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We cannot let our guards down now

Thriving with tech

Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Secretary-General, ITU

This speech was originally delivered by video link at the Huawei Corporate Sustainability Development Forum in Dongguan, China in November 2023. It has been edited for length.

How can we thrive together with tech, while realizing sustainable development?

No question is more urgent right now. Only 15% of the targets of the UN Sustainable Development Goals are on track to be achieved by 2030 – and because digital technologies can accelerate progress on 70% of these targets, if harnessed responsibly.

To meet this challenge and opportunity, ITU focuses its efforts on two key areas: universal connectivity and sustainable digital transformation.

But no one can do this alone. I want to thank Huawei for its contributions to our work in radiocommunications, standardization, and development, and for its commitment to ITU's mission. 

We see it, for example, in the strong pledges that Huawei made under our Partner2Connect Digital Coalition, be it to deliver connectivity to over 120 million people in remote areas in 80 countries by 2025, or to provide training opportunities for thousands of ICT professionals in Cambodia – our first Partner2Connect country. 

Commitments like these have galvanized us to set a new target of US$100 billion for meaningful connectivity and sustainable digital transformation globally by 2026.

We cannot let our guards down now, not when one-third of humanity is still offline.

We have to be bold, and we have to be ambitious, and we have to be inclusive, welcoming all voices and all perspectives, including that of young people. 

I was pleased to see ITU's Generation Connect Youth envoys take part in the Asia-Pacific Seeds for the Future Summit, organized by Huawei and others in September.  

We are standing at an inflection point in tech history. What we do next will matter for generations to come.

Let's not choose between tech and sustainable development. We need both.

Let's thrive together with tech.

Let's build a digital future that advances progress for people and planet.

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