On Monday 8 June, President Luis Guillermo Solís was inaugurated as ITU’s first Patron for Youth and ICTs at a special ceremony at ITU Headquarters in Geneva. As part of the celebration, ITU hosted a panel ‘Youth and ICTs: Delivering Innovative Solutions for Sustainable Development’ which explored how youth can leverage information and communication technology (ICT) to stimulate sustainable development, and identified how to promote youth engagement worldwide.
According to ITU data, 45% of total internet users are under the age of 25. In the developed world, 77% of under 25s are Internet users, compared with 30% in the developing world – though as an absolute number, three times as many youths use the Internet in the developing world than in the developed. While we must continue efforts to connect the unconnected, this represents an enormous opportunity. Not only can ICTs help to provide much needed social services like health and education through innovative delivery methods, but young people play a pioneering role in driving innovation in the ICT sector.
The panel consisted of a mix of high-level policy makers and young innovators working at the grassroots level around the world – President Luis Guillermo Solís; Houlin Zhao, ITU Secretary General; Alisee de Tonnac, CEO of SeedStars World; Piret Urb, Permanent Mission of Estonia in Geneva; Regina Sipos, ITU Young Innovators Competition; Victoria Alonsoperez, co-founder of IEETECH; Fatoumata Kebe, Founder of ConnectedEco; and Catherine Maghu, co-founder of Soko.
President Luis Guillermo Solís arrived at ITU Headquarters in Geneva, greeted by ITU Secretary General, Mr Houlin Zhao.
The Costa Rican delegation, led by President Luis Guillermo Solís, is welcomed by ITU’s elected officials – Houlin Zhao, Secretary General; Malcolm Johnson, Deputy Secretary General; Francois Rancy, Director, BR; and Chaesub Lee, Director, TSB.
High-level meeting at ITU Headquarters, Geneva.
A warm welcome for President Luis Guillermo Solís at ITU’s panel on ‘Youth and ICTs: Delivering Innovative Solutions for Sustainable Development’.
Opening remarks by ITU Secretary General, Mr Houlin Zhao. He said that, “information and communication technologies are key tools to empower young people.”
President Solís was inaugurated as ITU Patron for Youth and ICT by ITU Secretary General, Mr Houlin Zhao. Mr Zhao said that President Solís would be a source of inspiration for young people around the world as well as for governments, the private sector, academia, civil society and the UN in recognizing, encouraging and supporting the accelerated use of ICTs for positive social change.
In his opening speech, President Solís said that young people are the engine of innovation in today’s society, and strategic actors for development.
An engaged audience.
The panel discussion addressed innovations in the field of social business, and discussed the role of technology in helping to accelerate the UN’s Sustainable Development agenda.
Entrepreneurism is social by definition according to Alisee de Tonnac, CEO of Seedstars World, a start-up competition which promotes, connects and invests in emerging markets.
Regina Sipos, ITU Young Innovators Competition, noted that the barriers of entry into the digital economy have become very low, but the competition has also become very fierce.
ITU Secretary General stressed ITU’s commitment to support young entrepreneurs and innovation hubs in emerging markets.
President Solís highlighted that access to education, especially for young girls, and finance are fundamental to entrepreneurship.
Twitter users posed their questions to the panel using the hashtag #YouthNow.
President Solís in the ITU Studio.
Watch the full interview here.