HOW CAN UNIVERSAL CONNECTIVITY BE USED AS CATALYST FOR ACHIEVING THE SDGs?
The development community is united in the belief that connecting the unconnected, and enabling the universal deployment and uses of broadband services and applications, are vital for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Providing affordable and inclusive Internet access is both a major challenge - and top priority - for many governments, industry leaders, for Internet users and international organizations. Key considerations include on one hand: overcoming network infrastructure challenges; reviewing financing models; creating an enabling policy and regulatory environment; ensuring effective demand for connectivity and services; and monitoring the impact of connectivity on social and economic growth and environmental sustainability. On the other hand, a decade of research shows that the ‘digital dividends’ (World development report 2016) remain unharnessed, if challenges relating to women and men’ skills, the content in local language and policies are not addressed with a holistic approach to broadband deployment.
The UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, established by ITU and UNESCO, has been working diligently to showcase and document the power of ICT and broadband-based technologies for sustainable development, and giving guidance to key stakeholders on addressing the various challenges involved. Closer multistakeholder collaboration has also been identified as a key factor for ICTs to achieve its potential as a significant enabler, but for this to happen, the Commission has called for greater investment and more effective partnerships across different sectors, a stronger collaboration between existing initiatives and for investing also substantially in the enabling environment.
This Open Forum, convened by ITU and UNESCO, will bring together a number of key global stakeholders involved in connectivity initiatives to identify challenges and opportunities in their implementation, as well as identify synergies and areas for greater collaboration.
Moderator: Ms. Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Chief, Strategic Planning and Membership, ITU
Opening remarks: Mr. Frank La Rue, Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, UNESCO
- Mr. Indrajit Banerjee, Director, Knowledge Societies Division, UNESCO
- Mr. Manu Bhardwaj, Senior Advisor on Technology and Internet Policy, Global Connect Initiative (GCI), US Department of State
- Mr. Alex Wong, Head, Global Challenge Partnerships, WEF
- Mr. Paul Mitchell, Senior Director, Tech Policy, Microsoft
- Mr. Jose Ayala, Head of Government and Industry relations for Latin America, Ericsson