Committed to connecting the world

ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

Speech by ITU Secretary-General, Dr Hamadoun I. Touré 

ITU WSIS Forum 2013

COP Partners Meeting

 Opening Remarks
15 May 2013, Geneva, Switzerland

Distinguished colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be with you here this morning – and let me start by expressing my sincerest gratitude to Deborah Tate, our COP Special Envoy, and to Sylvia Poll, from the Permanent Mission of Costa Rica to the United Nations, for accepting the invitation to co-chair this important meeting.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Everyone recognizes the importance of ICTs in the 21st century. ICTs are part of everything we do in the modern world, and will continue to play an ever-increasing role in social and economic development as we move forward.

Already there are more than 6.4 billion active mobile cellular subscriptions, and more than 2.5 billion people are online. We are also rapidly seeing devices ever more interconnected with one another, and it is predicted that there will be 50 billion connected devices by 2020.

We would not be here together in this room today, however, if we did not also clearly recognize that hyperconnectivity has brought with it risks and disadvantages, too.

We are all aware of the growing issues of cybersecurity and cybercrime, which already take a huge toll on the global economy – as well as on the innocent, the vulnerable, and young people and children.

In both developed and developing nations a child’s only connection may be a mobile device which can in many cases link them directly to the Internet, bringing them into contact with the outside world, and also of course criminal, rogue and deviant behaviour.

Child Online Protection is not an ICT sector issue: this is an issue for every family, and every child in the world that is part of the online community – and it requires a comprehensive, holistic approach.

The creation of a safer Internet environment for our children is unquestionably a must for each and every one of us.

We need to work with government representatives, educators, healthcare providers, civil society, social media, mobile operators, the private sector, and every other player on the stage, in order to achieve our goal.

Children need to know what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’ in the online world – just as they need to know what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’ in the real word.

They need to become good global citizens, and they need to ensure that their digital footprints and personal data are safe – and this is true especially in a world where technology allows them to access incredible opportunities of education, healthcare and jobs.

Today’s youth will be the consumer drivers of new technologies tomorrow, so they need to become good global digital citizens wherever, whenever and however they connect – and we need to do everything in our power to ensure that this happens.

Distinguished colleagues,

The Child Online Protection initiative has achieved a lot in a very short amount of time.

Thanks to the COP partners, we have already made great progress in promoting the need to establish a collaborative and harmonized COP framework at the international level.

We are also continuing to assist countries in developing strategies and enhancing capabilities and infrastructure, with the aim of ensuring a safer online environment for children.

As global threats continue to grow, and children and young people continue to face new challenges, I am convinced that together we will be able to strengthen the capacity of COP in developing new initiatives, enlarging expertise, and enhancing child online safety.

I look forward to continuing to work together in building a constructive dialogue and I look forward to receiving your assistance in implementing projects and activities as we move forward.

I am confident that COP partners will play a key role in enhancing the collaboration between ITU and various stakeholders internationally to further assist countries in developing a national framework on Child Online Protection.

Our work here is valuable and important, and I am grateful for your ongoing commitment to this important goal – the goal of making the online world safe for children, and safe for the future.

Thank you.