Development - other

Updates

Leaders from the BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – met from 25-27 July for the group’s tenth annual summit. The theme of the summit was “BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution.” In the Johannesburg Declaration, issued at the end of the meeting, BRICS leaders affirmed their support for the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, noting the potential for implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a means of delivering inclusive, sustainable development. They also called for developed countries to meet their foreign aid commitments and provide further support to developing country partners.

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs launched a ranking of countries on e-government development. According to the publication, despite recent progress and major investments in e-government, the world’s poorest countries are lagging behind due to a persisting the digital divide. Fourteen countries out of sixteen with low scores are African and belong to the least developed countries group. This indicates that the digital divide could deepen between people who have access to Internet and online services and those who do not, jeopardizing the vision of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development for ‘leaving no one behind’. Denmark, Australia, and Republic of Korea came out on top of a group of 40 countries, scoring very high on the E-Government Development Index—EGDI, which measures countries’ use of information and communications technologies to deliver public services. Globally, almost two thirds of 193 United Nations Members States now demonstrate a high-level of e-government development with EGDI values above in the range of 0.5 and 1. The share of countries with low e-government levels, in the range of 0 to 0.25, has dropped by a significant 50 percent, from 32 countries in 2016 to 16 countries in 2018.

Officials meeting for the annual High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) at UN headquarters in New York called for an escalation in progress in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their respective targets, while conducting reviews of specific SDGs and discussing Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) from 46 countries. In a ministerial declaration the HLPF acknowledged that while progress had been made with some goals and targets, it is not advancing fast enough to achieve the SDGs. It further noted that progress has been uneven across countries and regions, emphasising the need to “urgently accelerate progress toward all targets, in particular those with a timeframe of 2020.” The HLPF is the central body that provides guidance and recommendations on sustainable development to UN member states, as well as overseeing the voluntary, state-led national review process. At the close of the HLPF, UN Secretary-General António Guterres delivered a speech, welcoming the progress achieved so far, but acknowledging that efforts are “lagging or even backtracking in other areas.” He noted that the number of undernourished people has increased, rather than abated. He also cited persistent gender inequality and a lack of investment in sustainable infrastructure as areas of concern. The Secretary-General reaffirmed his plans to convene a Climate Summit in September 2019 in order to galvanise greater climate ambition. He also confirmed plans to convene a High-level Meeting on Financing the 2030 Agenda in September 2018, along with calling for better use of technological advances and for strengthening institutions.

The EU and Japan signed a trade deal in Tokyo. The accord, known as the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), has been under formal negotiation since 2013. Leaders stressed that the agreement will strengthen the alliance between countries who share a set of core values, including a commitment to using trade as a tool to support sustainable development objectives. The EU and Japanese officials also issued a joint statement, welcoming the signing of the EPA as well as a separate accord known as a Strategic Partnership Agreement, which aims to facilitate more in-depth work on a host of shared policy priorities. The EPA covers a broad range of topics, such as slashing duties on nearly all tariff lines, tackling non-tariff measures, supporting small and medium-sized enterprises, improving market access in several key services sectors, such as telecommunications and financial services and public procurement. The agreement shall enter into force in 2019.

French president Emmanuel Macron has held a meeting with about 60 key figures of the tech industry, including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Uber’s Dara Khosrowshahi and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella. During the meeting, he reportedly warned the industry that they cannot just be ‘free riding’ without giving back to society and helping to improve ‘social situations, inequalities, [and] climate change’. The issue of taxation was one of the key discussion topics. In addition, with the meeting, Macron hoped to boost investment and jobs in France, especially in the area of artificial intelligence. Macron also discussed issues as data protection, hate speech, and fake news with the technology companies.

The World Bank has released The Global Findex Database 2017 report, providing data on how individuals around the world save, borrow, make payments, and arrange risks. In its third edition, the report also includes data on the use of financial technology (including the Internet and mobile phones) to conduct financial transactions. The main finding of the report is that financial inclusion – an enabler of the 2030 sustainable development goals – is on the rise at a global level, but that measures are still needed to expand access to financial services, especially in developing countries. To this aim, the report notes that digital technologies can drive sustainable financial inclusion if the necessary infrastructure is in place, and an enabling environment is created in areas such as digitising payments of wages and government benefits, putting in place strong consumer protection rules, and introducing digital technology-based identification cards. According to the World Bank, the data in the report is used by UN member states to track progress toward the sustainable development goals.

The need for people to gain access to ICT resources and narrow the digital divide is crucial, and is especially relevant now in the light of the Sustainable Development Goals. It is also important to understand how access to the Internet affects the level of economic and social development in a country.

What are the effects of the global Internet on international development? How can ICTs opportunities for development be harnessed and controlled?  

