Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me offer you a very special welcome this afternoon, and say what a tremendous honour it is for us to host the Lycée International of Ferney-Voltaire’s 2013 Model UN Conference here at ITU headquarters in Geneva.
I am both pleased and impressed to be surrounded by so many bright and inspirational young people. I know some of you have travelled here from England, from Germany, and from different parts of France, and we hope that you will enjoy your experience and feel that your trip was worthwhile. I look forward to following your debates and discussions here over the next two and a half days.
As Secretary-General of ITU, the United Nations specialized agency responsible for ICTs, the theme of this year’s FerMUN conference – ‘ICTs as the way forward in development, peace, and prosperity’ – is of course one that is very close to my own heart.
Our mission at ITU is to connect the world – to bring affordable, equitable access to ICTs, and in particular broadband, to all the world’s people, wherever they live and whatever their circumstances.
Incredible progress has already been made – with over six billion mobile cellular subscriptions worldwide, and more than 90% of the world’s population now covered by mobile phone networks.
However, as you pursue your discussions over the coming days, please remember that two thirds of the world’s people are still offline.
Two thirds of the world’s people have no Internet access – and are therefore unable to benefit from the extraordinary wealth of knowledge, experience, and social and business advantages of the online world.
Your busy agenda here covers topics as diverse as cybersecurity, education for all, biodiversity, equal opportunities, Internet as a human right, social media and emergency communications – and I am delighted to see such a broad range of subject matter up for discussion.
These are critical issues for our times, and I firmly believe that ICTs can do much to help in addressing each and every issue facing humankind today.
FerMUN conference delegates,
As young men and women, you hold the keys to the future in your hands.
In a hyper-connected world, that future includes ICTs in every aspect of modern life – from schools and hospitals and government offices, to homes and businesses and public spaces.
Yours is the most connected generation that has ever lived. That connectedness offers fantastic opportunities for engagement and empowerment, as information is accessed, used, created and shared to build the knowledge society.
It has been incredible to watch over the past few years as the voices of young people gain prominence and recognition worldwide – most noticeably through your ability to mobilize and lobby online, but also through the acts and actions of individuals and small groups all over the world.
Young people will continue to benefit from the fully-networked society in ways that we cannot even imagine today – and I am personally looking forward to seeing where the extraordinary marriage of technological advance and human brainpower will lead us.
I look forward to a bright future, enabled by ICTs.
And I look forward to coming back on Friday to hear the outcome of your discussions here during FerMUN ’13. You are an inspiration to us all…