H.E. MR. Ali HACHANI, President of ECOSOC
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Tunisia to the United Nations
New York, 20 November 2006
Mr. Mike Lackey,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to welcome you to the United Nations headquarters today in my role as President of the ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council). We are very pleased to have you participate in this three-day event, which will look at how information and communication technologies, especially the world wide web, can be leveraged to improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.
I would like to recognize AIT Global for its long-standing cooperation with the United Nations community, including in the organization of these high-level series of meetings which bring together diplomats, officials and business executives.
Please allow me to take a moment to discuss the Economic and Social Council and its relationship to information and communication technologies for development.
As you may know, the Economic and Social Council is composed of 54 member governments and serves as the central forum for discussing international economic and social issues, and for formulating policy recommendations addressed to Member States and the United Nations system on such issues as promoting higher standards of living, full employment, and economic and social progress; identifying solutions to international economic, social and health problems; facilitating international cultural and educational cooperation; and encouraging universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The ECOSOC has been interested in the nexus of ICT and socio-economic development for many years. Notably, its High-level Segment in July 2000 addressed the topic “Development and international cooperation in the twenty-first century: the role of information technology in the context of a knowledge-based global economy”, and the Council has since continued to follow this issue closely. At the end of its Substantive session, the ECOSOC mandated the Secretary-General to form the UN ICT Task Force, which was subsequently launched in 2001.
Until the conclusion of its mandate at the end of 2005, the ECOSOC received annual reports of the Task Force and repeatedly welcomed its valuable contribution to harnessing the potential of information and communication technologies as powerful tools with which to foster socio-economic development and contribute to the realization of internationally agreed development goals, including those contained in the United Nations Millennium Declaration.
At the ECOSOC substantive session in July of this year — in line with recommendations from the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) – the Council encouraged the development of multi-stakeholder processes at the international level aimed at engaging all stakeholders in open and inclusive collaborative initiatives and partnerships to enhance the impact of information and communication technologies on the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals.
One such international, multi-stakeholder process that I welcome is a co-organizer of this event – the Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies and Development (GAID). The Alliance is an initiative of the Secretary-General launched earlier this year in Kuala Lumpur and presently Chaired by Craig Barrett of Intel Corporation.
Implementing the recommendations that emerged from the WSIS is an enormous challenge which requires a robust, global response. We all look to you, members of the information technology industry, to actively support the work of the United Nations in this field. Your participation in meetings like this and your interaction with members of delegations to the United Nations will provide learning opportunities for all, help forge mutually beneficial relations and open new dialogue for cooperation between the public and private sectors.
Throughout the course of this meeting, I urge each of you to contemplate what you and your organization are contributing or might contribute to ensure that all people have access to and safely enjoy the benefits of information and communication technologies to improve their quality of life.
I wish you all the best for a productive meeting.
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Endnote Comments of Gary Beach,
Publisher of CIO Magazine,
to the First Day Sessions of the 18th AIT Global Symposium, November 20th
Ali Hachani, president of the UN Economic and Social Council, was first to speak on the opening panel. Mr. Hachani issued a key challenge to all attendees: listen well to the day’s speakers and come away with ideas on how governments, non governmental organizations and private enterprises can better work together to improve the social and economic conditions for all the citizens of the world.
Rakesh Asthana, senior manager for the information systems group at The World Bank followed and underscored the urgency of the situation and need for speed: “everything is happening so quickly…. Kenyans are selling shoes on the Internet, midwifes are using telemedicine to better immunize expectant mothers in India”
Mr. Asthana closed with a poignant question to conference attendees when he asked, “What measurable impact is ICT having on social and economic development on our planet?”
According to Mr. Asthana, “the jury is still out”.
Mr. Sarbuland Khan, executive coordinator of the Secretariat of The UN Global Alliance for ICT and Development then made an impassioned plea to the private sector and their “creative entrepreneurial spirit” to be key partners to develop programs that foster “real engagement through real partnerships.” Mr. Khan posed this question – a challenge – to the audience: “How do you engage yourself, your country, your business in the Global Alliance for ICT and Development?” Mr. Khan continued, “There is no magic wand.” He spoke to business leaders and encouraged them to “translate the goals of ICT into business terms…. start a dialogue with clear goals and objectives…nothing happens until that dialogue begins.”
David Kirkpatrick, senior editor, Fortune Magazine, was the opening keynote and covered a wide range of technology topics.
With 80% of the world’s population within wireless access, Mr. Kirkpatrick claimed, “The cellphone is much more important than the personal computer,” as a tool for the Global Alliance’s goal. He also posed this question to the audience: “Will the cellphone be considered the next human right?” He further claimed some manufacturers had developed a cellphone that produced 400 hours of battery life.
He commented on Dr. Nicholas Negroponte’s “One Laptop Per Child” (OLPC) project where Mr. Negroponte is working with firms like microprocessor manufacturer AMD to produce personal computers that cost $100.
The innovative technology in the OLPC is not the project’s key outcome. Rather, according to Mr. Kirkpatrick, it is the “raising of awareness to the developed world the incredible technological challenges, and economic opportunities, of the developing areas of the world. He encouraged the audience to read the book “Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid.”
