Two prominent examples of Israeli ICT innovations are the navigation application Waze, and the USB flash drive. The first transformed how we get from place to place, and the second transformed how we store and save information.
Mr. Chairman, distinguished colleagues,
In the last ten years, we have witnessed a remarkable evolution and diffusion of Information and Communications Technology (ICT). Unforeseen even a decade ago, ICT has penetrated nearly all corners of the globe and every facet of our daily lives. It has revolutionized how we interact, how we connect, how we travel, and how we conduct business. It has even challenged our idea of what a business is.
Unlike traditional finite resources which run the risk of being depleted, the knowledge fueling ICT is potentially limitless. It is only constrained by the limits of human imagination and creativity. The greatest advantage of ICT is its potential to democratize knowledge. Knowledge is no longer geographically limited; it can be shared instantly with people on the other side of the globe, enabling fruitful collaboration and transformational developments.
Within the last decade, we have witnessed tremendous progress on the march towards universal connectivity. As of this year, over 3 billion people have some form of access to the internet. However, far too many people are being left behind in this technological revolution. In the world we live in now, and in the future to come, lack of access to the internet and to communication technologies means increased isolation, and ensures ever greater poverty.
We must reaffirm our commitment to connecting the unconnected. Addressing the digital divide is of the utmost importance in order to assure that we meet the Sustainable Development Goals and to ensure that no one is left behind. Reaching these goals will require the successful development, utilization and application of ICT.
The progress that we have witnessed in the last decade is due to the cooperation between governments and the private sector, and to an environment conducive to investment in ICTs. This has allowed for the proliferation of new technologies into society and the rapid expansion of access to the public. Therefore, in order to maintain the course that we are on, and indeed to connect those left behind, it will require the collective effort of all sectors of society: government, private enterprise, NGOs and international institutions alike; a truly global and collaborative effort.
Israel knows first-hand how important a role ICT can play on the path towards development. As many of you may already know, Israel does not have an abundance of natural resources, but it is rich in entrepreneurial determination and blessed with a people which has a creative spirit. In the 67 short years since its establishment, through hard work, directed investment, and sheer determination, Israel has been transformed from a land of swamps and sand into a Start-Up Nation. Two prominent examples of Israeli ICT innovations are the navigation application Waze, and the USB flash drive. The first transformed how we get from place to place, and the second transformed how we store and save information.
As the saying goes, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. Living in a county whose surface is over 50% desert, Israelis knew from the beginning that if they were going to flourish, they would have to be creative. Israel has a well-earned reputation for technological innovation that has helped the developing world. In the 1960s, Israel developed a revolutionary system of drip irrigation that has fundamentally altered the way the world produces agriculture by significantly reducing the amount of water needed to raise crops.
Today, Israeli ICT innovation is still helping to transform the developing world. For example, a new Israeli company called Takadu provides monitoring software to leading water utilities worldwide offering real-time detection and control over a network. This will not only save farmers’ time, money and precious water, but free up the opportunity costs of expanding farms and freeing up labour. The domino effect will reverberate around the globe as smallholder farms currently produce 70 per cent of the world’s food supply.
This is just one example of how ‘the internet of things’ – devices communicating with each other – will come to shape the world in the years to come. This is the next step in the ICT revolution, and Israel is ready to play a leading role and share its experience.
Just as the spread of ICT in society over the past 10 years had been unforeseen, the challenges of utilizing ICT to achieve the SDGs still lie ahead us. However, if we stand together, we can utilize the promise of ICT for a better future for all.