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Ericsson uses ocean race to boost Millennium Development goals


Ericsson will raise awareness of the Millennium Development Goals in the telecommunications industry in collaboration with Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and previously United Nations high commissioner for human rights, and Jeffrey Sachs, sirector of The Earth Institute at Columbia University and special advisor to the UN secretary-general.

During the Volvo Ocean Race, the premier around-the-world sailing competition, Ericsson and these global leaders will engage with customers and other stakeholders, to increase awareness of the key role that the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector can play in enabling human rights, ending global poverty and contributing to a carbon-lean economy.
The eighth Millennium Development Goal (MDG) calls for a global partnership for development, and the ICT) sector is the only business sector that is highlighted as critical to achieving the Goals. At the United Nations' High Level Event on the MDGs, on September 25, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon underscored the importance of private sector commitment to help achieve the Goals. At the same event, Ericsson's CEO, Carl-Henric Svanberg addressed the role of the private sector in achievement of the MDGs, and the key role mobile technology has to play.
Ericsson will use its global position as the leading telecommunications vendor to catalyze the telecom sector and harness the technology and expertise of the industry to find tangible solutions to halve global extreme poverty. By bringing together public and private partners around the Volvo Ocean Race, Ericsson is taking another step in its ongoing commitment to help achieve the MDGs by 2015.
"We are in a unique position to involve our customers in this call to action," says Carl-Henric Svanberg, president and CEO of Ericsson. "We are honored to have Mary Robinson and Jeffrey Sachs associated with our initiative. By raising awareness of human rights and MDGs and how the ICT sector can help enable and achieve them, we are making our around-the-world journey a race with a message.
"The MDGs are among the most compelling global issues of our time, and with our presence in 170 countries, we know that our sector can make a real difference and achieve concrete results," Svanberg says.
Robinson, currently president of Realizing Rights – The Ethical Globalization Initiative and a member of The Elders, inspired by the leadership of Nelson Mandela, will be the godmother of one of Ericsson's two race boats, symbolising the importance of the human rights message throughout the race.
She says: "Never before has the private sector had such influence and therefore so much opportunity to contribute to human rights which are enshrined in the Millennium Declaration and key to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.Over the past ten years I have seen more and more business leaders make the connection between human rights and the success of their companies, and we recognize Ericsson's leadership in this area."
Sachs comments: "Mobile phones, wireless internet and Ericsson's other technologies are being used in innovative new ways in sectors such as health education, and business development, in rural impoverished places that would otherwise be cut off from the rest of the world. The global network that Ericsson and its partners have built is a leading example of sustainable development in practice because of the short-term gains and long-terms opportunities it is providing to communities."
Earlier this year UK prime minister Gordon Brown called upon the private sector to contribute to the efforts made by governments and NGOs to form public-private partnerships to achieve the MDGs. Ericsson has committed to the Business Call to Action and will increase efforts following the UN High Level Event on the MDGs by using the race as one way to raise awareness of the importance of the Goals.
Today there are more than 3.7-billion mobile subscriptions around the world, within the next five years the figure is projected to almost double, with 90% of new growth coming from high-growth economies where rural communities have little established infrastructure.
Together with the Earth Institute, Ericsson is bringing voice and internet communication to over half a million people in the Millennium Villages, a novel development initiative operating in 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The company recently announced the launch of a mobile Innovation Center in Africa to develop applications related to health, education, agriculture, business development, finance, government services and the overall improvement of communication capabilities, with a special focus on the rural poor.  Ericsson also supports the Every Human Has Rights campaign of the Elders, which is marking the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights during 2008.