Mr. Kirkpatrick touched on the open source software movement but cautioned attendees to remember, “Open source is not free.” He challenged all nations represented in the auditorium to make “high speed broadband networks job ICT job #1” and commented that new wireless technologies like “Wi-Max” will be the developed countries most important technological “gift” to the developing world.
Mr. Kirkpatrick closed his keynote by chastising the private sector ICT efforts. “The private sector is not fully engaged,” he said, “the ICT movement needs more buy-in from business” though he went on to say the “next five years will be ‘golden years’ for the industry.”
Mario Rivas, corporate vice president, strategy and management, for AMD was next to speak and he outlined AMD’s “50 By 15” initiative which strives to accelerate ICT development by insuring 50 percent of the world’s population has the ability to compute by 2015. Mr. Rivas challenged the audience to get more involved by saying the acceleration of ICT throughout the world is “personal” and its realization will happen even faster if we all “dream” it to happen. Mr. Rivas took the developed world to task when he said, “information and communication technology still stays with the haves more than the have-nots,” and cautioned the developing nations to strike the right balance between “learning and gaming” when you achieve full access to computing technology.
Michael Lackey, president of AIT Global, thanked Mr. Rivas for his comments and his call for technology to help “mankind and womankind” around the world. Mr. Lackey then shared with the audience the gender imbalance per technology in the developed world by citing that 93% of the several hundred million people that consume the content of International Data Group, the world’s largest information technology service firm, are men. He enthusiastically called on the audience to work hard to correct that imbalance in the future.
Sandy Carter, vice president, service oriented architecture strategy, at IBM was the second morning keynote speaker. According to Ms. Carter, the technological wheels of innovation are beginning to spin faster and faster but before governments, non-government and private enterprises embrace innovation, they must be “willing to change.” Without that willingness, Ms. Carter said, ICT efforts will not succeed.
Ms. Carter offered a business briefing for the audience on what service-oriented architecture is and how their governments and firms could leverage it to be more innovative. She recommended that practitioners in the audience, interested in moving to a SOA environment, start with a governmental/business challenge – not per se a technological challenge – and start small. Citing internal IBM research Ms. Carter reported 97% of SOA projects IBM builds for customers focus on lowering costs. Ms. Carter’s keynote underscored how the world of technology is quickly moving to a services model — a model that is often predicated on a government or business need.
Ms. Carter closed her comments by challenging the audience with this question: “Are you ready for innovation?”
Mr. Philippe Lecoq, president, Alphinat, a Canadian technology services company was next to the podium. Mr. Lecoq underscored the importance of Ms. Carter’s “are you willing to change and innovate” challenge and said the successful outcome of a successful ICT or private enterprise service oriented architecture implementation was not lower costs, more efficiency but rather “more satisfied citizens, customers and stakeholders”.
Travis White, senior vice president, Lawson Software, was the next speaker and again echoed the theme of the day “business change is unrelenting.” Mr White cautioned the audience about enterprise software when he said “it is monolithic in nature, it is hard to change and it is built on the domino theory where one small problem here can cause a cascading series of problems.” He recommended to the audience to keep their enterprise and service oriented architecture plans “simple” and build them for “agility and speed.” Mr. White closed his comments touching on how SOA architecture can be applied to helping private firms in the United States be more vigilant in their compliance efforts.
Steve Fox, editor-in-chief, for Infoworld moderated a panel on SOA implementation. In his opening comments to the panel Mr. Fox claimed the “big difference in SOA and past iterations of enterprise software is this: SOA works.”
Panel discussions focused on SOA implementations. Panel observations included the following: SOA is the latest iteration of a late 1990s software initiative called “web services” and the “technology business is quickly morphing from a hardware/software business to a services business
The afternoon sessions focused on key security and privacy issues and the keynote was Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian and Cyberangels, and media star in the New York City area. Mr. Sliwa recounted his experiences in founding the Guardian Angels in the 1980s and its evolution from perception as outcast renegades to part of the overall solution.
Mr. Sliwa’s efforts were the embodiment of Mr. Khan’s earlier call in the day for “creative entrepreneurial spirit, real involvement and real engagement.”
Mr. Sliwa’s call to leverage personal and corporate volunteerism was received well by the audience.
Michelle Dennedy, chief privacy officer, Sun Microsystems was the next speaker. Ms. Dennedy addressed security and privacy issues. “Security and risk mitigation”., she said, “is as much about people as it is about the latest technology.” Continuing the people factor Ms. Dennedy said, “it is the obligation of governments, businesses and non-government organizations to train people to make informed choices” as pertains to security and risk mitigation. “Trust happens,” according to Ms. Dennedy, “when privacy is well-managed and transparent.”
Mr. Sanjay Agnani, president of Intelligent Wave USA followed Ms. Dennedy to the podium and claimed “80 percent of annual data security losses were from inside a business.” This echoes a theme prevalent in the security business that good security policies are as much about “keeping the good stuff in while keeping the bad stuff out.”
A final afternoon security panel focused on public/private partnerships that are possible in the security space. Panel members called for businesses, governments and NGOs to keep their “security measures simple” (a recommendation made earlier about SOA) and underscored the “people” factor when a panel member claimed, “sound security policies come down to education.”
Ernest Schirmer, panel moderator, cautioned the audience “the bad guys are better equipped and sometimes more economically incentivized to create havoc than the good guys.”