Following the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals in September 2015, there have been many initiatives aimed to explore the ways in which ICTs could catalyse development; some examples include the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)’s ICT for Development programme, and the 2015 and 2016 WSIS Forums, which heavily focused on linking the SDGs to ICT solutions. The 2016 World Development Report of the World Bank provided an in-depth look into the broader development benefits from using digital technologies.

The World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) process has strongly positioned itself in the development context. In 2015, WSIS Action Line facilitators published a matrix, linking the Action Lines directly to the SDGs. WSIS Forum 2016 anchored all activities and plans in the context of the SDGs. As the links between the WSIS Action Lines and the SDGs show, the effects of ICT on socio-economic development are diverse and multi-directional. As ICT has deeply penetrated the dynamics of connected societies, it can have a pivotal effect on modern-day economies in a multitude of domains. For example, ICT can help in the fight against poverty, by improving nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture. Furthermore, ICT applications in the health sector can promote well-being, and applications in education can stimulate quality education and learning opportunities for all. The accessibility to ICT for vulnerable groups can help in their empowerment, and use of ICTs by governments has the potential to generate more effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions.

These are only a handful of examples of the wide-ranging effect of ICTs on socio-economic development. The topic was addressed in further detail in the World Bank’s 2016 Development Report, Digital Dividends, which offers a comprehensive analysis of the benefits that digital technologies can bring for development. According to the report, digital technologies bring benefits to people (easier access to information, jobs, and other opportunities), businesses (more productivity and trade, greater competition and innovation), and governments (better public services and enhanced interaction with citizens). Yet, challenges remain in fully capturing the opportunities that digital technologies generate, and countries need to work on ‘analog complements’, including strengthened regulations and accountable institutions.

Finally, the Commission on Science and Technology for Development has focused its 2015-2016 intersessional activity on the theme ‘Foresight for digital development’, examining the potential long-term effects of quickly-developing digital applications (including the Internet of Things, online education, 3D printing, digital automation, etc.) on the economy, society, and the environment. The Commission has made a number of recommendations to governments, encouraging them to, inter alia, adopt appropriate policies to support the development of emerging technologies and to take advantage of the opportunities they create, and to promote an enabling environment for digital development, with a focus on areas such as human capital, ICT and complementary infrastructure, and legal frameworks.

In short, the effects of ICTs on socio-economic development are complex and wide-ranging. Moreover, with the continuous innovations in the ICT sector, it has become a challenge to have up-to-date information about the social consequences and potential of digital technologies. Nevertheless, the growing interest in these social and economic dimensions of ICTs provides possibilities to better measure and untangle the web of ICT’s impact on society, and to find out how to best utilise ICT applications for socio-economic development.

 

Events

Actors

(CSTD)

The CSTD reviews progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the WSIS outcomes at the regional and

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The CSTD reviews progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the WSIS outcomes at the regional and international level, and it prepares draft resolutions for the UN Economic and Social Council. These draft resolutions tackle issues ranging from access to information and communication technologies (ICT) and Internet, to  the use of ICTs for early warning and mitigating climate change. At its annual sessions and inter-sessional panels, the Commission also addresses development-related themes such as: science, technology, and innovation for sustainable cities and communities; ICT for inclusive social and economic development; digital development; Internet broadband for inclusive societies; and smart cities and infrastructure.

(ICT4Peace)

In the area of online content policy, the ICT for Peace Foundation is engaged in activities concerning the use

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In the area of online content policy, the ICT for Peace Foundation is engaged in activities concerning the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes. The Foundation is organising events and producing publications on this issue, with the main aim of raising awareness and promoting a multistakeholder dialogue on possible solutions for countering terrorist use of the Internet. Together with the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate, the organisation runs a global engagement project working with other stakeholders to develop community standards around the prevention of violent extremism online, consistent with UN principles, including in the area of human rights.

(IPU)

In line with its objective to build strong and democratic parliaments, the IPU assists parliaments in building

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In line with its objective to build strong and democratic parliaments, the IPU assists parliaments in building their capacity to use information and communications technologies (ICT) effectively. In 2005, the IPU, together with UNDESA, established a Global Centre on ICT in Parliament, mainly aimed at promoting the use of ICTs in parliaments as a mean to increase transparency and effectiveness. The IPU has also been mandated by its member states to carry on capacity development programmes for parliamentary bodies tasked to oversee observance of the right to privacy and individual freedoms in the digital environment.

(ITU, UIT)
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The ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) develops international standards (called recommendations) covering information and communications technologies. Standards are developed on a consensus-based approach, by study groups composed of representatives of ITU members (both member states and companies). These groups focus on a wide range of topics: operational issues, economic and policy issues, broadband networks, Internet protocol based networks, future networks and cloud computing, multimedia, security, the Internet of Things and smart cities, and performance and quality of service. The World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA), held every four years, defines the next period of study for the ITU-T.

