23 September 2020

Humanity Must Leave Inclusive Technological Legacy for Future Generations, Secretary-General Says, Warning of Deepening Digital Divide

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the high-level event on “Digital Cooperation:  Action for Future Generations”, held today:

The United Nations was founded 75 years ago, at the outset of the nuclear era, to provide a global platform for addressing our world’s most pressing challenges, to secure peace and to safeguard the future for generations to come.  Today, a new technological era is upon us — one that beckons with vast opportunity, but also new risks to global peace, stability and development.

We must ask a fundamental question about the future:  What kind of world are we going to leave for our children?  Will our legacy be a set of technologies that only boost the wealthiest and most connected of our societies while leaving the rest of the world unconnected and further behind?  Or will we bequeath future generations a digital world that strengthens human rights, advances peace and improves all lives, including the most vulnerable?

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought additional urgency to these questions.  The virus has highlighted and exacerbated global inequalities, including the digital divide.  But, the response has also illustrated the central role of technology in keeping economies and health systems running, young people learning and everyone connected.

Our collective challenge is to harness digital technologies to serve the world — to be an enabler, an equalizer and to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

In my Road Map for Digital Cooperation, I made a call to connect, respect and protect all people everywhere.  I count on all of us — Governments, civil society and the private sector — to carry forward the Road Map for the benefit of all.  The time to act is now.

For information media. Not an official record.