[Read more session reports from the WSIS Forum 2018]
The session addressed the WSIS Action Line Facilitators who help achieve the WSIS lines at regional, national, and international levels.
Mr Deniz Suzar, UNDESA, reported on WSIS action lines C1, C7 and C11 which focus on e-government strategies to build resilient and sustainable development practices. His panel included government representatives from the UK, Mexico, Bangladesh, Microsoft from the private sector, and the German Digital Opportunities Foundation representing civil society. It was emphasised that ICT has to be more accessible to non-specialists.
The panel also considered the solution of using more understandable language for non-ICT people. It was also said that e-governance should be more transparent, and the creation of digital market places for digital public sectors involving small and medium enterprises is needed. The importance of public-private partnerships to set up digital centres, especially in countries where access to the internet is not very high, was also highlighted. From the panel, governments were called on to include different stakeholders to set clear targets for development, and to create holistic frameworks for sustainability.
Dr Kemal Huseinovic, chief, ITU-BDT IEE department, reported on Action Line 2 on infrastructure and commented that despite ICT becoming an essential good, in the sense that it can enable access to health or assure life, 4 billion people are still unconnected, due mainly to the lack of infrastructure. All stakeholders debated in the WSIS forum 2018 about economic barriers for affordable access.
Ms Sasha Rubel, programme specialist, communication and information sector, UNESCO, reported on action lines 3, 7, 8, 9 and 10. Freedom of expression, a fundamental right, was addressed as foundational to target 10 on public access to information and fundamental freedoms. Diverse social media stakeholders have to find a solution to enhance freedom of expression.
She indicated that the draft on Internet universality indicators will contribute to achieving freedom of expression, specifically in the context of technological innovation.
Regarding inclusiveness, until now much of the effort has been concentrated on technical skills. It was pointed out that girls should have access to coding and programing training in schools, from an early age.
Security was addressed with the WSIS action line C5 as a milestone. In this line, the ITU launched a global cybersecurity agenda. This year is the 20th anniversary of the high-level expert group which elaborated the holistic approach for cybersecurity solutions, and the 20th anniversary of the child online protection initiative that has the ITU as a global stakeholder, and which aims to protect and empower children online.
Dr Huseinovic reported on action line 6 on the enabling environment, and the panel addressed suitable regulatory approaches for ICTs. It was emphasised that ICT has to be affordable, considering its importance for digital transformation. ICT is more affordable in competitive markets, and demands structured competition regulation. He also added that infrastructure is always mentioned as crucial for digital information, but it is not enough. It is also important to provide inter-sectorial regulatory answers for technology, taking into consideration that technological developments reach diverse sectors, such as health, agriculture, education, and finance.
Mr James Azevedo Görgen, digital innovation and development at FAO, facilitated the WSIS Action Line C7 on building a framework for digital innovation in agriculture. He started by saying that the food and agricultural sector will face challenges to feed the 9.6 billion people on earth by 2050. Food production will have to increase by 70%, and digital innovation is the key.
He pointed out that strategic frameworks for sustainable digital innovation will have to be developed to support the work of stakeholders, such as UN agencies, national governments, and the private sector, in implementing ICT and e-agriculture initiatives. He said that FAO has had partnerships with Google earth engine, Telefonica, and the World Meteorological Organization to develop strategic frameworks.
Ms Minerva Novero-Belec, policy specialist, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) started by saying that during the WSIS forum multiple stakeholders considered that ICT can support the achievement of all SDGs. She underlined the fact that the 2030 agenda for sustainable development is a main goal for UNDP. Governments, the private sector, and individuals are also all facing other challenges, and the new urban agenda should be taken into consideration over the coming years. Stakeholders have to respond to the growth of cities, mainly in developing countries, and engagement with how we build cities should encompass the sustainable goals.
Mr Vladimir Stankovic, WSIS policy analyst, strategic planning and membership department, International Telecommunication Union (ITU), reported on the WSIS Prize session and affirmed that 492 projects about ICT were submitted last year, with 18 winners being selected at the WSIS forum 2018. The number of submissions is increasing annually and represents the recognition by governments and other stakeholders of the importance of the WSIS forum.
Ms Scarlett Fondeur Gil, economic affairs officer, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), reported on WSIS action line C7 about e-business, focusing on goal 8, target 3, to promote development-oriented policies which support productive activities, and the formalisation and growth for micro and medium enterprises. She mentioned that the postal network was one of the key highlights to the achievement of target 3. She also said that the partnership on Measuring ICT for Development is currently focused on measuring ICT for SDGs.
By Ana Corrêa