Committed to connecting the world

ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

Speech by Sylvia Poll

​FerMUN 2013: Opening Ceremony, 9 January 2013, Geneva, Switzerland

Sylvia Poll, Ambassador, Deputy Permanent Representative,
Permanent Mission of Costa Rica to the United Nations Office at Geneva 

Happy New Year and I wish you all a healthy and successful 2013. I am honored to be part of this special event, were you will be given the opportunity to expand your horizons, take part in valuable discussions and hopefully promote important causes.
We are living in very exciting times. Information and communication technologies are in every part of our lives. ICTs provide development, information, education and jobs. ICTs improve access to health care, enables us to exercise our human rights and gives us the opportunity to actively participation in government.
Connectivity is delivering major economic and development benefits everywhere and people, especially in developing countries are improving their living standards. Access to ICTs, especially through the sharing of networks and applications, are valuable instruments to promote business, entrepreneurship and employment. 
ICTs can be used to support basic human rights such as freedom of expression, through the debate and exchange of information and ideas. Young people as yourself have clearly shown us how the power of ICTs can change the world.
Women play a very important role in the reduction of  poverty and the promotion of social and economic development. ICTs are an essential tool for their development. When women and girls are given an education and are empowered, economies are stronger and more productive. When women are fully represented, countries tend to be more stable and peaceful.
The role of telecommunications in environmental protection and sustainable development has been shown to be essential. Less energy consumption, the reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases and the better response in the case of natural disasters, are just a few examples.
Mobile technology  is a great opportunity for the promotion of  health. Mobile health solutions have shown that they can help combat non communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular and chronic respiratory diseases, currently the leading causes of death and disease in the world. But the excessive use of technology, spending more and more hours with our laptops and mobile phones is also affecting our health. We are being less active, practicing less sport and becoming overweight people.
Technology is an essential and valuable tool. However, ICTs can be challenged by their negative use and children are especially vulnerable in an online environment. The President of Costa Rica, Mrs. Laura Chinchilla, is the Patron of the ITU Child  Online Protection Initiative.
Costa Rica is a democratic, peaceful and unarmed country, that thanks to its human rights traditions, has recognized that ICTs can play an important role in its social and sustainable development. For example, Costa Rica will host this year the first ITU Global Youth Summit, which aims to mobilize youth from around the world, to create through access to ICTs, solutions for social good.
But with rights and opportunities, also come responsibilities. You have access to the digital world, but this has to come with the fulfillment of your duties as global citizens. Democracy without responsibility undermines freedom.
Social corporate responsibility has become part of the essential values of many companies and organizations, were they base their decisions not only on the bottom line, but their social and environmental impact.
Each one of you is a fortunate human being.
So I leave you with the following questions.
What will your individual social responsibility be?
What will your human and environmental footprint be?
How will you use your education and knowledge to impact this world in a positive way?
How can each one of you use ICTs as the way forward in development, peace and prosperity?