[Read more session reports from the WSIS Forum 2018]
This session gathered all the high-level facilitators to summarise the main topics discussed during the high-level policy sessions at the WSIS Forum 2018.
Ms Crystal Rugege, Carnegie Mellon University Africa, reported on the Moderated High-Level Policy Session 3 – Bridging digital divides, in which the challenges and opportunities in achieving sustainable digital inclusion were discussed. Four major issues were debated: access, affordability, viability and collaboration. The panellists shared the opinion that infrastructure, political will, digital literacy and affordability are key factors that can either narrow or widen the digital divide.
Mr Deepak Maheshwari, Symantec, facilitated the Moderated High-Level Policy Session 3 – Enabling environment, which focused on creating a conducive and enabling environment for the use of information and communication technology (ICT), with the objective of achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs). The following challenges were identified during the panel: cyber-attacks, lack of capacity in understanding rights and responsibilities, accessibility, under-utilisation of ICTs, and lack of accurate data.
Mr Michael Nelson, Cloudflare, facilitated the Moderated High-Level Policy Session 5 – WSIS Action Lines and the 2030 Agenda. The panel examined the possibilities of financing projects that can help nations reach the SDGs. He noted that government policies can foster or hinder private sector financing and for this reason, governments need to collaborate through international organisations.
Dr Anuradha Rao, National University of Singapore, facilitated the Moderated High-Level Policy Session 6 – Bridging digital divides, which explored the policies, innovations and challenges of digital divides. According to Rao, for the Czech Republic, connectivity is not an issue. Japan considers operators the key to bridging digital divides. Research at ICT Africa considers better data collection methods essential to a more accurate understanding of the current digital divides and the progress towards meeting the SDGs.
Mr Pavan Duggal, founder and chairman, International Commission on Cyber Security Law, facilitated the Moderated High-Level Policy Session 7 – Building confidence and security in the use of ICTs. The panellists agreed that building confidence and security in the use of ICTs has to be number the one priority. He affirmed that governments cannot be solely responsible for building security in the use of ICTs.
Ms Moira Patterson, IEEE Standards Association, facilitated the Moderated High-Level Policy Session 8 – Inclusiveness – access to information and knowledge for all. The panellists emphasised the importance of including all stakeholders in the process, including the youth and women. She presented the following trends: Internet connectivity has grown by 8% during the past year, and in the least developed countries it grew by 65% year-over-year; a 2G ‘skinny connection’ is not sufficient to reap the benefits of connectivity, leading to the problem of under-connectivity.
Mr Pierre Mirlesse, Hewlett Packard Enterprise – EMEA, facilitated the Moderated High-Level Policy Session 9 – ICT applications and services. The panel debated actionable insights and best practices from Nigeria, Oman, Azerbaijan, and Mexico. Their shared insight was that: the collaboration between private, public and academic actors has proven a key driver in successful ICT application and services.
Ms Cristina Valdés Arguelle, Geneva International Model of United Nations, moderated the Moderated High-Level Policy Session 10 – Inclusiveness – access to information and knowledge for all. She stressed the need to implement inclusive access to information. She noted that education in the field of digital skills has been fostered among youth.
Ms Moira de Roche, IFIP International, facilitated the Moderated High-Level Policy Session 11 – ICT application and services. The panellists from her session included representatives from the government, NGOs and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). They recognised as fresh priorities green computing; cybersecurity, accessibility and connectivity. The ITU has been working with the International Labour Organization (ILO) to produce a toolkit for digital skills. 3D augmented reality has been used in the health sector to teach doctors in underserved areas.
Ms Ayanna Samuels, consultant, She Leads It, Jamaica, facilitated the Moderated High-Level Policy Session 12 – Gender mainstreaming. The session discussed actions to secure gender equality in the ICT sector. Samuels presented some figures: 184 million fewer women than men own a mobile phone; only 2% of venture funding went to women in the US, in 2017; 98 million girls are out of school; 1 out of 5 girls is married, preventing them from realising their full educational potential; 250 million fewer women use the Internet than men; in Europe, only 17% of IT jobs are held by women.
Ms Natalia Vicente, EMEA Satellite Operators Association (ESOA), facilitated the Moderated High-Level Policy Session 13 – Digital economy and trade. The digital divide has increased: in developing countries, just 2% of the population use e-commerce, in comparison to 60% to 80% of the population in developed countries; globally, 25% fewer women use the Internet than men. The solutions encompass building infrastructure, data transfers, and enhancing collaboration among different stakeholders.
Mr Alfredo Ronchi, EC MEDICI Framework of Cooperation, facilitated the Moderated High-Level Policy Session 14 – Knowledge societies, capacity building and e-learning/media. The panellists agreed that capacity building is fundamental to enhance e-learning.
Mr George Anthony Giannoumis, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, facilitated the Moderated High-Level Policy Session 1 – WSIS Action Lines and the 2030 Agenda. Several delegates emphasised the need to ensure that ICTs promote equality and an inclusive society. The priorities listed were: the implementation of fibre optics; ensuring everyone can access ICTs equally; and big data analytics as a mechanism for achieving the SDGs.
Ms Renata Avila, Web Foundation, facilitated the Moderated High-Level Policy Session 2 – Bridging digital divides. She affirmed that priorities are related to: the connectivity of the rural population; high-quality foreign investment in least developed countries, and the importance of preparing the entire economy for digitalisation.
The session was closed with the delivery of certificates and prizes to the facilitators.
By Ana Corrêa