use of and equal access to ICTs both nationally and internationally.

Finland is a remote and sparsely populated country in northern Europe. The country is relatively large, with great distances, and we do not have many natural resources. Thus, we have had to build our success on human resources. Education is a crucial factor in our approach. Education in Finland is free of charge and available for everyone – for every boy and girl regardless of their background. We also encourage people to keep alive the joy of learning throughout their lives.

From this starting point, it has been natural – and necessary – for us to rely on technical solutions. As an open economy, Finland is heavily dependent on our contacts with the rest of the world.

Finland has worked hard to develop an equitable and inclusive information society. We were the first country in the world to ensure – by legislation – that all our citizens have the opportunity to use digital services – irrespective of their place of residence, whether in the city or the countryside, or the level of their income.

Already now, a good and reasonably priced internet connection is everyone’s right in Finland.

And by the end of 2015, high-speed, one hundred megabit broadband connections will be available to nearly all homes, businesses and public administration bodies.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Communications technology can provide effective tools for the empowerment of people and development of democracy, the respect for human rights and the rule of law. ICTs can help raise the standard of living in all places of the world.

The work of the ITU and the themes of the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day coincide well with the aims of the Global Sustainability Panel and our meeting here in 2 Helsinki. Clean technologies and equal access to ICTs can effectively promote socially, economically and ecologically sustainable development.

In Geneva, in 2003, we have all committed to build a people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented information society. And we have recognized that, in order to attain the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, access to ICTs is of key importance – especially in areas such as health care, the prevention of illnesses and – of course education.

These are among the core areas of the Millennium Development Goals, and also vitally important to the promotion of the role of women.

So, let's be innovative and work together to ensure that we keep our promises.

Once again, I thank the ITU for the Award and for the great recognition to Finland. I wish you all a very good World Telecommunication and Information Society Day.

 

 


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Updated : 2011-05-17