17 May 2014 – With digital development now well recognized as a transformative tool to fast-track sustainable development, the United Nations is marking World Telecommunication and Information Society Day with calls on the global community to roll-out high-speed broadband networks, making digital communication affordable as well as universally accessible.
“Broadband connectivity is a critical element today in ensuring that information and communication technologies are used as effective delivery vehicles for health, education, governance, trade and commerce in order to achieve sustainable socio-economic growth,” declared Hamadoun I. Touré, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in his message on the Day.
Noting that the theme of this year's Day is “Broadband for Sustainable Development”, he said that ITU's efforts in line with that agenda focus on the dual goals of supporting the deployment of mobile broadband and the continued rollout of fixed-line technologies along with a thrust on meeting the global challenges of our times, such as combating climate change.
“I call upon our partners – Governments, industry, academia and technical experts – to identify key gaps in broadband research and development, [and ] infrastructure,” Mr. Touré said, also urging stakeholders to define policy priorities for action in the areas of allocating radio frequency spectrum for broadband, and to seek leading edge technological solutions, particularly in the extension of broadband access into rural areas, least developed countries and small island developing States.
In his message, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said broadband connectivity is a transformative tool to achieve the three pillars of sustainable development – economic growth, social inclusion and environmental balance.
“It is a key element of the debate on the post-2015 development agenda,” he said, stressing that broadband networks provide smart eco-friendly solutions to manage booming cities and transport systems; conduct long-distance diagnosis and treatment for patients in remote locations; and promote innovative educational applications for students around the world.
Noting that the ITU was approaching its 150th anniversary next year, he urged stakeholders to work together to bridge the digital divide and harness the power of technology to create a better and more sustainable future for all.
Echoing many of those sentiments UN General Assembly President John Ashe said that modern communication tools make it possible to connect the remotest communities and endow people with information and knowledge so they can realize their social, cultural and economic aspirations.
“As we look to advance the post-2015 development agenda through North-South, South-South cooperation, to use ICT to advance our development goals, and to set the stage for a more technologically inclusive world, I encourage us to seek every solution that information and communication technologies offer to create a better future for all,” he said.