New York

17 September 2016

Secretary-General's message to Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development

[Delivered by Dr. David Nabarro, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development]

I am pleased to send greetings to this important meeting, and I commend your commitment to sustainable development.  I was honoured to attend your first meeting in 2010 when I challenged your partnership to do two things.  First, I asked you to highlight to Governments the importance of information and communication technology generally, and broadband specifically, so that rollout would be accelerated and the benefits of ICTs brought to as many people as quickly as possible.  Second, I asked you to work together to make broadband technology more affordable.  You not only took my words to heart, your actions have produced results beyond my greatest expectations. 

Thanks to the work of the Broadband Commission, ITU, UNESCO and many others, Member States agreed in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development on the importance of ICTs, broadband and global interconnectedness for bridging the digital divide, developing knowledge societies and accelerating human progress. 

The 2030 Agenda has specific targets for ICT deployment for education and gender equality and it calls for universal and affordable access to the Internet by 2020.  Sustainable Development Goal 17 also recognizes ICTs as a cross-cutting catalyst for achieving all the Goals.  

However, broadband remains too expensive in the developing world where it most needed for promoting social and economic equity and progress.  A huge Internet gender divide persists and the enabling potential of ICTs is inadequately reflected in United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks and national poverty reduction strategies.  Additionally, it is clear that achieving the SDGs will require a data revolution to ensure no one is left behind.  There is an urgent need for innovation in using new sources of digital data, and for new policy frameworks to ensure data privacy and responsible use.

We have a long way to go on our journey to peace, prosperity, dignity and opportunity for all.  ICTs, broadband technology and the Internet are critical to this journey.  And partnerships such as the Broadband Commission have a significant role to play.  I thank you for your commitment and count on your continued support in creating an equitable, human rights-based knowledge society that will benefit every woman, man and child on this planet.