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UN telecom agency vows to continue battle against online threats and climate change

UN telecom agency vows to continue battle against online threats and climate change

ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré
The United Nations telecommunications agency has wrapped up a high-level conference with a declaration pledging to continue its efforts in combating threats to internet security and in reducing the impact of climate change on the world.

Climate change and cybersecurity are two of the most important challenges facing the world today, according to the declaration read out by Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of the UN International Telecommunications Union (ITU), at the end of the two-day meeting in Geneva.

The declaration stressed that the rapid growth of information and communication technology (ICT) networks has enabled opportunists to exploit online vulnerabilities and attack countries’ critical infrastructure. It noted that spam is a constant and growing problem that threatens to stretch the capacity of the Internet to transport data, while “phishing” and “malware” affect computer systems around the globe.

“The costs associated with cyber-threats and cyber-attacks are real and significant,” Mr. Touré stated. “Not only in terms of lost revenue, breaches of sensitive data, cyber-attacks and network outages but also in terms of lives ruined by identity theft, debts run up on plundered credit cards or the online exploitation of children.”

The ITU statement highlighted the leading role it has taken in promoting cybersecurity, specifically the work by a group of experts in reviewing the issues and developing a set of proposals to promote cybersecurity and its Child Online Protection (COP) initiative, providing guidance on safe Internet behaviour.

The declaration also highlighted the efforts of the ITU to help developing countries to mitigate the effects of climate change, including the use of emergency telecommunications and alerting systems for disaster relief.

A recent resolution encouraging ITU Member States to work towards reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from the use of ICTs, in line with the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change, was also spotlighted in the declaration, saying that “ITU aims to achieve climate neutrality for its operations within three years, and ITU is at the forefront of this progress compared with many other international organizations.”

Presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso were among some 400 participants at the high-level segment of the ITU Governing Council, which brought together ministers, ambassadors, heads of regulatory organizations and UN agencies.