As current chair of the United Nations Group on the Information Society (UNGIS), UNCTAD has welcomed the adoption of the high-level outcome document by a General Assembly High-Level Meeting in New York on 15–16 December to review the implementation of outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in the context of the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
"To make the Information Society more development-oriented, we must address the challenges of content and capabilities as well as connectivity, and ensure that information and communications technologies (ICTs) are fully harnessed in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)," Torbjörn Fredriksson, Chief of UNCTAD's ICT Analysis Section, said in a statement on behalf of the UNCTAD Secretary-General. "These goals are rightly emphasized in the outcome document from this High-Level Meeting. UNCTAD looks forward to working with our colleagues within UNGIS and other partners to support the implementation of WSIS outcomes and the SDGs."
Mr. Fredriksson added: "The past decade has demonstrated the value of cooperation and dialogue between governments, international organizations, the private sector, the technical community and civil society.
The ability of diverse stakeholders to work together in the common interest of a people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society has been inspiring. UNCTAD shares the desire and determination to build on that success."
The WSIS+10 Review Meeting gave representatives from governments, civil society, the private sector, academic and technical communities and intergovernmental bodies an opportunity to discuss, among other topics, bridging digital divides, financial mechanisms, human rights in the Information Society, building confidence and security in the use of ICTs, Internet governance, and WSIS follow-up in the future.
Heads of UN system entities reaffirmed their commitment to the development dimension of technological advancement in a joint statement to the meeting.
"We will work to advance freedom of expression, cultural diversity and human rights online through efforts at the country, regional and global levels. We will strengthen coherence across the United Nations system and enhance the role of UNGIS," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the meeting.
The meeting drew on the work of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD), for which UNCTAD serves as the secretariat, including the comprehensive report Implementing WSIS Outcomes – A Ten-Year Review, which was discussed at the 18th meeting of the CSTD in Geneva in May 2015.
The General Assembly called on the CSTD to take into account the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in its future work on WSIS. It also invited the main UN platform on sustainable development, the High-Level Political Forum, to consider the annual reports of the CSTD.
A number of side events focused on the use of ICTs in specific areas such as using ICTs for policy making, closing the gender gap, raising Africa’s digital presence, and showcasing best practices.
A side-event held by the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development, of which UNCTAD is a founding member, underscored importance of evaluating progress with regard to the WSIS targets and existing ICT-related policies. The partnership has identified a set of relevant and existing ICT indicators that can help monitor the SDGs.
The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), held in two phases Geneva in 2003 and Tunis in 2005, was the first opportunity for the international community to assess the potential of ICTs for achieving internationally-agreed development goals and considered the new challenges that the presented. The overarching goal of the WSIS is to build “a people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society” that would enhance the opportunities and quality of life for people worldwide and facilitate sustainable development.
The Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development includes the International Telecommunication Union, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Institute for Statistics, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, The World Bank, the United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, Eurostat, the United Nations Environment Programme Secretariat of the Basel Convention, and the International Labour Organization, as well as UNCTAD.