From UN News Centre


17 May 2016 – The global sustainable development agenda recognizes the great potential of information and communication technology to accelerate human progress, bridge the digital divide and advance knowledge, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, marking World Telecommunication and Information Society Day with a call for Governments, businesses and civil society leaders to develop new technologies that have a lasting social impact.

In his message for the Day, the UN chief highlighted that the 17 Sustainable Development Goals specifically call for employing information and communication technology (ICT) to realize the overall vision of a life of dignity for all people.

“These technologies provide smart solutions to address climate change, hunger, poverty and other global challenges,” the Secretary-General said. “They are key instruments for providing mobile health care and access to education, empowering women, improving efficiencies in industrial and agricultural production, and safeguarding the environment.”

Celebrated each year on 17 May, the Day marks the anniversary of the signature of the first International Telegraph Convention in 1865 which led to the creation of the UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The theme for this year is “ICT entrepreneurship for social impact.”

In his message, Mr. Ban highlighted that start-ups and technology hubs in the ICT sector are the drivers of innovative and practical solutions that can contribute to inclusive growth. Small to medium-sized enterprises make up more than 90 per cent of all businesses worldwide, and represent a path out of poverty for many developing countries.

Noting that young people are especially fluent in the use of ICTs, the Secretary-General said that leaders should invest in young innovators, who are part of the largest generation of youth in history.

“As entrepreneurs,

[youth] can pioneer transformative technology, create jobs and benefit whole economies,” Mr. Ban stressed.

In addition, the Secretary-General said that ICTs can create more inclusive societies for persons with disabilities.

“They can help children to learn and the elderly to stay active. And ICTs can connect people around the world in common cause,” Mr. Ban said.

“On this World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, let us resolve to harness the power of technology to create a better future for all,” he added.

Read UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s full remarks here: