20.09.2010 - UNESCOPRESS

Broadband Commission urges broadband access for all

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), stressed the important role of broadband networks in social and economic development when they opened the second meeting of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development in New York on 19 September.

Broadband networks have a major role to play in the delivery of quality education, the sharing of scientific and technological knowledge, the furtherance of social cohesion and the promotion of cultural diversity,” the Director-General said in her address to the meeting. They can also contribute to dialogue among cultures, thereby promoting peace as well as sustainable development.”

UNESCO is working to build “a people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society where everyone can create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge,” she said.

“Broadband is the next tipping point, the next truly transformational Technology,” said Hamadan Touré.  “It can generate jobs, drive growth and productivity, and underpin long-term economic competitiveness. It is also the most powerful tool we have at our disposal in our race to meet the Millennium Development Goals, which are now just five years away.”

At the meeting, the Commission presented its final Report and Declaration to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The report includes a series of recommendations designed to serve as a global blueprint for rapid broadband development in countries worldwide.

Recent research suggests a strong link between broadband penetration and
economic growth. According to the Commission report, “In the 21st century, affordable, ubiquitous broadband networks will be as critical to social and economic prosperity as networks like transport, water and power. Broadband will serve as tomorrow’s fountain of innovation. It represents the ripening of the digital revolution, the fruits of which have yet to be invented or even imagined.”

The report was presented to the UN Secretary-General during a side-event held in conjunction with the United Nations Millennium development Goals Summit. Receiving the report, Mr Ban noted the power of technology to inject new impetus into the development paradigm.

The Broadband Commission for Digital Development was formed in May 2010 to promote the adoption of broadband-friendly practices and policies and heighten awareness about the benefits broadband access offers.  The Commission comprises 58 leaders from across public and private sectors. It is co-chaired by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Carlos Slim Helú, Honorary Lifetime Chairman of Mexico’s Grupo Carso. Irina Bokova and Hamadoun Touré serve as joint vice-chairs.


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