WSIS 2017 – Moderated high-level policy session 12

14 Jun 2017 10:00h - 11:00h

Event report

[Read more session reports from WSIS Forum 2017]

The moderator Mr Shernon Osepa (Regional Affairs Manager for Latin America & The Caribbean Bureau, Internet Society) started the session by outlining the focus of the discussion: ICT applications and services, digital economy and trade, and climate change.

Dr Cosmas Zavazava (Chief of Department, Projects & Knowledge Management, ITU) stressed that ICTs are central to climate change, particularly with the advent of major technologies like the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence. Zavazava further elaborated on the link between climate change and the success of the sustainable development goals (SDGs), noting that there is a link between the use of ICTs to mitigate the impact of climate change (i.e., on food security) and the successful implementation of the SDGs.

Ms Yolanda Martínez (Chief of Digital Government, Mexico) explained the key success factors for rapid uptake of digital services. These include strong digital identity policy, effective ICT applications and government services, a robust legal framework on digital signature, and strong cybersecurity policies. She alluded to ICTs as enablers of the SDGs, seeing that the digitisation of services provides opportunities for many people, especially in a country like Mexico where inequality is prevalent.

Mr Semuel Abrijani Pangerapan (Deputy Minister, Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, Indonesia) covered the digital transformation in Indonesia and explained how the government is working on two strands. The first is an infrastructure programme to connect all cities and districts by 2020. The second is a digital literacy programme to promote ICT usage among students, entrepreneurs, and small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Pangerapan further showcased some of the national policies that buttress digital transformation towards a digital economy, including economic policies and national privacy law.

Prof. Alfredo M. Ronchi (Secretary General, MEDICI Framework of Cooperation) highlighted safety, security, and disaster recovery as some of the relevant ICT sectors that are not sufficiently considered at WSIS. The qualitative and quantitative demands for safety and security have increased, calling for new approaches to enable the entire sector to achieve better results. Safety and security are playing key roles in different areas, including child abuse, homeland security and law enforcement, crimes, human and drugs trafficking, and safety and mobility at workplace. Ronchi further noted that technology is not enough to solve the problems and hence an interdisciplinary approach accompanied by a culture of safety are required.

Some of the challenges to adapt to climate change were pinpointing by Mr Syed Tarek (Founder, Earth Aid) including (1) recognising climate change as a serious problem, (2) building capacity to address the growing needs of data sharing among academic institutions, (3) using ICTs to reach out to people in rural communities, (4) strengthening the ties between top-down and bottom-up management, and (5) including climate change as a topic of discussion to have more information population.

Ms Nora Wolloch (Manager, World Summit Award (WSA)) elaborated on the contribution of the WSA to Action Line C7 of WSIS over the past ten years. It organised global contests on applications, services, and content to address the lack of quality local content and technology in local languages. Realising that most creative solutions were submitted by young social entrepreneurs and start-ups, the WSA encouraged them to link their solutions to the SDGs and connected them to learn from each other and share their technological solutions.

The importance of cybersecurity was explained by Mr Pavan Duggal (President, Cyber Law Asia) who mentioned that cybersecurity breaches have become part of our daily life. This necessitates cybersecurity law, a discipline that has been evolving to deal with the protection, preservation, and maintenance of the cyberspace. That said, we still lack an international cybersecurity law. Yet, countries have moved forward and developed their national laws on cybersecurity; bilateral arrangements between countries have been embraced to address cybersecurity.

Prof. Alison Gillwald (Executive Director, Research ICT Africa and Professor, University of Cape Town) reflected on the central policy challenges to bring Africa online. As ICT access and use increases, digital inequality is amplified on the continent since connectivity alone does not produce information equality. Even with the diffusion of ICT, the kind of Internet penetration rate required to get this critical mass associated with economic growth and positive multipliers due to affordability issues is lacking, she concluded.


by Noha Fathy