Technology front and center at UNGA

The word “technology” was mentioned 38 times yesterday, during the first day of the United Nations General Assembly.

We Are Digital Diplomacy
Digital Diplomacy
Published in
4 min readSep 21, 2022

While South Korea President Yoon Suk Yeol and Philippines President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos mentioned technology the most in their speeches — eight times and seven times respectively — the first address, that of UN Secretary-General António Guterres, was the one that set the stage and listed the many challenges the international community is facing in the digital age.

“In just the time since I became Secretary-General, a tool has been developed to edit genes,” the UN Chief said in his speech. “Neurotechnology — connecting technology with the human nervous system — has progressed from idea to proof of concept. Cryptocurrencies and other blockchain technologies are widespread. But across a host of new technologies, there is a forest of red flags.”

Guterres continued: “Social media platforms based on a business model that monetizes outrage, anger and negativity are causing untold damage to communities and societies. Hate speech, misinformation and abuse — targeted especially at women and vulnerable groups — are proliferating. Our data is being bought and sold to influence our behaviour — while spyware and surveillance are out of control — all, with no regard for privacy. Artificial intelligence is compromising the integrity of information systems, the media, and indeed democracy itself. Quantum computing could destroy cybersecurity and increase the risk of malfunctions to complex systems.”

The UN Secretary-General warned: “We don’t have the beginnings of a global architecture to deal with any of this.”

Among other world leaders to talk about technology in their speech:

Brazil President Jair Messias Bolsonaro

“We have upgraded public services by reducing costs and investing in science and technology. Nowadays, for instance, Brazil is the 7th most digitally advanced country in the world: 135 million people access 4,900 services provided by my administration. Brazil was a pioneer in the deployment of 5G in Latin America.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

“In the 21st century, when material and technological means have reached the highest level, it is impossible to explain why one fifth of the world’s population is still suffering from hunger and poverty.”

South Korea President Yoon Suk Yeol

“Countries at the forefront of digital innovation must offer broader assistance for digital education, technology transfer and investment while the UN must redouble its efforts to mobilize support to that end.”

Switzerland President Ignazio Cassis

“La Suisse est fière d’avoir créé dans cet esprit la Fondation GESDAs, le Geneva Science Diplomacy Anticipator. GESDA a pour but d’anticiper les défis posés par les nouvelles technologiques, de manière à en maximiser les bénéfices et en minimiser les risques pour l’homme, et à garantir un avenir durable sur notre planète.”

Slovakia President Zuzana Čaputová

“And the spirit of shared global commons that the UN embodies is under attack from extremists, their voice multiplied by new technologies. Half measures are not enough to cope with these challenges. We have tried that before. It is time for action and for clarity.”

France’s President Emmanuel Macron

“Les pays les plus riches doivent accélérer leurs programmes de neutralité carbone, mais aussi faire l’effort de sobriété et partager les technologies vertes.”

“C’est pourquoi la solidarité financière, la solidarité technologique des plus riches doit être renforcée sur le plan climatique à l’égard des pays les plus pauvres.”

Philippines President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos

“The development of advanced technologies is rapidly transforming human life and experience. We still barely understand how these transformations are unfolding and where they are leading. The imminent diffusion of these emerging technologies could solve many of our old problems, but they could also disrupt our political and social orders. Our governance structures must keep up.”

“Humankind is pushing back its horizons, both in the digital world and out in our physical universe. Access to these domains is an inalienable right of all nations, as are peaceful uses of all existing and emerging technologies.”

Argentina President Alberto Fernández

En la era digital en que vivimos, consideramos que es prioritario universalizar el acceso a las Tecnologías de la Información y la Comunicación y promover acciones que reduzcan las brechas de desigualdad que hoy se ven.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz

“After the technological revolution of the internet and the digital transformation, which have made us more interconnected than ever before, we are now facing a new fragmentation of the world.”

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi

“We want to develop green technologies together, to put Africa squarely at the centre of the green transition.”



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