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ITU INTERVIEW: H.E Luis Guillermo Solís, President of Costa Rica

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Interview with H.E Luis Guillermo Solís, President of Costa Rica and ITU Patron for Youth and ICT.

Geneva, 8 June 2015 – President Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera of Costa Rica was inaugurated today as ITU Patron for Youth and ICT at a special ceremony in Geneva.

This builds on the BYND2015 Youth Summit organized by ITU in San José, Costa Rica in 2013 where young participants from around the world called on governments to provide more flexible, dynamic and open means of governance to reach more people more easily than presently possible. They emphasized that the key to a successful development paradigm will be innovation and asked for education systems that equip students with not just theoretical knowledge, but with a practical mix of marketable, innovative and relevant skills needed to compete in the global digital economy.

Youth has become a priority issue for Member States within the UN system. Almost half the world’s population is under age 25. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates some 72-73 million young people (defined as those younger than age 25) are out of work, accounting for 40 per cent of total global unemployment.

The ICT sector offers many opportunities for young people worldwide. According to ITU data, 45 per cent of Internet users around the world are under age 25.

Mainstream economic sectors from agriculture to trade and healthcare are witnessing an explosion of new ICT-enabled applications, raising the bar in terms of minimum ICT skills needed to perform tasks as well as generating new opportunities for entrepreneurs to develop ICT products and services. Digital trade, crowdsourcing, microwork, app development, and others owe their existence to global Internet expansion that increasingly connects people around the world while driving socio-economic growth and development.

“There is no doubt that youth are the earliest adopters and most intensive users of ICT devices and applications,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “Youth are leading, not in terms of usage, but also as developers, helping build the next generation of services and applications, which will have profound implications for socio-economic development.”

Mr Zhao added that President Solís, in his role as ITU Patron for Youth and ICT, would be a source of inspiration for young people around the world as well as for governments, the private sector, academia, civil society and the UN in recognizing, encouraging and supporting the accelerated use of ICTs for positive social change. “Information and communication technologies are key tools to empower young people,” Mr Zhao said.

President Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera, historian and former diplomat, was elected President of Costa Rica in 2014. President Solís has published numerous essays and books about national and international affairs. He has been published by Foreign Affairs Latinoamérica, Frontera Norte, Espacios and Global Governance. His writing has focused on civil society, international relations, and trade.

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