Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Geneva (Switzerland), 05 October 2009
What a wonderful occasion for me to meet all of you, the leaders of our future generation, who are connecting the world with an open mind. I am delighted to join you for this ITU Youth Forum. I stand before you as the 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations. But, I bet you that I am the first Secretary-General who uses Twitter! I am sure that I will not be the last one. Whoever comes after me will be the generation of using all this blogging and Twitter and tweeting.
Now, every day, more of us are blogging and video blogging and tweeting our way through cyberspace. Information and communication technologies are keeping us informed, aware and connected.
But you know there is far more power and potential to ICTs. That is what this conference is about. That is why you are here. That is why I am here together with you. Just to talk and breathe at the same frequency with the young generations.
I understand that the Youth Forum Fellows are winners of an essay competition. You have shared your ideas on how ICT can help us protect children – promote better health – respond to disasters – fight diseases – and build a better world. I know that many speakers have already shared promising practices to spread the power of ICTs more widely.
I would like to tell you about one more. ITU has developed a flagship initiative called: “Connect a School, Connect a Community”. Thank you very much for your commitment. The United Nations is leading this initiative, this campaign to connect the schools, and connect the world and connect the community, and I commend highly the leadership of President Kagame of Rwanda for initiating the “Connect Africa” programme. The goal is to help countries connect all schools to broadband Internet services by the year 2015 - a target set at the World Summit on the Information Society. I am pleased to help launch the initiative on a global basis.
We know what a difference it can take. Connected schools can become connected community ICT centres. They can provide a vital link to marginalized and vulnerable groups. They can become an information lifeline for women, indigenous people, persons with disabilities and those living in rural, remote and underserved areas. Turning this goal into reality will take teamwork. We must strengthen our own networks. That is why the ITU will work closely with the United Nations agencies, including UNESCO and UNICEF, to support countries in connecting schools and reaching out to the under-served.
The success of this initiative also depends on political will. Political leaders, they should put their policy priorities in connecting the world, connecting communities and connecting schools. I urge world leaders to support this effort and take the needed steps to meet the agreed targets of connecting all schools by 2015. I invite all United Nations agencies, world leaders, national and local governments, the private sector and NGOs to do their part to foster economic and social development through the use of ICTs.
I also look forward to your continuing engagement as young leaders. You have much to teach all of us. Sometimes I was told that we can learn, the older groups, older generations can learn from their children. Thank you once again for sharing your creative ideas. Thank you for working to bring the wonders of modern technology to all. And thank you for connecting our world to a better world. Thank you very much.