Following is the text of UN Deputy Secretary‑General Amina Mohammed’s video message on the occasion of the opening of the GLOBSEC 2020 Bratislava Forum, held on 7‑8 October:
We are living in unprecedented times. In March 2020, the world was forced to find a new normal, literally, overnight. Technology enabled families, workplaces, schools, community centres and Governments to quickly adapt. Video technology continues to enable us to stay in touch with our loved ones despite lockdowns, social distancing and isolation. Technology is also making possible a world where we can continue to work and learn.
During the initial shutdown periods, remote sensing and satellite imagery gave us a bird’s‑eye view into how quickly everything changed, from traffic halting to air pollution clearing. And during the days when some economies were opening up, the same tools showed us images of cities with life on their streets again, social movements coming alive and families reuniting. These are the gifts of new technologies.
We must, however, continue to push these technologies and their market‑moving companies to do good. I often ask, what will accelerating technological change mean for our children and our grandchildren? Will they live in a world that technology has made more equitable, joyful, just and environmentally healthy? Or will they live in a world where technology enabled the loss of privacy, the widening of inequality, increased autocratic control, environmental degradation and perpetual conflict? Will technology companies be the leaders in solving climate change, or will they dig us into a deeper climate emergency?
These are critical questions of our time. There are reasons to be hopeful. Satellite imagery companies are monitoring and halting deforestation in real time. Big data initiatives such as RapidSMS are predicting natural disasters before they hit. Big technology consumer companies are showing us that we can power our economic systems while also protecting the planet. Just last week, Microsoft pledged to replenish all water it has used in its history by 2030. This past July, Apple committed to make its massive global supply chain carbon neutral by 2030.
These initiatives and companies are pushing the markets. My hope is that technology companies of all sizes and in all regions of the world will pursue similar innovations and solutions. Let me also say a few words about new technologies and security in the Eastern European region. Central and Eastern Europe will see an immense growth in new technology users over the next decade. Groups such as GLOBSEC must push Governments and companies to ensure that this growth comes with benefits for the environment, with new skills and new jobs, with gains for privacy and advances that bridge the digital divide. I count on your leadership to help us to achieve these goals. Thank you.