Welcome remarks by Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs to the Conference on the Positive Impact of ICT on the Environment and Climate Change
New York, 27 November 2007

Welcome to this Conference on the Positive Impact of Information and Communication Technologies on the Environment and Climate Change.

I would like to express my appreciation to AIT-Global for its long-standing collaboration with the United Nations and for co-organizing this meeting with the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and its Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID).

Today, with AIT-Global, GAID – as a platform for engaging all stakeholders to promote partnerships in ICT for development – brings us together to discuss how ICTs can be used to protect the environment and address the impact of climate change.

The Secretary-General sees overcoming the threat of climate change as the defining challenge of our times. The latest report of the UN’s Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change makes the need for urgent action clearer than ever. We must recognize that such action is also possible and affordable.

Progress and development have ushered in new technologies to help protect the environment and fight environmental degradation, including ICTs.

ICTs are crucial to understanding the environment and the impact of climate change. ICTs can also provide tools to help cut greenhouse gas emissions, by, for example, making electricity load and energy management more efficient or modernizing mass transit. They can also be instrumental in providing information on climate change and disaster management.

Looking at the broader sustainable development agenda, ICTs are useful in the management and monitoring of soil through remote sensing. They can help to manage water demand in agriculture through drip and advanced irrigation technologies. They can also be used in the monitoring and assessment of air pollution, in forest fire management and in various meteorological applications.

There remains vast potential for developing ICT applications in support of sustainable development. I hope that this Conference will dig deeply into a number of key questions on this front. Let me mention a few:

  • What ICTs are immediately available for broad deployment in developing countries?
  • What are the impediments to their wide-scale deployment?
  • How can issues such as accessibility and affordability be addressed?

With an effective global partnership among all the stakeholders, I truly believe that we can tackle climate change and achieve sustainable development for all.

I look forward to a fruitful discussion and wish you all the best.

Thank you.