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Ban underlines the role of information technologies in accelerating development

By United Nations
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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today underlined the role of information and communications technologies (ICTs) in accelerating socio-economic development, highlighting their potential to enable the delivery of basic social services to even the remotest areas of the world.

“Through e-learning, e-health, e-government, climate monitoring and more, today's and tomorrow's technologies will help bring the Millennium Development Goals [MDGs] within reach,” Mr. Ban said in his message to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum, which got under way today in Geneva.

“The power of fixed and mobile broadband will further improve our ability to extend basic services to communities – even those in the remotest places – in ways that where inconceivable when the MDGs were first articulated more than a decade ago.

“With the agreed international deadline of 2015 fast approaching, our priority must be to translate the partnerships and progress generated by the WSIS process into tangible achievements that are globally and equitably distributed,” he added.

World leaders, experts, government representatives and United Nations officials are attending the five-day forum to discuss the use of ICTs to accelerate development and give impetus to efforts to achieve the global poverty reduction goals.

Guest speakers at today's opening ceremony included government ministers from 17 countries.

Delegates also heard from Hamadoun Touré, the Secretary-General of the UN International Telecommunications Union (ITU); Supachai Panitchpakdi, the Secretary-General of UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD); Juan Somavia, Director-General of the UN International Labour Organization (ILO); Janis Karklins, the Deputy Director of the UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), as well as other senior officials in the ICT field.

Dr. Touré stressed the importance of broadband to national economic and social development.

“I think we are all very much aware of how close we are to the 2015 deadline for meeting the WSIS targets and the Millennium Development Goals. We have made quite extraordinary progress in terms of connectivity, the creation of an enabling environment, and cybersecurity. The next major step must be to repeat the 'mobile miracle' for broadband Internet,” he said.

The Forum will also serve as the venue for the UN Group on the Information Society's first meeting of the open consultation process on the overall review of the implementation of the WSIS outcomes.

As well as reviewing progress towards the WSIS targets set for 2015, this year's forum will also foster interactive debate and the exchange of information on topics such as rural development, multilingualism, environmental sustainability, education, health care and innovation.

The Secretary-General stressed that by engaging governments, the UN family, civil society and the private sector, the international community has been able to accelerate the achievement of targets to improve access to ICTs for people and communities worldwide.

“With the agreed international [MDG] deadline of 2015 fast approaching, our priority must be to translate the partnerships and progress generated by the WSIS process into tangible achievements that are globally and equitably distributed,” he said.

More than 1,000 representatives from 140 countries are expected to attend the week-long event, organized jointly by ITU, UNESCO, UNCTAD and the UN Development Programme (UNDP).