WSIS Forum 2020 highlights and key achievements to date

9 Sep 2020 12:00h - 13:00h

Event report

This workshop provided an opportunity for WSIS Forum 2020 session organisers to share the key highlights, outcomes, and ways forward for their workshop.

Mr Mohammed Al Khamis (Director of Smart Government National Program Telecommunications Regulatory Authority [TRA], United Arab Emirates [UAE]) reported that in the UAE, having multiple service providers on local, federal, and country levels has resulted in confusion among citizens and made it challenging to navigate through information. A trustworthy digital society is crucial when it comes to providing digital services. Key success factors of the digital ID ‘UAE PASS’ were nation-wide alignment and regulatory approval. The response from the private sector has been overwhelming.

1.1 billion people are without identification documents (ID). The session ‘Decentralised Identities (DIDs) in development projects’, concluded that electronic IDs are critical for (digital) inclusion. Due to major threats to privacy and data protection, decentralised IDs are prioritised over centralised IDs. Standards in place are important for interoperability.  Mr Jörn Erbguth (Head of Technology Insights, Geneva Macro Labs, Switzerland) stated that ‘Privacy by the application of decentralised technology should be an integral part of WSIS Forum 2021’.

Dr Salma Abbasi (Chairperson and CEO, eWorldwide Group) spoke about experiences from Pakistan and Algeria. In relation to the innovative ‘SMART Villages’ private sector partnerships, along with governments are vital. Smart village initiatives introduced in Pakistan and Nigeria aim to empower rural communities. They plan to develop a common platform to provide multiple  services to the community. Smart village pilot projects demonstrate how stakeholders can address multiple needs, such as access to food, mobile technology building resilience across the agriculture value chain from a farm to the table, access to emergency services supplies and data, etc.

For the WSIS Forum 2021, the session recommends ICT’s role to develop sustainable migrant communities, transformational impact and benefits from digital identity for all, quality education and knowledge for all, especially for vulnerable groups.

The session moderated by Mr Nino Letteriello (President, DAMA Italy) discussed data management education. A new framework for data management is being developed for people who are working with data for the first time. Session’s conclusions included: ‘Good’ culture is foundation for ‘good’ professionals; Culture starts from education and education is complex; awareness is needed to fight against inequalities and fear; Virtual is a part of reality.

The ICTs and older persons session discussed the importance of empowering seniors to be ‘e-included’, to enhance online communication in their daily lives. To empower elders means to give them online communication tools, especially to use one’s will in the context of social relations and decision-making, and fight against age discrimination.

Ms Monique Epstein (Director, Eseniors France) stated that with the use of ICT services, older people stay healthy, live independently, continue to participate in society, combat isolation, and stay active by doing (voluntary) work.

FUNDACIÓN CIBERVOLUNTARIOS’ is an ecosystem of collective intelligence and online collaborative tools to allow citizens and entities to generate concrete actions and initiatives to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda through social innovation processes. Ms Ester Maestro (European Project Coordinator, FUNDACIÓN CIBERVOLUNTARIOS, Spain) noted how specific online services empower women entrepreneurs and help them bridge the digital divide. Breaking down barriers through digital competencies creates opportunities for women and the development of their entrepreneurial projects.

Media and information literacy (MIL) is also important for women and young children. The session moderated by Ms Yuko Murayama (Vice President, IFIP) noted the importance of MIL expansion to support emotional communications art. Emotional communication helped out children in Nigeria. MIL also helps raise awareness in disaster situations. Murayama suggested including psychological and situations awareness aspects in the post 2030 Agenda. Suggestions for WSIS 2021 include ‘SDGs for next generation: from ICT towards Social Literacy’.

Putting efforts to establish digital agriculture and innovation hubs, and enhance innovation ecosystems and culture to empower ‘agripreneurs’ is especially important for youth and women. Ms Meng Zeng (Information Technology Officer, Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO]) highlighted digital empowerment and modernisation of China’s small farmers. She emphasised the positive aspects of a holistic approach in fostering an enabling ecosystem for food and agriculture.

The key outcomes and achievements of the ‘Accelerating the creation of value in e-business for developing countries’ are true regional inclusion for the first time thanks to the WSIS virtual platform (participants from all regions joined the discussions); boosting domestic e-commerce with the launch of ‘Correos de Costa Rica,’ a new marketplace platform for local small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs); and insights into a case study for rural assistance.

For the WSIS Forum 2021, Mr Paul Donohoe, (Manager, Digital Economy and Trade Programme Universal Postal Union [UPU]) suggested considering opportunities for displaced people, and looking into how ICTs and business can increase the value of and for their lives while being displaced’.

Governments and industry need to work together for the creation of security standards. Those standards should guarantee the minimum levels of cybersecurity. Mr Jianfeng Nan (Director of Cyber Security and user privacy protection affairs department, Huawei, China) suggested the following actions for the WSIS Forum 2021: to formulate  common cybersecurity standards, norms, and approaches; and to create a new technical foundation to cybersecurity, as all high-level strategies fall short due to the lack of broadly accepted terms and concepts.

The session on smart city governance discussed intersectional collaboration important for smart cities, such as in the example of transforming Mashhad, Iran into a smart city. Integrated services and suitable participation are important in the governance of smart cities, said Dr Alireza Yari (Head of ICT Policy & Strategic Studies Research Faculty ICT research Institute, Tehran, Iran).