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SG/SM/21511

Immense Development Opportunities of Digital Technology Must Be Guided by Safety, Transparency, Secretary-General Tells Global Conference on Electronic Governance

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the International Conference on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance, in Guimarães, Portugal, today:

This conference on electronic governance reflects the tremendous opportunities offered by digital technology.  Opportunities to connect the billions who remain offline to the resources along the information superhighway.  Opportunities for Governments to bring services closer to their citizens — and give them the power to make their voices heard.  And opportunities for all countries — particularly developing ones — to create new avenues of job creation, economic recovery, and growth for their people.

But this year’s theme — “Digital Governance for Social, Economic and Environmental Prosperity” — reminds us that these opportunities are only possible with effective guardrails in place.  Safety, transparency, privacy and protection must be at the core of our approach.  These guiding principles will be central to the Global Digital Compact that is being developed in the lead-up to the Summit of the Future in 2024.  Together, we must forge new solutions as we build transformational digital systems that can serve all people.

The possibilities of digital technology are extraordinary.  But so too are its perils.  The United Nations is counting on your ideas, vision and leadership as we balance the risks of digital technology with its great rewards.

For information media. Not an official record.