Mr. Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General for the International Conference on Small Island Developing States

Seoul Conference on Cyberspace 2013

It is easier to be brief as the last speaker.

We have a diversity of participants here, including many developing country representatives and civil society groups.  When discussing cyberspace issues with government delegations, it is important to engage a wide range of stakeholders from the private sector, the Internet community and civil society. This is also true for the 8th Internet Governance Forum that will take place next week in Bali, Indonesia.

The theme of this conference, Global Prosperity through an Open and Secure Cyberspace — Opportunities, Threats and Cooperation, is very timely. Though cyberspace introduces new threats that we must address together as a global community, my vision of its potential for sustainable development, is optimistic.

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are already making a major impact on development efforts and the progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. The global community is working towards a global development agenda for the post-2015 period, with sustainable development at its centre. ICTs will no doubt play a central enabling role in achieving this sustainable path.

Digital connectivity is one of the most potent drivers of social, economic, and environmental change. By 2020, the Internet will connect an estimated five billion people. Such rapidly-increasing connectivity is empowering people worldwide. It contributes to accelerated economic growth, particularly in developing countries and emerging economies.

Achieving prosperity in cyberspace, of course, can mean different things to different individuals.

For a rural farmer, this may mean gaining access – through the use of a mobile phone – on the prospects for a crop yield.

For a teacher, this could mean connecting her students to unprecedented academic resources online. 

For a community health worker, this could mean communicating instantly with other doctors around the world to diagnose a spreading disease in his village.

For developing countries, this could mean bringing e-government services to their citizens, for the first time.           

Many governments, including the Republic of Korea, are adapting the way they do business by using the latest innovations in digital connectivity. For example, nearly one in four Member States are proactively sharing open government data through their national portals. This is a result of an increasing awareness that greater transparency and participation will lead to more effective, efficient and equitable management of scarce public resources.

The Report of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the post-2015 development agenda, called for a “data revolution”. Part of our vision for cyberspace is to have more Member States sharing and benefiting from open data.

Our vision also includes a cyberspace community that is free of criminal activity and malicious attacks. A community where fundamental safeguards are in place to protect each individual’s rights.

An open and secure cyberspace requires international cooperation and collaboration. Issues such as cyber-attacks, breaches of privacy, and unauthorized access to, and use of, data, have become all too common. They need to be addressed decisively and collaboratively.

A good example is the UN Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM), which brings together geospatial experts from around the world to advance the development and use of geospatial data, information and tools to support global sustainability.  

ICTs can help to empower the most vulnerable populations, including those living in remote areas and Small Island Developing States. The Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States will be held next year and will focus the world’s attention on a group of countries with unique and particular vulnerabilities. We can bring unique insights on how to assist these countries to prosper through the use of cyberspace and ICTs to overcome  hurdles.

As many of you know, each year the Secretary-General of the United Nations convenes the Internet Governance Forum. This is an egalitarian multi-stakeholder platform for deliberating public policy issues on internet governance and the potential of the Internet.  I am honoured that the Secretary-General has delegated this task to the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. 

This year, the meeting is being held in Bali, Indonesia, from 22 to 25 October. The theme is “Building Bridges: Enhancing Multi-stakeholder Cooperation for Growth and Sustainable Development.” We hope to see many of you there. If you cannot physically be present in Bali, I encourage you to participate remotely.

I am certain that IGF will benefit from your insightful deliberations.

Let us take the opportunity over the next two days to exchange knowledge and experience, strengthen partnerships and build momentum to leverage the benefits of cyberspace for sustainable development.

I wish you all very fruitful discussions.

Thank you.