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					GKP Event on the Future, Third Global Knowledge Conference Opening Address by Walter Fust

Yang Amat Berhormat Dato' Sri Najib Tun Razak, Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia,

Honourable Ministers and Your Excellencies,

Dear Fellow Members of Global Knowledge Partnership,

Friends from the Media,

Distinguished Guests,

Welcome to Kuala Lumpur and welcome to the GKP Event on the Future, the Third Global Knowledge Conference.

Let me begin by expressing my deep appreciation and gratitude to the honorable Prime Minister for taking time out of his busy schedule and for agreeing to be with us this morning to launch our GK3 conference themed ‘Emerging People, Emerging Markets, Emerging Technologies’.

This is the second time that Malaysia has been selected to play host to a Global Knowledge Conference. GK2 was held here in Kuala Lumpur in the year 2000.

Let me also use this opportunity to congratulate Malaysia on its 50 years of independence. 2007 is a year of celebration for Global Knowledge Partnership too, as we are celebrating our 10th anniversary.

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I’d like to make special mention of the fact that GKP has based the headquarters for its Global Secretariat here in Malaysia since 2001, which makes GKP the only Global Action Network to be headquartered in a developing or middle income country

Discussion about the Future is high on world agenda currently. The UN Climate Change conference in Bali is entering the critical final phase, while we are opening the GKP Event on the Future in Kuala Lumpur. Is there a link between these two conferences? The discussions in Bali are about our common future. During the next three days we shall focus on the Future from the perspective of innovation and in the context of the interplay between technologies, people and markets. Both innovations and technologies are powerful tools that will be urgently required to cope with the consequences of climate change as well as to contribute to solutions for reducing the causes.

GKP has always believed that development is not a one-way North to South process. Development takes place simultaneously at many levels and across many dimensions. We believe that sustainable and equitable development can only be achieved through the sharing of knowledge and the building of partnerships across sectors.

The experience of developing countries in using ICT for development can actually benefit developed countries, particularly in addressing the challenge of social-economic inclusion. Social-economic inclusion is a problem that is shared across nations today, regardless of economic status. We are pleased that so many countries, including Malaysia, are giving their full support to achieving our vision: A world of equal opportunities for all people to have access to and use knowledge and information to improve their lives.

ICT are both strategic and practical tools for addressing the challenges of development and inclusion. They are key to access and empowerment, and they act as conduits for information and knowledge.

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The framework that we need to address inclusion in the context of an Information Society has not changed in the past 7 years. It involves connecting people, giving them access to information, and to affordable communication tools. It involves empowering them by building their human potential and capacity, which entails expanding access to education and skills development. It also involves the support of the right set of policies and a conducive legal and regulatory framework. This framework is still relevant today and the challenge of inclusion is still at large.

GK3 serves as a platform to discuss the opportunities and challenges related to Emerging People, Emerging Markets and Emerging Technologies as we work towards a world of equal opportunities.

Ladies and Gentlemen, This brings me to the very heart of this conference, to its raison d’etre. GK3 is a unique gathering of global visionaries, innovators, practitioners and policy makers, who come together to share knowledge and build partnerships. It is unique because it is a platform created by and for stakeholders from every sector – private companies, governments, international institutions and civil society groups, who are GKP members and partners.

Over the next three days we will be able to witness how the many great ideas and experiences, as well as the commitment to our joint vision have been put into practice by our members around the world.

We look forward to seeing GK3 become a catalyst for more knowledge sharing and more collaborations - an incubator for solutions to the many challenges we all face in our quest towards equitable and sustainable development.

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Our ‘Event on the Future’ will explore the development and human dimension of ICT, one of the most potent forces shaping the 21st century. Broadband telecommunications infrastructure, for example, is increasingly seen as having an importance in the 21st century that will parallel that of electricity in the 20th and railroads in the 19th. On a positive note, the digital divide is beginning to show indications of narrowing. However, millions of people still live without any access to ICT – be it phones, radio or the Internet. The progress on digital inclusion is vital as it will help speed up inclusion in all other areas, social, economic and political.

The emerging Information Society is defined as a society and economy that makes the best possible use of ICT. These technologies have implications for all aspects of society and economy. They have changed the way we do business, how we learn and how we spend our leisure time. And technological innovation will continue to change our life and work. This is a challenge for Governments, as laws need to be updated, people need to be educated and businesses need to learn to adjust and operate in a more connected world.

The key change ICT brings to society is that it allows us to make new connections – connections which challenge traditional assumptions about what is possible, and when it is possible. The digital divide needs to be closed and development towards an Information society needs to be enabled everywhere, in order to ensure that all people can participate in and benefit from the opportunities of an increasingly networked global economy.

We are witnessing the emergence of people, markets and technologies that transcend geographies, converge and intertwine and, most importantly, will alter and shape the future. GK3 will take a close look at these three forces of change and discuss solutions for the many challenges we need to tackle.

