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New Technologies: A Key Driver of Development for All

“We should focus on inclusive policies,” said the Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD), Daniela Bas. Credit: Jean-Baptiste Viallet/IPS

UNITED NATIONS, Apr 10 2014 (IPS) - In a report released here, the U.N. Commission for Social Development (UNCSD) stressed that information and communications technologies (ICT) can contribute to people’s empowerment and serve as a crucial means of expanding access to information and opportunities.

“New technologies are a key driver of development for all,” the Permanent Representative of El Salvador to the United Nations Ambassador Carlos Enrique García González, said at a panel discussion here.

One of the highlights of the discussion was the digital innovations that have brought about a substantial change in society, and the proper use of new technologies in the future.

ICTs are seen as powerful tools for poverty eradication, economic, sustainable and social development.

They help disseminate valuable information on public services, health care, education and training, livelihoods and rights, and also connect individuals with one another, thereby improving social inclusion facilitating citizen participation, according to the panellists.

However, access to new technologies is still not evenly distributed across countries. A digital divide continues between developed and developing countries.

“I encourage all to think about ICT as a tool in addressing the financial inclusion gap,” said Karen L. Miller, Chief Knowledge and Communication Officer at the Women’s World Banking.

In 2009, the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor estimated that mobile financial services in the developing world created a market worth up to five billion dollars by 2012.

Panellists also stated that ICT are able to improve industrial processes, while also aiding the agricultural sector through the dissemination of information on new techniques, market developments, commodity prices and weather forecasts.

The UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning, Amina J. Mohammed, warned that it requires good governance and good information.

“Information empowers citizens as it promotes social equality,” she added.

Masato Usui, Counsellor from the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations, stressed that access to new technologies can play a vital role in managing natural disasters.

It also streamlines emergency responses and deploys geographic information systems and satellite data.

Panellists also agreed that new technologies are able to create more jobs through innovation and through the promotion of global partnership for development, as well as facilitating e-participation that gives individuals the ability to voice their opinions helping them organize around common causes.

“The ICT revolution is here. As it is a neutral tool, we need to learn how to use the information we receive,” concluded Gonzales.

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