|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Secretary-General Describes ‘Global Pulse’ Initiative as Quick Way to Check
Needs of Vulnerable Groups, Enabling Faster, Better Response
This is the text of remarks by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at a General Assembly briefing on the “Global Pulse” initiative, in New York, 8 November:
Thank you for joining me for a discussion on the Global Pulse initiative. I hope that by the end of this briefing, you will have a better sense of how remarkable innovations of the twenty-first century can be harnessed to our age-old quest to achieve prosperity and dignity for all.
In 2009, at the height of the global economic crisis, it was clear that we were seeing something new: the impacts of the crisis were flowing across borders at unprecedented velocity.
In today’s volatile and interconnected world, when crises emerge in one part of the world, they have the potential to reverberate quickly around the globe and inflict immediate suffering on the poorest and most vulnerable populations. It is as if socio-economic crises can now move almost with the speed of natural disasters.
Yet at a time when our need for policy agility has never been greater, our traditional twentieth-century tools for tracking international development simply cannot keep up. Too often, by the time we have hard evidence of what is happening at the household level, the harm has already been done. Our inability to understand the impacts of a crisis while there is still time to adjust our policies and programmes threatens to reverse years of hard-won development gains.
The irony is that we are actually swimming in an ocean of real-time information. The explosion in access to mobile phones and digital services means that people everywhere are contributing vast amounts of information to the global knowledge warehouse. Moreover, they are doing so for free, just by communicating, buying and selling goods and going about their daily lives.
The private sector is analysing this new data to understand its customers in real-time. The United Nations must do the same for its constituents: people around the world who are losing jobs, getting sick and having difficulty feeding themselves and their families. Much of this data contains signals that are relevant to development. We must use it to tell us what is happening, while it is happening.
Today you will hear about the exciting work that the Global Pulse team has been doing in analysing new data and building new technologies. You will learn about the team’s road map for the year ahead, as they begin implementing Global Pulse at the country level in Uganda and Indonesia.
The idea behind this initiative is simple: once we know what signals to listen for, we will be able to “take the pulse” of vulnerable communities. This rapid feedback will help us understand where people and communities are in trouble, how they are coping with global shocks, and how to respond while there is still time to prevent harm.
The time has come for us to bring the work of the United Nations fully into the digital age. Global Pulse is a chance for us to innovate and demonstrate leadership. With your strong support, we will pioneer a twenty-first-century approach that will help us keep up with fast-moving crises and keep international development on track.
Thank you for your participation and your commitment and support.
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