The session focused on direct linkages of the WSIS Action Lines with the proposed sustainable development goals (SDGs) to continue strengthening the impact of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for sustainable development. The moderator, Ms Valeria Betancourt (Association for Progressive Communication [APC], South Africa) started by asking the panellists to explain the connection between the key aim the WSIS Action Lines and its implementation goal in order to accelerate the achievement of all SDGs.
Mr Zunaid Ahmed Palak (State Minister for Information and Communication Technology, Bangladesh) started by sharing the successful projects concerning the information infrastructure in Bangladesh. He noted that they are building the important pillars for digital infrastructure in order to improve the services in health, education, trade sectors, etc. Finally, he mentioned their focus and support on ICT training centres. He highlighted that they are allocating funding for the inclusive digital economy in Bangladesh.
Mr Karma Donnen Wangdi (Minister, Ministry of Information & Communications, Bhutan) explained the situation of ICTs and their impact on economy in Bhutan. He mentioned the role of ICT in gross national happiness, good governance, and accessibility to services. According to him, Bhutan is launching the cheapest mobile broadband services in the region and building the digital communities centres.
Furthermore, Donnen Wangdi talked about 1200 households. The Internet penetration rate was 94.1% in March 2018. The e-government policy is focusing on the technology needs of population. In addition, data hubs have also been established to provide single services of ICT. He mentioned the ICT industry and said that government is promoting the paperless services. Finally, he noted that Bhutan is determined to improve the national digital economy.
Mr Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi (Minister of ICT, Iran) talked about the SGDs 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) and 17 (partnerships for the goals) as the facilitators in improving the digital economy policies. He noted the importance of e-government services, Internet access, etc. He said that there are 44 entities which provide services through Iran’s Global Source Book (GSB). In addition, he mentioned the work on their national data protection and development of ICT infrastructure. He further said that unilateralism of some countries is the source of one of the greatest problems against SDGs. In conclusion, he noted that his country is under hardships and considered this as an act of ‘economic terrorism’.
Mr Ludovic Le Moan (CEO, Sigfox) said that our global economy led us to create the current problems on climate change. According to him, we need to create 0G network for the energy economy and mentioned that it can help to improve cybersecurity. In addition, he noted that 0G network can help to create millions of jobs in the world and reduce the health problems of populations, particularly in developing countries. Moreover, he highlighted that Sigfox is supporting the 0G network for a better life.
Ms Yolanda Rueda (Founder and CEO, Cibervoluntarios Foundation) said that we must involve the civil society in order to develop the digital economy. She mentioned the role of education, technology, and cybersecurity as the tools to bridge social divides. She also noted only 52% of the world population is connected to the Internet. Finally, she added the impact of civil society is vital to make a change, empower citizens in the digital economy, and reduce inequality.
Mr Pavan Duggal (Chairman, International Commission on Cyber Security Law) explained that many countries are trying to create the cybersecurity legislations. He noted data localisation as a big challenge concerning the protection of national interests. He also mentioned that the critical information infrastructure must be protected and said that there is not the global cybersecurity law. On artificial intelligence (AI), he asked if we are legally ready? AI is increasingly going rogue and Duggal underlined that we have to come up with adequate responsibilities and duties on AI. He mentioned the role of adequate legal safeguards for AI and concluded by saying that AI must help achieve SDGs.
Mr Sebastien Behaghel (Secretary General, FerMUN 2019) said that in Europe 16-24 year olds spend on average 2.5 hours per day online. He noted that his ‘technology generation’ understands ICT as a huge opportunity. However, we need to use it in order to involve young people in achieving the SDGs by using digital skills and infrastructure. Moreover, the youth has to come together and look the solutions for the challenges linked to ICT and the use it for a better world.
Ms Eun-Ju KIM (Chief, Innovation and Partnership Department [IP], WSIS Action Line Facilitator, ITU) highlighted that the mission of the ITU is to support national policies on ICT infrastructure and investments on digital innovation. She also noted the role of inclusive technology. Finally, she reiterated the importance of partnership in order to meet the SDGs and thanked the panellists for their valuable input on ICT issues and the digital economy in general.
By Gilles D. Bana