75 years ago today, facing a long and difficult post-war recovery in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, world leaders gathered to sign the UN Charter, which laid a path for global cooperation to make the world a safer and fairer place for all.
Today, we are once again faced with a generation-defining moment of history that calls for global cooperation and solidarity among nations as the world continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
The crisis has also been a defining moment for information and communication technologies (ICTs).
Students around the world at all stages of their education have been able to continue learning thanks to remote education technology.
Robotics and AI have been instrumental in the healthcare sector, providing support to frontline workers around the world. Telecommunications networks faced a ‘stress test’ like no-other disaster before as people stayed connected via telephone and internet-based services.
However, COVID-19 is not the only global crisis we are facing today, nor is it the most important issue that we will be facing in the next few decades, say young people around the world.
Instead, the looming threats of climate change, increasing levels of poverty and inequitable access to clean water and sanitation remain high on the list of global priorities.
“I think the biggest issue facing the world in the next 25 years is the unequal, unaffordable and unsustainable access to sanitation that we see in a lot of developing countries at the moment,” 21 year-old Yasmin Baldi, who is half-German, half-Italian, told ITU News.
“For me, the principle problem in the next 25 years is the [ongoing] humanitarian crisis,” said David Laügt, a 23 year-old who is half-French, half-Swiss.
But the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic has reaffirmed the importance of technology in dealing with these looming crises.
“In the next 25 years, I think the world is going to face more poverty, more racism, problems with global warming and overall inequality. And I think that technology can help, because it can reach more people with vital information,” said Anne Marte Naas from Norway.
In fact, ICTs arre already playing a pivotal role in addressing global inequalities today.
That is why ICTs are a key enabler of all 17 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – the UN’s renewed commitment to creating a better and more equitable world for all by 2030.
Satellites are being used to track the effects of climate change, monitor weather patterns to help communities prepare for extreme and potentially deadly weather such as hurricanes, and provide vital communications support to help aid disaster relief efforts. The development of smart cities can increase system-wide efficiencies and help reduce carbon emissions. And digital technologies are helping countries around the world increase access to education through online learning.
“Technology has been a fundamental part of human history for its social and economic development. The challenge for the future is how we use technology to bring that development to all people, especially to close the gap between those who have more and those who have less,” said Eduardo Flores, 2019 ITU Young Innovators Competition winner.
ITU’s Connect 2030 Agenda calls on ITU’s global and diverse membership to make connectivity a top priority so everyone can benefit from today’s digital world, with a focus on using technology to help accelerate the achievement of the SDGs by 2030.
And as the world continues to face the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, similarly, ICTs continue to play a key role in creating sustainable and effective solutions to the issues that we face today.
“As cliché as it sounds, I do believe in the goodness of humanity and I think that technology can bring out the best in use and make us more united because it is easy to reach each other,” said Anne Marte Naas from Norway. “I think that it can definitely make the world a fairer and safer place, if we use it right.”
What do you think are the biggest priorities facing the world today? Go to the UN75 survey to make your voice heard and help inform global priorities now and going forward.