Mr. Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General for the Third International Conference on Financing for Development

Introductory Remarks

Sixty-ninth session of the United Nations General Assembly
Second Committee Special Event

“ICT and E-Government in SIDS: Responding to the SAMOA Pathway Call for Action”

Chairpersons Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi and Ms. Tishka Francis,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

As the Secretary-General for the recently concluded Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), I am pleased to deliver introductory remarks at this Special Event on “ICT and E‑Government in SIDS: Responding to the SAMOA Pathway Call for Action”. As a concrete follow up to the Samoa Conference, this meeting addresses key issues of high policy relevance to SIDS countries.

SIDS remain a special case for sustainable development in view of their unique and particular vulnerabilities. In small, remote islands with relatively small populations the cost of providing goods, services and infrastructure—including telecommunications—is higher. In addition, SIDS are particularly vulnerable to economic crises and growing trade imbalances. They have limited resources and are often dependent on uncertain sectors such as tourism. SIDS are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, such as sea-level rise and natural disasters. All combined, these hamper the ability of SIDS to achieve sustainable development.

The SAMOA Pathway recognizes the importance of supporting SIDS in their ongoing efforts to ensure peaceful societies and safe communities, including through building responsive and accountable institutions. This is in line with the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro in 2012. At Rio, a global consensus was reached that to achieve sustainable development we need institutions at all levels that are effective, transparent, accountable and democratic.

E-government holds great potential to improve institutions so they can better address the many challenges faced by SIDS. SIDS can take advantage of mobile technology, Internet, social media and space-based technologies such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to improve access to public services, especially for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups. They can also use such technologies to enhance disaster risk reduction through improved data availability. E-government can improve government efficiency and help to connect remote areas, ultimately ensure more effective use of limited resources.

As outlined in the SAMOA Pathway Outcome Document, increasing connectivity and use of ICTs can support SIDS in their efforts to pursue sustainable development; through improving infrastructure, training, national legislation, as well as public and private sector involvement.

As highlighted in the 2014 United Nations e-Government Survey, the use of ICT in government can greatly facilitate citizens’ participation in public affairs through e-participation, particularly for those living in remote areas. ICT enabled tools have been proven to help alleviate poverty and improve people’s livelihoods.

My department, together with our colleagues in the United Nations System, is committed to supporting ICT and e-government development in SIDS in response to the SAMOA Pathway Call for Action.

I believe that today’s special event is an important opportunity to discuss e‑government development and capacity-building in SIDS to address the multiple challenges they face in pursuit of sustainable development.

I look forward to a fruitful and insightful panel discussion.

Thank you.