Traffic police of Lujiang county, Anhui province are monitoring and managing traffic by applying new technologies, February 11, 2018. (Photo by Zuo Xuechang from People’s Daily Online)

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday said that efforts must be made to harness digital technologies to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

“Our collective challenge is to harness digital technologies to serve the world — to be an enabler, an equalizer, and to accelerate the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals,” the UN chief told the virtual event Digital Cooperation: Action Today for Future Generations.

“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,” he said.

“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?” said the secretary-general.

“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?” Guterres further asked.

“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,” said the UN chief.

Recalling his Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, aiming to amass resources and solidarity to connect, respect, and protect all people everywhere, the UN chief said that “I count on all of us — governments, civil society, and the private sector — to carry forward the roadmap for the benefit of all.”

“The time to act is now,” said the secretary-general.

Hosted by the UN Children’s Fund, the International Telecommunication Union, the UN Development Programme and the office of the UN secretary-general’s special adviser, the event features three multi-stakeholder panels comprised of heads of states or governments, technology CEOs and eminent tech personalities.

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