Technology fosters development, says UN Development Chief

01 Nov 2011

London - Internet communications technologies alone will not automatically reduce disparities or improve living conditions for all – but they do create important platforms to improve human development, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark said today at the London Conference on Cyberspace. (#LondonCyber)

“By linking remote health clinics with specialist diagnostic centers, we have seen improvements in maternal and child health outcomes,” Clark said at the conference, which sought foster an inclusive dialogue to help guide behaviour in cyberspace. “By linking students in rural areas with teachers and the wealth of knowledge available in cyberspace, we have witnessed transformation in the education sector.  And by enabling people to interface with public institutions and services – all of these things can be catalysts for human development.”

Helen Clark was speaking as part of a conference panel that included Wikipedia founder Jim Wales, Yemeni youth activist Atiaf Alzazir, India’s Minister of Communications Sachin Pilot, and UK Foreign Secretary William Hague.

“Internet communications technologies play a catalytic role in advancing human development by improving access to information and service delivery, and enabling broader democratic participation,” Helen Clark added. “They can transform the way governments and development actors work, to ensure that our policies and programmes are more responsive to the needs and priorities of the poor and marginalized.” 

UNDP works on initiatives that use technology to foster development. For example, over 4,000 e-services centers are being deployed around Bangladesh to bring public and private services closer to local communities through “Digital Bangladesh”, a national agenda to use ICTs to help meet goals in education, health, employment, and poverty reduction.

In Ethiopia, UNDP supported the establishment of the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange that empowers small farmers by improving the flow of information through computerized price-tracking, and enables electronic transactions between buyers and sellers. This information flows back to the farmers through the now ubiquitous mobile phone.