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This session convened in preparation for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum 2019. The participants provided information to the community about the WSIS Process, the implementation of WSIS Action Lines for the Achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the WSIS Forum 2019 Open Consultation Process, WSIS Prizes 2019 and the WSIS 2019 Hackathon.
The session, which was moderated by Mr Vladimir Stankovic, WSIS Secretariat, International Telecommunications Union (ITU), provided information about the upcoming WSIS Forum 2019. This was the first physical meeting about WSIS Forum 2019 since its launching in July.
Ms Sasha Rubel, Program Specialist, Knowledge Societies Division, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), opened the session by greeting the participants and the organisers of WSIS Forum 2019. She addressed the commitment of UNESCO to WSIS process and the role of UNESCO as the facilitator of six WSIS action lines. After briefly discussing UNESCO internet universality indicators, Rubel elaborated on the planned UNESCO activities at WSIS 2019. This year, in addition to three high level panels that will deal with accessibility, cultural heritage, artificial intelligence (AI), and preservation of indigenous languages, UNESCO will also co-ordinate the upcoming WSIS hackathon together with other stakeholders.
A statement on behalf of Mr Torbjörn Fredriksson, Chief ICT Policy Section, Division of Technology and Logistics, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), was read by the moderator of the panel. The statement addressed UNCTAD involvement in WSIS 2019 and encouraged other stakeholders to take part in the WSIS process, especially regarding the economic and trade aspects of the information society. The statement also invited all stakeholders involved and interested in any aspect of e-commerce to participate in the upcoming UNCTAD E-commerce Week 2019 and Africa E-commerce Week. The latter is the first regional conference to deal with e-commerce while specifically examining ways for African countries to engage and benefit from e-commerce.
Mr Vladimir Stankovic, ICT Policy Analyst, Corporate Strategy Division, ITU, presented the topic of this year WSIS Forum which is, ’Information and communication technologies for achieving the sustainable development goals‘. Stankovic explained the procedures and the deadlines for submitting to WSIS Forum 2019. He highlighted some of the special events that will take place this year and especially the WSIS photo competition, the WSIS Hackathon that will deal with coding for e-learning and will be organised by ITU and UNESCO, the WSIS stocktaking (best practices of implementing WSIS actions lines), and the WSIS prizes.
Mr Deniz Susar, Governance & Public Administration Officer, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs(UNDESA), addressed how UNDESA facilitates WSIS action lines especially those that deal with information and communication technology (ICT) for development, e-government and international co-operation. Susar’s talk was devoted to sharing some of the work being done by UNDESA in relation to e-government, and he presented the results of the 2018 UNDESA E-Government survey. According to the survey, more countries provide online services which target the most vulnerable groups. Currently, European countries are leading in all matters concerning e-government while African countries are still far behind. Although the progress in the matter in Asia and the Americas is slow, it is still noticeable.
Ms Joyce Dogniez, Senior Director, Global Community Engagement, Internet Society, presented the winners of the 2018 WSIS prize, the Internet Society project, Digital Schools. This project involved 30 Internet Society chapters that suggested projects in matters concerning education and ICT such as digital literacy, online lectures, training people in the community, online safety and developing connectivity for schools and educational institutions. Not only did the project help facilitate WSIS actions lines, but it also contributed to the collaboration between the different chapters of the Internet Society. Dogniez concluded by addressing how the WSIS prizes created an amazing buzz and furthermore initiated a discussion about the importance of ICT in education.
By Efrat Daskal