Harnessing Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Remarks by the UN Deputy Secretary-General at the Opening of the ECOSOC Special Meeting

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

I thank Ambassador Narváez, President of the Economic and Social Council, for inviting me to part of this important event.

Our world is grappling with complex challenges — from conflict and climate change to chronic poverty and rising inequalities.

We all know that the 2030 Agenda towards a more equitable, resilient and sustainable future is woefully off track.

Today’s topic on how to harness Artificial Intelligence for SDGs cannot be timelier. Applied safely, it can accelerate progress towards the SDGs, enhance decision-making, and drive innovation. It can and it must.

This is not a future dream but today’s reality.

AI is already optimizing energy use, improving medical diagnostics, monitoring biodiversity, expanding educational opportunities – and so much more.

Many of you are seeing the benefits of AI across all sectors in your countries.

Yet these technologies also pose grave risks. They can displace jobs, exploit gaps in global governance, and exacerbate bias, discrimination, and misinformation. And they can do so on a monumental scale.

Excellencies,

Our task is to harness this powerful technology to accelerate sustainable development, while mitigating its harms.

This means accountability for those who create AI systems and for those that use them. The power, speed, and impact of AI is truly global, and accountability must be part of the package.

To do this, we must ensure that AI is effectively governed, that it is equitable, accessible, and ethical.

First, on equity. It is essential that we have an equitable access to AI tools, applications and infrastructure – including quality data and computational resources.

Equity also requires capacity development and technology transfer. We cannot allow all the benefits and opportunities of AI to be concentrated in the hands of

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