22 February 2016

Technology Underpins Sustainable Development Success, Secretary-General Says in Message to Mobile World Summit, Urging Industry to ‘Close Digital Divide’

Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message, delivered by David Nabarro, Special Adviser on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to the Mobile World Summit, in Barcelona today:

I am pleased to send greetings to the Mobile World Summit meeting under the theme “Connecting Everyone and Everything to a Better Future”.  At the turn of this century, the global community united behind the Millennium Development Goals.  This set of common objectives aimed to reduce extreme poverty, hunger and child mortality, improve maternal health, combat diseases like tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and ensure environmental sustainability.

Last September, United Nations Member States adopted an even more ambitious agenda.  The Sustainable Development Goals represent a qualitatively different view of what human society can become.  They provide a set of integrated and indivisible priorities for people, planet, prosperity, partnership and peace.

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals will demand new technologies and innovations in data collection that can integrate and complement traditional statistics.  The driving force behind this data revolution is mobile technology.  Mobile phone technology has already transformed societies around the globe, even in the poorest countries and communities.  It is helping to empower women, create jobs, spur financial independence, improve education, boost agricultural production and promote better health.  Mobile phones have enabled communities to monitor elections, hold Governments accountable and save lives in natural disasters.

Now, this revolutionary new technology is poised to underpin sustainable development further through the collection and analysis of big data.  Over the past five years, the United Nations Global Pulse initiative has demonstrated how the data produced by mobile phones can be used to map and curb the spread of hunger and disease, inform crisis response and understand the impacts of climate change.

As we embark on implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, I count on your industry to work with Governments and the international community to expand connectivity, lower barriers to access and ensure that tools and applications are developed with vulnerable communities in mind.  I urge everyone to work together to close the digital and gender divide and to collaborate to enable the responsible use of data for humanitarian and development purposes, while protecting individual privacy.

I thank you for your support, and encourage the mobile industry to continue to assist the United Nations as we work to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and build a future of dignity and opportunity where no one is left behind.  I wish you a successful and productive meeting.

For information media. Not an official record.