Opening segment: appreciation ceremony for WSIS Forum 2021 partners and the high-level dialogue with partners

18 May 2021 12:00h - 13:00h

Event report

Through an ever-increasing range of innovations, case studies, and best practices, we have learned how ICT can be used to make real contributions to sustainability and to improve people’s lives and economies. In all of these discussions, one element stands out: the importance of collaboration, of cooperating to ensure that digital transformation is truly for the benefit of all.

Ms Mashael Ali Youef Al-Hammadi (Acting Assistant Under Secretary of Government Information Technology), speaking on behalf of Qatar, believes that the UN SDGs are a common long-term goal that ensures stakeholders are mutually aligned and that gives every actor a common purpose. Alignment with the UN SDGs has always been both a priority for Qatar when thinking of action plans and a permanent cornerstone when developing national strategies.

To contribute towards advancing the SDG, the IEEE has actively addressed issues at the intersection of technology and sustainable development, promoting activities and initiatives that include, for example, publications focused on sustainable technology (such as computing and energy); and bringing stakeholders (including policymakers) together at conferences and other events in which technologies and sustainable development are discussed, explained Dr Maike Luiken (Vice President of Member Geographical Activities at IEEE USA).

The global need for digital technology has substantially increased in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Japan, the expansion of 5G infrastructure and research on the 6G internet has been essential to fight the pandemic, states Mr Yamaguchi Norifumi (Director for Technical Cooperation, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan). Japan has taken steps to promote further cooperation in digital technologies by establishing a joint project with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to support the efforts of developing countries to improve environments for digital infrastructure.

When asked what can be done to alleviate stakeholder concerns about cybersecurity, Dr Zhong Luo (Chair, ITU Standards & Industry Development Sector) replied that this can be achieved by working in a united way and under some organisations, as shown by the efforts led by ITU in the groundbreaking project initiated a decade ago.

Dr Nsabimana Ernest (Director General, Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA)) explained how the Government of Rwanda has adopted an aggressive stance regarding ICT since the development of the first national ICT Strategy in 2000. Through this strategy, the country has accelerated the development of ICT in its region, especially in the East African community and Northern corridor, by promoting regional integration through bringing down the high cost of mobile and data roaming.

Inclusive, transparent, and accountable multistakeholder processes are essential in all stages of implementing the results of WSIS. It is necessary to include all relevant stakeholders in the development of solutions in the field, as well as in the development of norms and regulations, by involving all stakeholders in dialogue and decision-making processes, according to Mr Thomas Schneider (Ambassador, Head of International Relations Service and Vice-Director Office Fédéral de la Communication (OFCOM) of Switzerland).

The Internet Society has been working on the access gap for nearly three decades. With the pandemic, it has become clear how important access is, but the remaining access gaps are complex and challenging. Emerging opportunities, technology, and financing could be harnessed to address these access gaps, but without effective multistakeholder collaboration, Ms Rinalia Abdul Rahim (Senior Vice President, Strategy, Communications and Engagement at the Internet Society (ISOC)) does not believe that anyone will succeed.

Ms Moira de Roche (Chair and Councillor at IFIP) explained how the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) has delivered a virtual event over four months, as part of a plan to intensify relationships with UNESCO. Her group is involved with the project on AI ethics and presently seeks involvement with other bodies, such as ITU and CSTD on the project on global cybersecurity skills frameworks. As well, the group looks for ways to reduce the severe gender imbalance in this discipline.

Finally, Mr Michael W. Hodin (CEO, Global Coalition on Aging) explained how ICT aimed at improving the lives of older persons should be based on what these individuals want, not on what other people believe they need. He cited the example of Age Care Technologies, which produced a set of technologies to assess what an older person’s needs are based on their goals to work longer, to be with their children, and to be active and involved in the economy.