Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged students to use information technology and the Internet creatively to chart a better future for humanity, saying that the web is a powerful resource and a tool for development.
“The web is integral to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Online classrooms and e-learning are creating new opportunities for education,” the Secretary-General said in a message to the 35th UN International School-UN Conference, whose theme this year is “The Web: Wiring the World.”
“Web-based data collection is a key to charting our progress and identifying areas requiring extra attention. Mobile phones with broadband technology are helping to identify malnourished children and to connect HIV counsellors with patients,” Mr. Ban told the conference in New York.
He underlined the UN’s commitment to the freedom of information, as proclaimed in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and to promoting universal access to the information and communications technologies (ICTs) that are central to realizing that right.
“One initiative through which we are pursuing this effort is the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, which was launched last year by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and UNESCO [UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization] and which aims to bring broadband technology to everyone, everywhere, so that countries at all stages of development can benefit,” Mr. Ban said.
Emphasizing the power of the Internet to bring about social change, the Secretary-General cited the “dramatic events in North Africa and the Middle East,” where young people have used the web “to help transform societies and turn the tides of history.”
“It is young people like you who are leading this revolution, who are not only finding their voices online but are using the technology to shape a better future for all of us,” said Mr. Ban.
Young people from 48 schools representing 19 countries are taking part in the two-day conference, which is examining such issues as the role of the Internet in political movements, the moral and ethical questions concerning the privacy of information, and the potential use of the Internet during conflicts such as cyber warfare.