Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR-19)

28 Aug 2019

Port Vila, Vanuatu

Event report

The Global Symposium for Regulators is a global multistakeholder platform organised by the Information Telecommunication Union (ITU) to discourse persistent regulatory issues, share experiences and knowledge, and collaborate on major issues facing the information and communications technology (ICT) sector. GSR-19 tackled the different means to bring affordable, safe, secure, and trusted online access to people everywhere. The sessions covered a wide range of topics including digital strategies and policies, infrastructure regulation, innovative investment and financing mechanisms, trust and confidence in a data driven economy, the need for spectrum, preparing for 5G, and the changing consumer role.

GSR-19 adopted Best Practice Guidelines on fast-forwarding digital connectivity for all. The guidelines underscore the need for an actionable, collaborative, and innovative outcome-based approach to regulation in order to unleash the potential of digital technologies and achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs). They further call upon the regulators and all stakeholders to be open to new regulatory tools and solutions and to act immediately. To this aim, the guidelines provide three innovative approaches for achieving inclusive digital infrastructure and services that include:

1.      Core design principles for collaborative regulation − to help respond to new technology paradigms and business models

2.      Benchmarks for regulatory excellence and market performance − grounding regulatory decisions in robust, multifaceted, and thoughtfully interpreted evidence can prove instrumental in generating positive market dynamics in the short and long term

3.      Regulatory tools and approaches at hand for enabling digital experimentation − to contribute towards improving digital market outcomes, countries need to leap forward to the next level of collaborative regulation with a new attitude and a new toolbox

According to Ms Doreen Bogdan-Martin (Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau), ‘Looking back over nearly 20 years of GSR, the role of the ICT regulator has never been more important. ICTs are at the heart of efforts to attain the 17 UN SDGs, and accessible, affordable ICT infrastructure is the pre-condition of every nation’s ongoing socio-economic development. Based on the contributions of regulators from all regions, and adopted by consensus, the new guidelines will light the way towards achieving inclusive digital connectivity globally.

During the event, the 10th Private Sector Chief Regulatory Officers Meeting was convened to tackle issues related to the industry regulations. It looked at how inclusivity can be achieved commercially in a sustainable way, and how the right balance between regulation, public sector involvement, and competitive market forces could be reached. The outcome document of the meeting can be found on the ITU website.

Additionally, during the event, the UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development held a session on ‘Getting the Next 3.7 Billion Online’ on 10 July 2019 to look at the role of collaboration in getting the offline population online, including the need for inclusive people-centred approaches and innovative investment models for affordable and secure connectivity. The session further addressed the partnerships and public-private co-operation mechanisms required to meet the SDGs by using ICTs.