15 March 2005

Secretary-General Reiterates Determination to Build Global, Inclusive Information Society, in Message to Ceremony Launching Digital Solidarity Fund in Geneva

NEW YORK, 14 March (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of the message by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the ceremony marking the launch of the Digital Solidarity Fund, in Geneva, today, delivered by Sergei Ordzhonikidze, Director-General, United Nations Office at Geneva:

It gives me great pleasure to send my greetings to all those who have gathered for the launch of the Digital Solidarity Fund, especially President Wade of Senegal, who has been a driving force of this initiative.

The digital revolution continues to transform our lives.  The use of information and communication technologies is shrinking distances, fostering new approaches to existing challenges, and bringing dramatic changes in the economic, social and cultural realms.

Yet, there is considerable distance to be travelled to bridge the gap between those who have access to the Internet and other technologies, and those who do not.  Our determination to build a truly global and inclusive information society is what lies at the heart of the work we did in December 2003 at the World Summit in Geneva, and which will continue later this year in Tunis and beyond.

The Digital Solidarity Fund should be seen as a concrete manifestation of our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and to seek the innovative sources of financing for development called for in the Monterrey Consensus. It can help harness the potential of information and communication technologies to empower poor and marginalized people.  It embodies the spirit of partnership among stakeholders that is so essential for success.  It builds on grass-roots aspirations and recognizes the key role of local authorities.  And it will help forge close and productive ties with the private sector.

I would like to thank all involved in the Fund for their support.  This is an important contribution to the fight against poverty and to the broader agenda of change at the United Nations.  Please accept my best wishes for a successful launch.

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