|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Digital Divide ‘Far from Disappeared’, Secretary-General Says in Message
to International Telecommunication Union’s Plenipotentiary Conference
Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message to the Plenipotentiary Conference of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in Guadalajara, Mexico, today, 4 October:
It is a pleasure to convey my greetings to all the participants in this Conference.
For 145 years, the International Telecommunication Union has played a central role in the development of the global communications system — and for the past 60 years, ITU has been an invaluable member of the United Nations family. From the birth of telegraph to radio, television, satellite communication and the Internet, ITU has been at the forefront of “connecting the world”.
Today there are 5 billion mobile cellular subscriptions worldwide, and almost 2 billion people online. The work of ITU, its member States and its sector members continues to show how powerful a partnership for development can be when it is based on transparency, openness and cooperation. But despite important headway in expanding the benefits of information and communications technology, there is much work ahead. As was emphasized at last month’s Millennium Development Goals Summit in New York, while the digital divide has narrowed, it has far from disappeared.
One focus as we move ahead must be to harness the power of broadband. Experience has shown that greater access to broadband technologies has meant faster progress towards all the Millennium Development Goals. The Internet drives trade, commerce and even education. Telemedicine is improving health care. Earth-monitoring satellites are being used to address climate change issues. And green technologies are promoting cleaner cities.
Last month the Broadband Commission for Digital Development — a distinguished group of Government officials, businesspeople and content developers, brought together under the leadership of ITU and UNESCO — offered a blueprint, and I look forward to working with all partners in bringing it to life.
Your work in developing the next generation of communications networks, ensuring cybersecurity and putting the power of information and communications technology networks to good use in disaster relief and mitigation is vitally important to us all. With the opening of the first ITU Liaison Office to the United Nations, our cooperation has grown even closer. I look forward to strengthening our partnership, and I wish you the very best in your efforts to realize the great potential of information and communications technology to generate social and economic progress for all.
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