Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message for World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, observed on 17 May:
Digital technologies sustain life, work, health and learning for billions of people. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses, Governments and the digital community have proven resilient and innovative, helping to protect lives and livelihoods. These challenging times have accelerated the transformation everywhere.
Yet, 3.7 billion people — nearly half the world’s population — remain unconnected to the Internet; and of these, the majority are women. They, too, must be included if we are to make the possibilities of 5G, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, digital health and other technologies truly transformative and sustainable.
We must also protect against the dangers of digital technologies, from the spread of hatred and misinformation to cyberattacks and the exploitation of our data.
The United Nations, through a Road Map for Digital Cooperation and the vital work of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), aims to make the transformation equitable, safe, inclusive and affordable for all, with full respect for human rights.
On World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, let us commit to work together to defeat COVID-19 and ensure that digital technologies are a force for good that help us to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and leave no one behind.