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The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum is the world's largest annual gathering of the ‘information and communication technology (ICT) for development’ community. This session provided an opportunity for the participants to learn more about the WSIS Process. Mr Catalin Marinescu, Head, Corporate Strategy Division, International Telecommunication Union (ITU), started by introducing the WSIS forum 2018 which will be held during 19-20 March 2018 in the ITU headquarters in Geneva. The overall theme of the forum is liberating ICTs to building information and knowledge societies for achieving the sustainable development goals (SGDs). This reflects the outcome of the UN General Assembly overall review of the implementation of WSIS, which called for a close alignment between the WSIS process and SDG process, recognising that ICTs will play a crucial enabling role for the achievement of the seventeen SDGs. In addition, the WSIS forum serves as a key platform for discussing the role of ICTs as a means of implementation of SDGs. In 2018, the WSIS Forum will continue to support activities designed to encourage participation including workshops and presentations by young innovators.
Elaboration on WSIS Action Line Focal Point C9 Media was provided by Ms Xianhong Hu, Assistant Programme Specialist, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), who explained that UNESCO has been working on ICT related issues and has been supporting the implementation of this action in past years. In this regard, UNESCO conducts advocacy work at the international level on issues related to global weather. Other issues include human right-based Internet that is open and accessible by all, and an Internet driven by multistakeholders which could contribute to the creation of an inclusive information society. UNESCO also works with different sectors including governments, private sector, civil society, media, and academia to get them involved in the WSIS implementation.
Ms Scarlett Fondeur Gil , Economic Affairs Officer, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), mentioned that the WSIS forum is an on-going dialogue on the digital economy which is part of the UNCTAD mandate. For UNCTAD, the WSIS Forum is a channel to get inputs from relevant stakeholders other than governments, which is profoundly transforming our society. She also encouraged all stakeholders, including the youth, to provide their input and participate in the WSIS Forum.
Ms Gitanjali Sah (Coordinator, WSIS) provided more details regarding the set-up of the WSIS Forum. The forum includes High-Level Policy Sessions andworkshops: Action Line facilitation workshops andcontent workshops. The High-Level Policy Sessions are multistakeholder discussions where government, private sector, civil society, academia and international organisations are invited to register for speaking slots for their high-level officials by completing the speaking slot request form before the deadline. The WSIS Forum also includes the WSIS Prizes 2018, an international competition, developed in response to requests from the WSIS stakeholders, to create an effective mechanism for evaluation. It recognises different stakeholders for outstanding success in implementing development oriented strategies that leverage the power of ICTs as an enabler of the development.
The contribution of the United Nations to the WSIS process was further covered by Ms Minerva Novero-Belec, Policy Specialist, United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Regarding the action lines, UNDP seeks to advance the reflection on those topics of its perceived importance. In 2017, UNDP had two facilitators who joined the WSIS forum and focused on the role of the private sector in implementing WSIS and mobilising technologies for the SDGs. This provided the UNDP with input on the role and the readiness of the private sector to support the SDGs. In 2018, the UNDP is planning to organise two sessions on e-government and on resilience. During this year, the UNDP would also like to get input from the community on the interplay between the strategies on e-government and the plans to implement the SDGs, how governments can mobilise stakeholders and invest in issues that matter for the SDGs
By Noha Fathy