President Kagame, Carlos Slim and ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao receive UNESCO 70th Anniversary Medal

On 27 February, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, presented the UNESCO 70th Anniversary Medal to the President of the Republic of Rwanda, HE Mr Paul Kagame, to the President of the Carlos Slim Foundation, Mr Carlos Slim Helú, and to the Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Mr Houlin Zhao, of before the assembled Member States of UNESCO. The award was made in recognition of their leading contribution to harnessing new ICTs for the benefit of all.

President Kagame and Carlos Slim Helú were at UNESCO in their capacity as co-chairs of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, whose 11th meeting was held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris from 26 to 27 February. The award ceremony took place during the Information Meeting held by the Director-General with Member States on the Broadband Commission for Digital Development.

Presenting the medal to President Kagame, the Director-General said: “In this special year for UNESCO, I am honoured to present the UNESCO 70th Anniversary Medal to His Excellency Paul Kagame -- in recognition of his unerring commitment to the inclusive development of “broadband for all” as a force of inclusion and empowerment, to the advancement of education and ICTs for sustainable development, and his dedication to the promotion of UNESCO’s core values and principles.”

"I see this as a reflection of Rwanda's leadership and the vision of President Kagame for building an inclusive and sustainable knowledge society," said Irina Bokova.

"Broadband has helped accelerate progress toward the Millennium Development Goals, by bringing many people into networks of learning and prosperity, for the first time. Just as importantly, broadband can be used to find new ways, to deepen appreciation, of the shared universal values, which lie at the heart of every human culture,” said President Kagame.

"The only purpose of advocacy, is to drive action. My appeal to all of us, is to redouble our efforts, to place ICTs at the centre of the development agenda."

In presenting the medal to Mr Carlos Slim Helú, the Director-General said: "I wish to thank Mr Carlos Slim for his leading commitment to harnessing the power of all new technologies for building more inclusive and sustainable knowledge societies -- this has never been so important today."

“I congratulate UNESCO for 70 years of contributions, their task is fundamental in the context of a new era for civilization. Their efforts in the area of broadband emphasize the importance and urgency of the use of technology in education and training for employment," said Carlos Slim Helú.

"The Broadband Commission for Digital Development is an essential tool for innovation for sustainable and inclusive development for all -- this is a flagship for UNESCO in its action to build a better future for all, and this is a core message of this 70th anniversary of the Organisation," said Irina Bokova. "For this reason, I am deeply grateful to HE President Kagame, Mr Slim and Mr Zhao for their vision and leadership."

In handing the medal to Mr Zhao, co-vice chair of the Broadband Commission, who was on his first official visit to UNESCO, the Director-General said: "This marks the beginning of ever closer cooperation between UNESCO and ITU, for which I am deeply grateful and honoured to present the UNESCO 70th Anniversary Medal to Mr Zhao."

“It is a great honor to receive this medal from UNESCO alongside President Kagame and Carlos Slim Helú, both of whom have been exceptional leaders in advocating for the transformative power of ICTs. Their invaluable contribution to the Broadband Commission has put the issue of ICT development on the international stage at a crucial moment, as the world prepares to set new Sustainable Development Goals for tomorrow’s world," said Mr Zhao.

The information meeting with UNESCO Member States on the work of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development was held to explore the work of the Commission, launched in 2010, in response to the call by the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon to step up efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals.

The discussion saw wide-ranging interventions from Permanent Delegates and Ambassadors, from across the world, including Gabon, Malaysia and Switzerland, as well as Benin, Ghana and the Gambia.

Rich experience was shared by Member States, with the strong view that new ICTs must have a central place in the post-2015 agenda. 

A large number of Broadband Commissioners, coming from Government, research, the private sector, were present at the meeting, interacting with Member States, sharing their views and experience -- including from Intel, Microsoft, KT Corporation, Telefonica and Huawei Technologies.

"I believe the Broadband Commission embodies the soft power all societies need today, to harness the full transformational force of new technologies for inclusive knowledge societies," concluded the Director-General, appealing to Member States to place this message at the core of the future sustainable development agenda.