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World leaders define vision for globally connected society

ITU, UNESCO host top names from industry, UN agencies and civil society at first meeting in Geneva;
Commissioners begin to define their vision for harnessing the transformational power of high-speed, always-on networks

Geneva, 12 July 2010 - Leading lights from industry, civil society, UN agencies and the creative sphere, who together comprise the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, have emphasized the critical role of broadband networks in future global development.

Commissioners met in private session in Geneva on 11 July to set about defining a vision for accelerating the deployment of broadband networks worldwide, with the aim of improving the delivery of services across a huge range of social and business sectors, and accelerating progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The Commission is co-chaired by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Mr Carlos Slim Helú, Honorary Lifetime Chairman of Grupo Carso, with ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré and UNESCO Director-General, Ms Irina Bokova, serving as joint vice chairs.

It will deliver its outcomes to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 19 September 2010 at an official side event of the UN MDG Summit in New York, which starts on September 20.

These outcomes will be presented in the form of two reports, the first of which will reflect expert input from the Commissioners, and the second of which will comprise in-depth analysis of the challenges and opportunities in deploying broadband across a range of different types of economies.

The first report will also include a series of top-level Recommendations designed to serve as a global blueprint for rapid broadband development worldwide, while the second report will take into account local needs, financing constraints and technical hurdles, and make practical proposals on possible routes towards deployment of ubiquitous high-speed networks at affordable prices in every country worldwide.

“The global deployment of broadband networks will be as powerful a transformational force for the 21st century as the progressive installation of electricity networks was in the first decades of the 20th century,” said Dr Touré. “Just as connection to the power grid is now seen as a basic element of social and economic empowerment, so ubiquitous connectivity to broadband networks will be vital to the ongoing development of every nation worldwide.”

“The latest information and communication technologies (ICTs) have created new opportunities for the creation, preservation, dissemination and use of information,” said the UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, who was represented at the meeting by Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information Mr Janis Karklins. “We aim to go further, towards the construction of inclusive knowledge societies in which people can transform information into knowledge and understanding that empowers them to improve their livelihoods and contribute to their social and economic development. Universal access to broadband-enabled applications will be vital for achieving this goal.”

Taking it to the streets – can broadband help the world’s poor?

How can a ‘high-end, high-cost’ technology like broadband help meet the needs of the world’s poorest nations? ITU has commissioned a series of articles on broadband and its social and economic impact. Read the first two, looking at Millennium Development Goal 1 of Reducing Poverty and Hunger, and MDG 2 of achieving Universal Primary Education at: www.broadbandcommission.org/media/stories.html.

Read the broadband vision statements of Richard Branson, Youssou N’Dour, Muhammad Yunus, Vint Cerf, Jeffrey Sachs and other Commissioners at www.itu.int/bbcommission/commissioners.html.

Photos from the July 11 meeting can be downloaded at: www.itu.int/net/pressoffice/photolibrary/display.aspx?event=82&ple=200&et=s.

A full list of Commissioners can be found at www.broadbandcommission.org/commissioners.hrml.


For more information, please contact:

Sarah Parkes
ITU Media Relations
tel +41 22 730 6135
email pressinfo@itu.int
Gary Fowlie
Head, New York Liaison Office, ITU
tel +1 917 367 2992
email gary.fowlie@itu.int
Sue Williams
Chief, Media Section
Bureau of Public Information
tel +33 1 45 68 17 06
email s.williams@unesco.org
Suzanne Bilello
Senior Communication Officer
UNESCO Office, New York
tel +1 212 963 43 86
email s.bilello@unesco.org


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