WSIS Chairman Mr Mustafa Jabbarv (Minister of Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology, Bangladesh) began the closing ceremony with remarks on the importance of worldwide participation in the Information Society Summit.
Ms Elle Wang (Partnerships Specialist, The Executive Board Secretariat of United Nations Development Programme [UNDP]) thanked WSIS for the opportunity to engage directly with experts that can help the UNDP’s efforts to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs). She mentioned the rapid changes in the frame of technology and the need to work closely with partners and communities across the world. The UNDP announced the launch of 60 accelerators labs that look forward to engaging with the WSIS community, too.
Mr Abdulaziz Almuzaini (Director of the Geneva Liaison Office, UNESCO) noted that knowledge societies must build on four pillars: freedom of expression, universal access to information and knowledge, respect for cultural and linguistic diversity, and quality education for all. He pointed to the forum as an excellent example of the multistakeholder consultations necessary to ensure inclusive and equitable knowledge societies based on these pillars. Almuzaini said UNESCO will continue to serve as facilitator of six of the WSIS Action Lines and coordinate global actions in these fields.
Ms Scarlett Fondeur Gil, (ICT Policy section, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development [UNCTAD]) reaffirmed UNCTAD’s commitment to supporting WSIS and the information society in harnessing the digital economy for sustainable development. UNCTAD is currently Chair of the Steering Committee for the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development, contributing to WSIS Action Line C11. The Partnership presented the draft thematic list of ICT indicators which can be used by countries to measure ICT availability and used in sectors relevant to the SDGs that are not covered in the global SDG indicators framework. The draft is open to comments until 30 April and the link can be found in the WSIS Outcome Document.
Jabbarv then opened the floor to the audience. Remarks touched on issues such as the importance of bridging the cryptographic divide for better security, especially in the developing world. Another concern was about the gap between the policies that people make at WSIS and their implementation, which is very weak in places. The representative from the Jordan Telecom Regulation Authority suggested that the next WSIS conduct the high-level sessions earlier so that participants could have several days ahead for dedicated workshops to work on implementation steps for the high-level policy outcomes.
Mr Houlin Zao (ITU Secretary-General) took the floor to thank all participants and organisers. He also shared two novelties of this forum: one dedicated day to talk about the projects to assist people with disabilities and the emergence of blockchain as a topic in connection with supporting agriculture. Zao noted how many high-level delegates at the forum for the first time had found it very useful for their future work.
The last speaker, Ms Doreen Bogdan-Martin (Director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau of ITU), acknowledged the fruitful outcomes of WSIS this year and noted how far we have moved forward from the beginning of the forum in 2003.
The forum concluded with final remarks from Jabbarv, who emphasised several important high-priority issues to be tackled: language diversity on the Internet, security of an increasingly digitalised world, and development of digital skills for future generations to cope with disruptive technologies. Ultimately, Jabbarv stressed the importance of updating action plans according to constantly changing circumstances.
By Ilona Stadnik