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We have to ensure the right fundamentals – such as energy supply - are put in place. We need to educate people about the use and benefits of ICT and focus on applications that are most relevant with visible benefits – such as daily forecasts of ocean conditions brought to a remote fishermen’s village through community radio, to name but one example.

The unprecedented speed of technology development comes with its own challenges. Legal and regulatory understanding of it is usually lagging behind, as is our understanding of its impact on society. The time it takes to develop the latest technology and take it to market is getting shorter and shorter, but it still takes a long time for technology to become affordable for widespread rollout and adoption.

While looking for price reduction and developing low-cost solutions, we need to give equal attention to creating income earning opportunities and therefore increase people’s ability to pay for the use of ICT. We strongly believe that Social Enterprises have an important role to play in this context as they are creating both revenue opportunities and social Return on Investment thus helping to narrow the gap from both ends.

We do recognise economics as primary driver of change. However, it is our role to ensure that social and ecological bottom lines are given equal importance.

Another challenge is to coordinate efforts for maximum benefit. Such coordination needs to happen at multiple levels, with multiple stakeholders and as a concerted cross-sectoral approach.

We need to look at coordinated infrastructural development such ICT, Power and Transportation infrastructure and also include Education, Health, Rural Development, Entrepreneurship and Poverty Reduction in our coordination efforts to reach the disadvantaged.

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A particular challenge lies in cross-agency and cross-sectoral coordination at the national level. It will take foresight and the willingness to share knowledge and to work with each other in partnership, to achieve optimum levels of coordination to further development.

The concept of multi-stakeholder partnerships is the model we strongly promote as the most suitable to tackle the complex and multi-layered tasks ahead.

Therefore, we need to take measures and find solutions that enable more of such partnerships n rolling out national programmes oriented towards socioeconomic inclusion and progress. Such measures include financing solutions, incentivizing the private sector to become more involved through corporate social responsibility initiatives and by illustrating the benefits of a longer term engagement in developing markets, and not pursue the so called Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid’ at the expense of the Poor.

We have created a format for GK3 which aims to ensure maximum knowledge sharing, interaction, inspiration, reflection, learning and debate on tangible innovations and solutions.

I can promise you that GK3 will be unlike any other conference you have attended and I am very excited about the many innovative elements we bring to you at this event as mentioned by Rinalia earlier.

I am pleased to see that GK3 has gathered various communities of interest and practice from around the world for knowledge-sharing, problem solving, and solutions oriented partnership building.

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GKP intends to use GK3 as the platform to identify and develop more special initiatives that we believe have worldwide adoption value in improving lives and that serve as solutions to development challenges. Along these lines, I am pleased to announce that initiatives that have been selected as GKP’s Global Partnership Projects are Telecenter.Org, Youth Social Enterprise Initiative (YSEI) and iMALLS. Each initiative involves GKP members and I invite you to learn more about them over the next 3 days.

GKP also wishes to form more partnerships with key organisations through Memorandums of Understanding, to expand our knowledge sharing and partnership building activities. The UN Global Alliance for ICT and Development is one such GKP MoU Partner, and we have just agreed to strengthen our partnership through a number of identified channels. Other MoU Partners include the International Task Force on Women & ICT, and Development Gateway Foundation and the Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development. We will also be entering into new MoUs at GK3 starting with Maaya – the World Network for Linguistic Diversity, and I am confident that GK3 will create and nurture a fertile ground for building more key global partnership initiatives.

GK3 is an excellent opportunity for GKP to reach out to new stakeholders and under-represented regions and build on our rich and collective knowledge to develop new partnerships and influence the international ICT4D policy agenda.

With GK3 we have demonstrated once more that we can attract key ICT4D and K4D players from all sectors and all regions of the world. Leveraging on outcomes of GK3, we want to build more partnerships and we hope to be able to announce newly formed partnerships over the next three days.

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If you form a partnership or secure other meaningful connections during GK3, please share the news with us so that we can announce it to the participants.

At this stage, let me thank all our partners and sponsors who contributed to making this conference possible.

I thank all of you for being here and for contributing your knowledge.

As you know, knowledge has a unique characteristic: It grows when you share it. And multi-stakeholder partnerships create greater impact.

Or, to put in another way: when it comes to knowledge and partnerships ‘1 + 1 actually equals to 3’.

In this spirit, I wish all of you a fruitful and inspiring exchange over the next three days.

It is important to think the future, but it is even more important to make it. We have accumulated a tremendous wealth of knowledge. That should not only be used for pleasing ourselves but for a better future for mankind. For that we have to move from the notion of HOMO SAPIENS to become HOMO HUMANUS. Only then will we be able to make the future livable for the emerging generations.

Thank you!

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