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ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

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

 BYND 2015 Global Youth Summit

 Opening Ceremony

 08 September 2013, San José , Costa Rica

Madame President,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a tremendous honour to be here with you in Costa Rica for the Opening Ceremony of the BYND 2015 Global Youth Summit.

We have been given an incredible welcome by Costa Rica, and let me say how much of a pleasure it is to be back here in this wonderful, beautiful country.

The BYND 2015 Global Youth Summit has been organized by ITU and the Presidency of Costa Rica to provide young people with a platform to express their own views on the role that information and communication technologies should play in the post-2015 development agenda.

This is only right and proper, as the post-2015 development agenda will matter very much more to this young generation than to earlier, older, generations – such as mine, for example!

The summit is being held here in Costa Rica at the personal invitation of President Laura Chinchilla, who is the ITU patron of the Child Online Protection initiative.

As a key advocate of the role of the youth in social development, President Chinchilla has been a major driver of this summit – and without her tireless enthusiasm and passion we simply wouldn’t be here together today.

Thank you, Madame President!

Ladies and gentlemen,

Distinguished youth delegates,

The preparatory process for this summit started at the end of last year and a great deal of work has gone into its success.

In a connected world, everyone has a voice; so it is now up to you – the youth delegates here – to take the process forward and to make your voices heard.

I am confident that you have come here to Costa Rica to challenge us and to challenge the world with your ideas, your innovations, your energy and your creativity.

It is a tremendous privilege for me to be here and to be part of your Summit, and I am looking forward immensely to capturing your ideas and to bringing them forward to the international global agenda – starting with the United Nations General Assembly in just over two weeks time.

If there is one thing in the world that has changed since the Millennium Summit in the year 2000, it is technology – and yet technology is still extraordinarily absent from the post-2015 process!

So let’s use the next three days to send a really strong message to world leaders about the power of technology to change the world and empower people!

I am looking forward to seeing you build on the incredible surge of enthusiasm which has been created over the past months through the crowdsourcing efforts all over the world, and from the numerous workshop hubs which are feeding into this process here in Costa Rica – from Bangladesh to Nigeria, from India to Mexico, and from Qatar to Zimbabwe.

Currently young people have organized 46 hubs or workshops in 31 different countries bringing together some 3000 participants and the number is growing by the day.

These hubs are incredibly important because they demonstrate how serious we are about digital inclusion. Many of the young people participating have no connection to the Internet or no computer at home. Their voices are now being heard and will contribute to the outcomes.

We wanted this summit to be a showcase of the power of technology to connect and empower people and to bring them together around a common cause; to collaborate and create solutions for their future. I believe the model of empowering young people to run their own events around the world has greatly facilitated this.

This physical summit in Costa Rica can be considered as the manifestation and culmination of everything that is already happening online and through the hubs around the world.

This model can be further developed for the future to ensure grass roots empowerment and mobilization; to facilitate the sharing of ideas online; and to open up participation to everyone whose voice needs to be heard.

Distinguished youth delegates,

ITU is proud of the work we do to advance the global youth agenda, and I am constantly impressed by the drive and enthusiasm of the young people I meet wherever I travel around the world.

Among the thousands of contributions and comments on the crowdsourcing platform, we are seeing common trends emerging which young people are telling us need to be prioritized.

Issues such as access to affordable ICTs are high on their agenda, as well emphasizing the importance of innovation to address youth unemployment, or the critical issue of citizen participation through the increased availability of digital tools.

I am also proud, on a personal level, to Chair the Working Group on Broadband and Youth which was set up by the Broadband Commission for Digital Development in 2011, and which was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the BYND 2015 Global Youth Summit.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Before I close, I would personally like to thank all of the partners who have made this summit possible – through financial contributions; the provision of content and resources; the organization of key activities during the summit; and by funding and mobilizing youth from within their networks.

This is a summit that is far greater than the sum of its parts, and let me therefore express our tremendous gratitude to each of our summit partners.

In total we have 40 partners, making this a truly unique multi-stakeholder partnership event, which reflects the importance attached to the summit.

In particular, the very high-level engagement of the private sector underlines the fundamental importance of public-private partnerships in our quest to make the world a better place – and we can all be proud to see such prestigious brand names among our trusted partners.

You have all helped to make this summit possible; thank you all!

Thank you.