Mark Zuckerberg Announces Facebook Partnership With UN To Bring Internet Access To Refugees And The Entire World By 2020

Mark Zuckerberg has announced that Facebook is to set up a partnership with the U.N.’s Agency for Refugees to bring internet access to refugee camps around the world, reports Silicon Beat.

Speaking to the U.N. Private Sector Forum on Saturday, Zuckerberg affirmed his belief that increased connectivity could be key to helping refugees access and mobilize support from the aid community, as well as maintain contact with estranged families.

Zuckerberg also outlined Facebook’s intention to help the U.N. implement development goals, by designing quick and precise data analysis tools.

This partnership is part of a wider strategy to expand internet access across the globe as part of the U.N.’s Global Goals program. The Facebook CEO emphasized the vital role internet access can play in lifting people out of poverty, claiming that for every 10 people who gain access to the internet, one person is taken out of destitution.

Mark Zuckerberg on the big screen as he addresses the UN

Zuckerberg estimated that 140 million new jobs could be created by expanding internet access and hailed the cause of making universal global connectivity a reality as the fundamental challenge of our time

“The Internet is more than just a network of machines, it is the key driver of social and economic progress in our time. A like or a post won’t stop a tank or a bullet, but when people are connected, we have the chance to build a common global community with a shared understanding.”

Zuckerberg signed a “connectivity declaration” along with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Save the Children, TED, the United Nations Foundation, a number of nonprofit organizations and celebrities such as George Takei, Charlize Theron, and Ariana Huffington to recognize internet access as an enabler of human rights, and set a target of achieving universal internet access by 2020, reports USA Today.

Facebook acknowledged in 2014, a program that it had set up to invent new technology capable of providing affordable internet access for all.

The Connectivity Lab team, which includes some of the world’s leading experts in aerospace and communications technology from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and Ames Research Center, is developing satellites, drones, and lasers that can beam internet connections to remote locations, such as obscure villages in parts of the world that lack communications infrastructure.

Known as free-space optical communication (FSO), the technology uses light to transmit data through space with infrared laser beams.

[Images via Mark Zuckerberg/Facebook]