[Read more session reports and updates from the 14th Internet Governance Forum]
The session was part of the Open Consultation Process for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum 2020 to discuss the ongoing preparations of the forum and its preliminary results, and to invite all to contribute to its many activities, and introduce the new special tracks and the WSIS+15 component. The forum was co-organised by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
The WSIS Forum 2020 consultation process consists of six phases including four physical meetings. On behalf of the ITU and other co-organisers - which include 32 UN agencies, Mr Ushe Tori-Cory (Chief of Strategy and Membership, ITU) extended an open invitation to all stakeholders to engage and be part of the process and the forum itself.
The actual WSIS 2019 Forum will take place from 6-9 April. Ms Scarlett Fondeur Gil (Economic Affairs Officer, ICT Analysis Section, UNCTAD) reminded everyone of the deadlines for submission of calls for action. She also talked of the estimated number of attendees, more than 3000 physical participants from more than 150 countries, and more than 100 ministers, as well as the logistics and supports that will be provided during the event.
The overall theme for the WSIS Forum 2020 is ‘eTrade for all’; fostering business transaction as action for achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Ms Sasha Rubel (Programme Specialist, Knowledge Society Division at UNESCO) said that e-commerce is critical for the attainment of the SDGs as echoed by the UN Secretary-General during his address at the IGF 2019 Opening Ceremony. Citing several examples of the work that UNESCO is currently doing around the various regions of the world, Rubel reiterated that they will continue to collaborate with all other partners to achieve SDGs.
Technology has a place in all aspects of the SDGs and this calls for a digital transformation roadmap. Ms Minerva Novero-Belec (UNDP Focal Point) highlighted the UNDP’s work to support the SDG roadmaps which currently covers 60 countries and counting. She called for all hands to be on deck so that the coming decade which has been termed the ‘acceleration decade’ will see the attainment of the SDGs.
Past WSIS champions represent success stories from across the world and Mr Vladimir Stankovic (Policy Analyst, WSIS) highlighted their impact and the current projects of the champions. Case examples were shared on how the prize funds helped some winners scale projects and initiatives to be more profitable and sustainable. He also shared how they are reviewing the inputs for the competition for next year’s prize, and are following up with some applicants to better describe the impacts of their projects not just socially, but also financially, so that the prize money can help scale up their initiatives to provide greater benefit. Finally, Stankovic invited all past winners who are not part of their network to join, so that their impact can be tracked better.
By Jacob Odame-Baiden