Internet upgrade breathes new life into rural areas, new UN report finds

The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) released its World Social Report 2021 entitled Reconsidering Rural Development which explores how rural development can be reset to achieve sustainable development. The report sheds light on the rural-urban divide and pinpoints new approaches to help rural populations to reach the urban standard of living without having to migrate to urban areas. Some of these approaches include promoting new digital technologies, boosting the non-farm economy, and increasing investments in public services and rural infrastructure while protecting the health of the planet. In response to the report, UN Secretary-General António Guterres underscored how new technologies have unlocked opportunities for rural development, and a greener, more inclusive, and resilient future. ‘The experience of the pandemic has shown, for example, that where high-quality Internet connectivity is coupled with flexible working arrangements, many jobs that were traditionally considered to be urban can be performed in rural areas too,’ he noted.