Delegate: Mr. De Groot
56. Mr. De Groot (Netherlands), speaking as the youth representative selected by the Dutch Youth Council for International Affairs, said that he would like to talk about how the Internet could contribute to social development and youth empowerment. Young people made up half of the on-line community, though they accounted for less than a quarter of the world’s population, because they were immersed in a process of learning and personal development. The Internet provided an opportunity for young people to invent and execute new projects, to form a non-governmental organization, for instance, or start up a small enterprise. An example of such a project was the UNderDOG project set up by the Council, which enabled youth to discuss United Nations issues on-line.
57. Despite the opportunities it offered, the Internet had at least two shortcomings that demanded urgent attention. The first involved the degree of access and related to the information gap between the developed and developing countries. The second involved quality of access and related to the difficulty of finding the information desired in the Internet “cybersprawl”, which was suggestive of a poorly planned metropolis. Young people themselves bore primary responsibility for addressing the problem of cybersprawl, but it was the duty of local authorities, Governments and the international community to enable young people to realize their potential for change.
58. The Internet should not be developed by market forces alone. The Youth Unit of the United Nations Secretariat, the United Nations Children’ s Fund (UNICEF) and UNESCO should cooperate with youth organizations in taking action. First, young people should be trained, formally and informally, to handle digital information properly. Second, the problem of language should be addressed; most Internet information was in English, and translation initiatives were needed to make it available in [*8*] other languages. In those efforts, young people should be involved not only as objects but also as subjects of actions that affected them. For example, the World Youth Forum of the United Nations System and its outcome should be taken more seriously. Its proceedings could be improved by a training programme for non-governmental youth organizations, with the help of the Youth Unit, on using the Internet to maximize their efforts.
UN Doc.: A/C.3/54/SR.3