Committed to connecting the world

ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

Speech by Kassym-Jomart Tokayev

​FerMUN 2013: Opening Ceremony, 9 January 2013, Geneva, Switzerland
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, United Nations Under-Secretary-General,
Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva

Secretary-General Touré
Ambassador Fasel
Director Brech
General Assembly President
Distinguished Delegates:

Thank you for the invitation to be with you for the opening of the FerMUN.  It is a pleasure and a privilege to witness your enthusiasm for the United Nations. 

As Einstein once famously said, “we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”  As the next generation of leaders, you bring the new thinking, the innovation and the ideas that we need to solve the challenges before us.  By asking new questions and suggesting fresh approaches, you expand the inventory of possible solutions to the problems we face. 

The extensive programme before you already testifies to your readiness to confront the most complex challenges.  You have all come here because you are interested in and inspired by the United Nations.  But, I think that when you have finished your debates, it will be the rest of us who are inspired by the creativity and resourcefulness that you bring to the table. 

Your focus on the role of ICTs in shaping a better world could not be more timely.  2.3 billion people are now connected to the Internet, and across the world, there are more than 6 billion mobile phone subscriptions.  ICTs are clearly an agent of social change, as channels of communication and cooperation, and as platforms for dialogue and information-sharing. 

As it is also highlighted in your agenda, ICTs brings both immense opportunities and great vulnerabilities, across many dimensions.  As just one example, by some estimates, the value of cyber criminality globally amounts to 400 billion annually.  We must manage both opportunities and vulnerabilities responsibly, with respect for the openness that is at the heart of the Internet. 

The potential of ICTs for development is undisputed.  We witness dynamic growth in ICT use in developing countries.  One billion mobile phone subscriptions are in China, and India is expected to hit the one billion mark this year.  And according to the World Bank, 16% of people in the developing world use mobile phones to pay bills, as opposed to 3% in the rest of the world. 

Going forward, we need to put in place a strong framework for continued development after the 2015-deadline for the Millennium Development Goals.  And here, appropriate and comprehensive use of ICTs has to be at the top of the global development agenda.  Ensuring that the potential of ICTs benefits all groups and communities is a challenge.  Equality in access has to be a priority –regardless of gender, background and circumstance.

This is particularly important when it comes to the empowerment of women.  We need women as both users of ICTs and as contributors to technology and content.  I am pleased to take this opportunity to applaud the leadership of Secretary-General Touré and the ITU in highlighting the importance of gender equality in relation to ICTs. 

Dear Delegates:

I commend your focus on education.  There is no doubt that education has the power to transform people and societies.  In September of last year, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, launched the “Education First” initiative, which aims to ensure access to education for all, quality in education and the fostering of global citizenship.

Education is growth and empowerment.  I have no doubt that you will grow and be empowered by your experience here to become committed global citizens.  It is my hope that you will put your skills and knowledge, your curiosity and commitment, to the service of the global common good to help others do the same. 

I wish you all success in your future studies and careers.

Enjoy your Model United Nations!