By Ellen Wulfhorst
UNITED NATIONS (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and a host of celebrities kicked off a campaign on Saturday to make Internet access universal, saying this was critical to fulfilling the United Nations' newly adopted agenda to combat global ills.
Calling for efforts to ensure Internet access for everyone globally by 2020, Zuckerberg said Internet connections are a dynamic tool for sharing knowledge, creating opportunities, lifting communities out of poverty and promoting peace.
"A 'like' or a post won't stop a tank or a bullet, but when people are connected, we have a chance to build a common global community with a shared understanding," Zuckerberg told at a private luncheon with business leaders at the United Nations.
"That's a powerful force."
The 193 U.N. member nations on Friday formally adopted a sweeping set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, that aim to end poverty and combat inequality and climate change over the next 15 years and call for shared peace and prosperity.
The objectives, described as "a to-do list for people and planet" by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, are intended as a roadmap to be implemented by government and the private sector.
The connectivity campaign calls on governments, businesses and innovators to bring the Internet to the some 4 billion people who now do not have access, organizers said.
Signing on to the connectivity campaign were U2 star Bono, co-founder of One, a group that fights extreme poverty; actress Charlize Theron, founder of Africa Outreach Project; philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates; British entrepreneur Richard Branson; Huffington Post editor Arianna Huffington; Colombian singer Shakira, actor and activist George Takei and Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales.
(Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit www.trust.org)