We share our planet with many other species but our species has been the most proactive in shaping and changing the planet and its Eco system. We have developed technologies that impact both positively and negatively on lives around the globe. Our harnessing of technologies for solutions to major issues ranging from energy supply to disease eradication has been matched by our ability to utilise technologies for war and destruction, and for the continuing exploitation of limited natural resources.
What defines our humanity however is our desire to better the world we live in, and a genuine shared human belief that inequality must be tackled and the causes of poverty must be addressed. Technology and the imagination that defines human intelligence can help.
Poverty takes many forms and affects many people in different ways. Poverty is hunger, poverty is lack of shelter, poverty is being sick and not having access to a doctor, poverty is not having access to school, poverty is the remembered moment of the lost opportunity that you could not afford to grasp, poverty is losing a child to illness because of lack of clean water, poverty is a feeling of powerlessness, of not having a voice. Poverty has many Parents, always economic, often educational, sometimes geographical or age or disability. What all forms of poverty however have in common is lack of equity, lack of equal access to opportunity and resources.
And poverty is not just the burden of the poor...it is all our burden because it drags us down, it weakens economies, depresses trade, fuels suspicion, feeds crime and above all slows the heartbeat of our common humanity.
Shortly over 400 people from all corners of the globe will gather in Dublin to agree on how technology can help the world address the causes and the effects of poverty. It is appropriate that Ireland is the venue for we stand at a cross roads of decision created by our boom to bust recent experience. We can make choices to look beyond our needs and our own local "troubles". We can help the world make choices as to how technology is harnessed and used to shape the future of the planet and humanity. Our venue for this gathering is the RDS the home of the Royal Dublin Society. This venue was born out of the imagination of leaders who saw the need to harness science and the technology of the day to improve the lives of people caught in the trap of poverty.
In 1731 fourteen Irishmen came together in Dublin united by a common aim - to improve the poor economic condition of the country by promoting agriculture, arts, industry and science in Ireland. This objective, they believed could be achieved by the dissemination of knowledge and new ideas. From such small beginnings, the Society developed into an invaluable resource from which grew major national institutions. Over the course of three centuries the RDS has pursued, with vigour, its mission to encourage the development of agriculture, arts, science, and industry throughout the country by providing targeted sectoral programmes. Its mission remains as relevant today as it was in 1731.
And being in the RDS this February helps us continue the mission of it founders. Being at the 8th World Forum of Cities against poverty will give each of us an opportunity to launch a new mission and movement to address the global inequality and poverty that diminishes our common humanity.
Office of Economy & International Relations
Dublin City Council