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Serret opens the headquarters of the Giga initiative in Barcelona, which will receive €6.5 million from the Catalan Government to connect the world's schools to the Internet

event_note Press Release

Serret opens the headquarters of the Giga initiative in Barcelona, which will receive €6.5 million from the Catalan Government to connect the world's schools to the Internet

  1. This UNICEF and ITU flagship project to end the digital divide in schools around the world by 2030 will be housed in the Ca l’Alier technology centre in Barcelona’s Poblenou district

The Minister for Foreign Action and European Union, Meritxell Serret i Aleu, took part in the opening of the Barcelona headquarters of the Giga initiative, a flagship project by UNICEF and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to connect all the world’s schools to the Internet and put an end to the digital divide by 2030. The project has set up shop in the Ca l’Alier technology centre in Poblenou, where Serret described the Giga project as “ambitious and essential for generating more opportunities for the world’s children”“We have to put our heart and soul into it,” she said.

The process to establish and fund the Giga project in Barcelona was made possible thanks to a collaboration agreement between the Government of Catalonia, the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, and Barcelona City Council. Specifically, the Government of Catalonia will contribute up to 6.5 million euros to the project (€3.2 million in 2023 and the rest in 2024).

Serret also told the media afterwards that the Catalan Government is “fully involved” in the Giga project so that, “through union and commitment with the multilateral system and the agencies of the United Nations, we can contribute to resolving major global challenges, in this case, bringing the Internet to all the world’s schools”. “And thisis possible for us to do from here, in Barcelona, in Catalonia, because we have one of the most powerful technological ecosystems in southern Europe”, she said.

Also speaking at the event were Giga’s co-founder and co-lead, Alex Wong (from ITU), and Naroa Zurutuza (from UNICEF), respectively, who explained how they map the connectivity status of schools around the world. They said that they will connect 2.1 million schools in 140 countries to the Internet, benefiting500 million students.

Finally, two round tables were organised to discuss the use of technology to transform education and contribute to social progress.

The event was also attended by the Director General for Foreign Action, Anna Dotor; the Director General for Development Cooperation, Yoya Alcoceba; the Director General for Digital Society, Liliana Arroyo, and the director of the Catalan Agency for Development Cooperation, Vicenç Margalef.

The Catalan Government’s commitment to multilateralism

To overcome major global challenges, such as the climate emergency, migration and the defence of human rights, the Catalan Government is working to coordinate its foreign action with the rest of the global stakeholders and to make contributions to multilateral organisations. Thus, each year, the Catalan Government contributes more than 12 million euros to UN agencies.

The Executive defends the key role of governments closer to citizens in global action and is therefore defining a multilateral strategy that should give coherence to the multilateral action of the Catalan Government as a whole, make it possible to draw more international organisations’ headquarters to Catalonia and help the United Nations System to impact citizens closer to home.

The Giga project consolidates Catalonia as a benchmark for the technology sector in southern Europe

The joint application from the Government of Catalonia, the Spanish Government and Barcelona City Council to host the Giga project in Barcelona was accepted by UNICEF and ITU in June 2022. Thanks to the contribution of the three administrations, the project has a total budget of 17.5 million euros for the period 2022-2024.

Technological investments represent 43% of the foreign investment projects that have been carried out in Catalonia in the last five years, and Catalonia is the second European region in project attraction, more than 6% of the total, behind only Ireland. The establishment of Giga in Barcelona therefore consolidates Catalonia as a benchmark for the technology sector in southern Europe and allows the potential of the Catalan digital and technological ecosystem to be placed at the service of the great global challenge of connecting all the world’s schools to the Internet.