Let me, in the first place, thank the President of OCCAM, Pierpaolo Saporito, and all the organizers and participants for making this conference possible. It is a precious opportunity to discuss the interlinkages between development and ICTs.
Fifteen years after the launch of the MDGs we recognize the contribution the information and communication technologies have brought to the fight against poverty and suffering throughout the world. From telemedicine to disaster risk prevention and response, from education to transparency, from technology transfer to food security, virtually no key driver of development in the new millennium is exempt from the positive impact of the digital revolution.
While we are about to shift from the MDGs to the SDGs, the question to be asked is how the ICTs can continue to help us achieve the new challenge that we are going to set for ourselves at the horizon of 2030.
On the one hand ICTs have become much more widely available both in developing and developed countries. This means we dispose today of what I would define as a “basic infrastructure” that was simply not in place 15 years ago. That “basic infrastructure” needs to be further enhanced especially in developing countries, but it is of critical importance that we have there an extraordinary potential vector of ideas, knowledge and initiatives that it is our duty to fully exploit. Just to give you one example, I was struck last week by a presentation given during the ECOSOC integration segment about the new potentialities of e-learning both in developed and developing countries.
I emphasize “developed and developing countries” because ICTs are truly “universal” in their impact. From this perspective they are fully consistent with the “universal” nature of the post-2015 agenda. ICTs of course have also a huge potential of “transformative” impact and also from this perspective they respond to one of the features we will have to give to the new development agenda.
It is perhaps needless to remind that besides being a powerful instrument for good, the ICTs also present downsize challenges and risks that can only be addressed through an “approach that needs to see the joint efforts of the whole international community together with civil society and the private sector. ICTs are one of those sectors against which the new global partnership of the post-2015 agenda will have to measure the level of its ambition. This is why I believe it is an excellent choice of the organizers of this conference to have invited panelists from member states but also from civil society and the business sector.
As you know next week the UN headquarters will host the drafting session of the Financing for Development process that will bring us to the Addis Abeba conference in July. The following week will be dedicated to the “Means of implementation” discussions within the post-2015 process that will culminate in next September’s Summit in New York. I hope that some of the ideas that will emerge from your debates will be able to feed into those processes.
I wish you a very productive conference.