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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Geneva (Switzerland)

05 October 2009


Remarks to ITU Telecom World 2009: ICTs are Vital to Confronting Threat of Climate Change

It is a great honour and pleasure for me to address this very important meeting, ITU Telecom World 2009. Here in this room, I see a great coalition. Top government officials and international agencies. Agency executives and others who understand the value of information and communications technology.

We all know that ICTs have revolutionized our world. My main interest is how these technologies are creating new possibilities for the United Nations to achieve its goals of peace, human rights and development.

ICTs are also very vital to confronting the problems we face as a planet: the threat of climate change. Last month I brought together more than 100 Heads of State and Government for a summit meeting in New York on climate change. I am pushing all countries to seal a deal when negotiators gather for the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December. Business leaders understand that a comprehensive, fair and effective deal will power growth, helping both the environment and the economy. I hope you will all add your voices to these efforts.

Indeed, ICTs are part of the solution. Already, these technologies are being used to cut emissions and help countries adapt to the effects of climate change. Here is an example. For decades, the United Nations has provided seeds and fertilizers to farmers in Africa. Such inputs remain essential. But now we are adding a new kind of tool: text messages. Earlier this year, we teamed up with mobile phone companies and other partners to install 5,000 new weather stations across Africa. The weather stations will monitor the impact of climate change. When there is news, we will be able to transmit it immediately to farmers' mobile phones. We hope to reach as many African farmers as possible -- because seven out of ten Africans rely on farming to survive.

Across the world, we are using information technologies to raise awareness about climate change. The UN Environment Programme recently organized a conference of youth in Korea. We all know that young people are the best social networkers. So we mobilized them to use Internet tools like Facebook and Twitter in support of our campaign to seal a deal on climate change. The UN Environment Programme also created a 'Twitter for Trees' project. Thanks to that effort, a tree was planted for each of the more than 10,000 people who signed up.

I am sure you in this room can think of even more creative ways to use ICTs to usher in a new green economy. I hope you share your ideas and make them a reality. Let us work together to find new ways to cut waste, reduce emissions, create jobs, protect against disasters and promote better standards of living.

Thanks in part to information technologies, we have seen some progress in our work for the Millennium Development Goals, our blueprint for improving the lives of millions of people by the year 2015. But hunger still stalks more than a billion people. We have a moral obligation to help them. A child who is malnourished today is far less likely to grow into a productive adult tomorrow. The food crisis is putting a whole generation at risk.

We are also lagging in our efforts to provide life-saving reproductive health services. It is an outrage that approximately one woman dies each minute from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth. ICTs can help to address these problems. By sharing information and technology and raising awareness. By generating funds and much more.

From high-speed networks to low-carbon power sources, developing countries need the technologies that are taken for granted in the developed world. Just as important, developing countries should strive themselves to be pioneers and innovators. To suggest just one opportunity, Governments and industries that embrace a strategy of green growth will be environmental champions and economic leaders in the twenty-first century.

All of you at this Telecom World 2009 are poised to make a tremendous difference. Individually, you can have an impact in your areas of influence. Collectively, you can change our world and I count on your commitment and your leadership. Thank you.