Development - other

Updates

The European Commission launched an annual scoreboard to monitor women's participation in the digital economy. The Women in Digital (WiD) Scoreboard is a tool to measure and assess the participation of women in the digital economy through four types of analysis: 1) evaluating the general characterisation of the performance of individual Member States, 2) pinpointing areas for improvement by analysing individual indicators, 3) assessing progress over time, 4) pointing out the need for improve relevant policy areas. The scorecard revealed a gender gap in all 13 indicators at EU level which is largely manifested in the area of ICT specialist skills and employment; 76 % for ICT specialists and 47 % for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics graduates. Nonetheless, the difference is reduced within the younger age group (16 to 24) between women and men vis-à-vis digital participation; 55% of women compared to 60% of men. This gap is even reversed in certain countries where women overperform men in digital participation. 

The UN Flagship Report on Disability and Development 2018 – Realizing the SDGs by, for and with persons with disabilities shows that people with disabilities are at a disadvantage regarding most Sustainable Development Goals, but also highlights the growing number of good practices that can create a more inclusive society in which they can live independently”, noted UN Secretary-General António Guterres. The report further underlines the digital divide between persons and disabilities who still can’t share the benefits of information and communication technologies (ICTs). This gap amounts to 30% for internet use and 10% in access to internet in the household in some countries due to accessibility and affordability issues. This further poses challenges for disabilities to reap the benefits of internet technologies to improve their lives and hence realize the various SDGs for persons with disabilities. The report pinpoints some recommendations to strengthen the ICT ecosystem to ensure inclusion and accessibility for persons with disabilities which includes: promoting the principles of Universal Design in the mainstream ICT industry and the public sector, adopting national ICT accessibility policies and regulations, involving all relevant stakeholders and increase funding to support low-cost ICTs for persons with disabilities, and develop and publish comparable data on access to and use of ICTs disaggregated by disability as well as on accessibility of ICTs.

During the G20 Summit in Argentina from 30 November – 1 December 2018, the leaders of countries and global organisations reached an agreement on areas for development and economic growth through an agenda that is people-centred, inclusive, and forward-looking. The G20 Leaders’ declaration building consensus for fair and sustainable development focuses on digitalisation and emerging technologies for innovative growth and productivity. To this aim, it endorses different measures that include, but not limited to, overcoming the digital gender divide, promoting digital inclusion, and enhancing digital government, digital infrastructure as well as measurement of the digital economy. Additionally, The G20 leaders marked a desire to embrace the G20 Repository of Digital Policies aiming at espousing the adoption of innovative digital economy business models. In that sense, the declaration emphasises the importance of the interface between trade and the digital economy. It further calls upon the digital industry to collaborate to combat the exploitation of the internet and social media for terrorist purposes.

United Nations Secretary-General kicked off a global task force including public and private sector as well as finance leaders – serving in their personal capacities – from both developed and developing countries to recommend strategies to the digital finance of Sustainable Development Goals. “Not just financial institutions, but entire financial systems are being transformed by the digital revolution. We have an historic opportunity to ensure that what emerges are financial systems that put people at the centre”, said Maria Ramos, co-Chair of the Task Force and Chief Executive Officer of the Absa Group Ltd. (South Africa) and Achim Steiner, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme. The Task Force on Digital Financing will meet in Davos in January and is expected to present its preliminary report of recommendations to the Secretary-General in September.

The International Telecommunication Union Plenipotentiary Conference (ITU-PP18) was convened during the period of 29 October – 16 November 2018 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. During the conference, Houlin Zhao, ITU Secretary-General underscored that “[w]e have many challenges ahead of us. Far too many people around the world are still waiting to reap the benefits of the digital economy. Substantial digital divides still exist within and between countries. We need to continue our efforts to leverage ICT to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. I am pleased that PP-18 supports ITU's work towards this end." The main PP-18 decisions focused on harnessing new technologies as a source of good with special focus on Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) and the role of ITU in supporting the advancement of these goals through information and communication technology (ICT). These targets are divided into five strategic goals: growth, inclusiveness, sustainability, innovation, and partnership. To this aim, the ITU member states has further approved a revised resolution on the use of ICTs to bridge the digital divide. It reinforces the benefits of ICT in developing countries through providing opportunities for digital services and enabling the digitalisation of infrastructure which, in turn, upholds the digital economy. 

A ministerial forum under the theme of Bridging the Digital Divide was convened during the fifth World Conference (WIC) on 8 November 2018. The forum, which was attended by ministerial officials, heads of telecommunication companies, scholars, and experts from 14 countries, tackled different topics including digital divide and economic development, digital divide and information sharing, and role of international communication on bridging digital divide. Zhuang Rongwen, Chinese Minister of Cyberspace Administration noted in his speech: "[w]e should strengthen cooperation in enhancing people's internet literacy and abilities and strengthen the training of digital skills to help them improve the awareness and capability of network security protection." During the keynote speech session, Chinese and foreign guests emphasised the challenges and opportunities to narrow the digital divide. Some of the key highlights included eliminating the gap between the rich and the poor, informalisation of education, promoting entrepreneurship, fostering economic globalisation and global digital market, and constructing a ‘Digital Silk Road’ in the endeavors to bridge the digital divide.

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.

NetHope
(NetHope)

World Wide Web Foundation
(Web Foundation)

World Bank
(World Bank)

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

Scaling up human rights due diligence through the use of blockchain (2018)
Data & diplomats: capacity development for diplomats and policy-makers in the data age (2018)
Closing session: Implementation of the Cape Town Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data – the way forward (2018)
The Open Algorithms (OPAL) Project: What has been achieved in Senegal and Colombia and how can it scale? (2018)
Relevant to everyone’s sense of “me, here, now”: data literacy as the means towards a social inclusion revolution (2018)
Investment and the Digital Economy (2018)
Global Leaders Investment Summit I: Investment in a new era of globalization (2018)
Matchmaking for the data revolution: bringing data producers and users together (2018)
Increasing Trust in Data and Statistics (2018)
Developing Capacities for the 2030 Agenda: Moving towards Implementation (2018)
Opening session: Harnessing the power of data for sustainable development (2018)
Effective Capacity Building and Technical Assistance in a world of data: How to say no and better coordinate technical assistance (2018)
Big Data for Sustainable Development: what does it take to get to the next level? (2018)
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)