(WEF)

Within the framework of its Digital Economy and Society initiative, WEF has launched the

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Within the framework of its Digital Economy and Society initiative, WEF has launched the Internet for All project, aimed at bringing online tens of millions of Internet users by the end of 2019, initially through programmes targeted at the Northern Corridor in Africa, Argentina, and India. In addition to this project, WEF also undertakes research on Internet-access-related issues. One notable example is the annual Global Information Technology Report and the related Networked Readiness Index, which measures, among others, the rates of Internet deployment worldwide. Internet access and the digital divide are also addressed in the framework of various WEF initiatives such as its annual meetings and regional events.

(BCSD)

The Commission promotes the adoption of practices and policies that enable the deployment of broadband network

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The Commission promotes the adoption of practices and policies that enable the deployment of broadband networks at national level, especially within developing countries. It engages in advocacy activities aimed to demonstrate that broadband networks are basic infrastructures in modern societies and could accelerate the achievement of the sustainable development goals. The Commission publishes an annual State of the Broadband Report, providing an overview of broadband network access and affordability, with country-by-country data measuring broadband access. Other reports, open letters, and calls for actions issues by the Commission also underline the benefits of broadband as a critical infrastructure towards achieving growth and development.

World Bank
(World Bank)

NetHope
(NetHope)

World Wide Web Foundation
(Web Foundation)

GSMA
(GSMA)

Instruments

Resolutions & Declarations

WHO Resolution 66.24 - 'eHealth Standardization and Interoperability' (2013)

Other Instruments

Tunis Agenda for the Information Society (WSIS) (2005)
Link to: Tunis Agenda for the Information Society (WSIS) paragraph 111 (2005)
Link to: Tunis Agenda for the Information Society (WSIS) paragraph 23 (2005)
Link to: Tunis Agenda for the Information Society (WSIS) paragraph 29 (2005)
Link to: Tunis Agenda for the Information Society (WSIS) paragraph 34 (2005)
Link to: Tunis Agenda for the Information Society (WSIS) paragraph 35 (2005)
Link to: Tunis Agenda for the Information Society (WSIS) paragraph 55 (2005)
Link to: Tunis Agenda for the Information Society (WSIS) paragraph 69 (2005)
Link to: Tunis Agenda for the Information Society (WSIS) paragraph 72 (2005)

Resources

Africa goes digital: Leaving no one behind (2018)
Blockchain Technology and Internet Governance (2017)

Publications

Internet Governance Acronym Glossary (2015)
An Introduction to Internet Governance (2014)

Reports

Rule of Law and Democracy in the Digital Society: Challenges and Opportunities for Europe (2018)
ICT Facts and Figures 2017 (2017)
Global Information Technology Report 2016 (2016)
Advancing Digital Societies in Asia (2016)
UNCTAD B2C E-commerce Index 2016 (2016)
The Economic Impact of Rural Broadband (2016)
Internet for All: A Framework for Accelerating Internet Access and Adoption (2016)
e-Commerce in India: A Game Changer for the Economy (2016)
A New Regulatory Framework for the Digital Ecosystem (2016)
Harnessing the Internet of Things for Global Development (2016)
Measuring the Information Society 2015 (2015)
The 2015 BCG e-Intensity Index (2015)
UNESCO Science Report: Towards 2030 (2015)
The Mobile Economy - Arab States 2015 (2015)
Trade Facilitation and Paperless Trade Implementation Survey 2015 (2015)
OECD Digital Economy Outlook 2015 (2015)
The Global Information Technology Report 2015: ICTs for Inclusive Growth (2015)
The Relationship between Local Content, Internet Development and Access Prices (2013)
Smart Policies to Close the Digital Divide: Best Practices from Around the World (2012)

GIP event reports

Sustainable technology-enabled trade and a more inclusive trading system - Small state, ACP States, LDC and SSA perspective (2018)
Inclusive trade and new technologies: Challanges for African countries (2018)
Privacy and consumer protection in the age of artificial intelligence (2018)
Leveraging technology to support SMEs in LDCs: Opportunities and challenges (2018)
Digital Trade and Cyber Security: Catalysts for Development? (2018)
Digital trade - Global anarchy or revival of rule-based world order? (2018)
Competition issues in the context of technology and internet-based firms (2018)
Blockchain and the future of trade: fostering sustainability and inclusiveness through innovative distributed ledger technologies (2018)
Will technology help developing countries have easier access to trade finance (2018)
The great connector: Digital trade policy as a path to a comprehensive framework for multilateral regulations of trade and socio-economic development (2018)
How can WTO contribute to ensure that technology enables trade in goods and services in 2030 and beyond? Is the e-commerce multilateral initiative the right solution? (2018)
A workers' agenda for e-commerce (2018)
Technology for trade and agriculture: Unleashing agriculture global value chains' (GVCs) potential in OIC member countries (2018)
Opening Plenary Debate (2018)
E-commerce 2030: Enabling an inclusive future for e-commerce (2018)
Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development: regional experiences to promote youth employment and address inequality (2018)
Better data for sustainable development (2018)
Combining Digital Governance and Stakeholder Knowledge to Promote Innovation and Transformative Actions in Support of the 2030 Agenda (2018)
Ireland’s innovative approach to monitoring the SDG indicators through geospatial visualisation (2018)
From up there to down here: Big space data and the SDGs (2018)
Knowledge frameworks to accelerate the 2030 Agenda (2018)
It’s in the Numbers – the Power of Partnerships to Measure SDG Progress (2018)
Shaping smarter and more sustainable cities: Striving for Sustainable Development Goals (2018)
Session 3: Policy and regulation perspective – Privacy and beyond (2018)
Blockchain for transition towards sustainable and resilient societies (2018)
StaTact, data and monitoring for resilient societies (2018)
Thematic review: Advancing Science, Technology and Innovation for the SDGs (2018)
ICT enabling the transition towards sustainable and resilient societies (2018)
Roundtable Discussion: AI for Development (2018)
Leadership Debate: Emerging Technologies for Digital Transformation (2018)
Scaling solutions for Goal 12 for smartphones and ICT (2018)
Opening Session and Session 1: AI and Cybersecurity – The State of Play (2018)
Monitoring peace, evaluating institutions, building capacity: A data-driven conversation on SDG 16 and its upcoming 2019 review (2018)
Session 4 – Ways forward and closing (2018)
Session 2: AI and IoT – Exploit the potential for building confidence and security in the use of ICTs (2018)
Privacy is Everywhere: How to Deal with Emerging Problems? (2018)
Applying Technology to Reinforce Security and Promote Development (2018)
Create Your Digital Future: Transforming Lives and Businesses in Europe (2018)
Building on a Blockchain (2018)
Blockchain – A competition to Governments? (2018)
Implementations of AI to Advance the SDGs – Panel 4: Safe and Secure AI (2018)
Projects in Action: Towards AI and Data Commons – Part 2 (2018)
Projects in Action: Towards AI and Data Commons – Part 1 (2018)
Ideas for Impact: AI Breakthrough Team Project Pitches (2018)
Collaborating and Investing in Beneficial AI (2018)
Celebration of the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day AI-Powered Moonshots – Meet the Astronauts (2018)
Building Trust for Beneficial AI – Trustworthy Systems (2018)
AI for Outbreaks, Emergency Response, and Risk Reduction (2018)
Storytellers (2018)
Building Trust for Beneficial AI – Developer Communities (2018)
AI Fostering Smart Government (2018)
AI Empowering Smart Citizens (2018)
AI + Smart Cities and communities (2018)
Building digital competencies to benefit from existing and emerging technologies with a special focus on gender and youth dimensions (2018)
Transformations on the Horizon (2018)
AI for Good Global Summit – Opening Keynote (2018)
Disrupting Development through Science, Technology and Innovation (2018)
Internet Governance or the Question of Legitimacy (2018)
Big Data and Conflict Prevention: Balancing Opportunities with Challenges (2017)
Early Warning Systems and GIS: How Data and Mapping Technologies Can Support Peace (2017)
Can we put artificial intelligence at the service of mankind? (2017)
Launch of the Information Economy Report 2017 (2017)
High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (2017)
How I Am Affected by Internet Governance (2017)
EuroDIG 2017 Welcoming Address (2017)
GIS for a Sustainable World Conference (2017)
Key Outcomes and Way Forward (2017)
Can E-commerce Trade Rules Help Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in Developing Countries? (2017)
Supporting the Involvement of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises in E-Commerce (2017)
Special Session on Assessing eTrade Readiness of the Least Developed Countries (2017)
Launch of eTrade for all Online Platform (2017)
Inclusive Development and E-Commerce: Case of China (2017)
E-commerce in Africa (2017)
Data Flows and Development (2017)
A Multistakeholder Perspective (2017)
Presentation of Good Practices in Cross-sectoral Knowledge Management (2017)
Integration – Fish Bowl Discussion (2017)
Measuring the Impact of Knowledge Management (2017)
Knowledge Management Award 2017 Ceremony (2017)
Introduction of Flagship Documents (2017)
Good Practices in Knowledge Management in the United Nations System (2017)
ICANN58: Moving Towards a Data-Driven ICANN (Cross-Community Session) (2017)
Report for Briefing for Heads of Missions: Digital Policy in South Eastern Europe (2017)