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WSIS Forum 2023: Afternoon Sessions – Room A

March 14 @ 13:30 CET

High-Level Policy Session 2 : Enabling Environment

“An enabling environment at national and international levels is essential for the Information Society. ICTs should be used as an important tool for good governance.

The rule of law, accompanied by a supportive, transparent, pro-competitive, technologically neutral and predictable policy and regulatory framework reflecting national realities, is essential for building a people-centered Information Society. Governments should intervene, as appropriate, to correct market failures, to maintain fair competition, to attract investment, to enhance the development of the ICT infrastructure and applications, to maximize economic and social benefits, and to serve national priorities.

ICTs are an important enabler of growth through efficiency gains and increased productivity, in particular by small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). In this regard, the development of the Information Society is important for broadly-based economic growth in both developed and developing economies. ICT-supported productivity gains and applied innovations across economic sectors should be fostered. Equitable distribution of the benefits contributes to poverty eradication and social development. Policies that foster productive investment and enable firms, notably SMEs, to make the changes needed to seize the benefits from ICTs, are likely to be the most beneficial.”

High-Level Policy Session 4: Inclusiveness – access to information and knowledge for all / Bridging Digital Divides

Bridging Digital Divides

Globally, over 1 billion new Internet users have been added over the last five years. Yet under half the world’s people (3.7 billion) do not use the Internet. Many of them live in least developed countries (LDCs), landlocked developing countries (LLDCs), and small island developing states (SIDS).

According to the latest ITU data, 87% of people are using the Internet in developed countries, compared with 44% in developing countries. While virtually all urban areas in the world are covered by a mobile-broadband network, worrying gaps in connectivity and Internet access persist in rural areas. Globally, 72% of households in urban areas has access to the Internet at home, almost twice as much as in rural areas (38%).

Connectivity gaps in rural areas are especially serious in LDCs, where 17% of the rural population live in areas with no mobile coverage at all, and 19% of the rural population is covered by only a 2G network.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing digital divides between and within countries related to age, disability, gender, geography and socioeconomic status. With many essential services pushed online, there is a real and present danger that those without broadband Internet access could be left ever further behind.

For many people in the developing world, especially in LDCs, mobile telephony and Internet access remain unaffordable. The cost of broadband Internet access remains above the affordability target set by the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development – namely, 2% of monthly gross national income (GNI) per capita for a number of LDCs.

According to ITU’s latest data, in 84 or nearly half of the analysed set of countries, the cost of the data-only mobile-broadband remains above the 2% target, while fixed broadband access is unaffordable in 111 countries (56%).

This means that children and young people from the poorest households, rural and lower income states are falling even further behind their peers in terms of digital inclusion and are left with fewer opportunities to catch up, facing disproportionate exposure to poverty and unemployment.

Assessing investment requirements to bring about affordable universal connectivity is important to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In some regions, bridging the connectivity gap means mainly upgrading existing coverage and capacity sites. However, in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and East Asia/Pacific, nearly half of the necessary radio access network (RAN) infrastructure investments will be greenfield. [1]https://www.itu.int/en/mediacentre/backgrounders/Pages/digital-inclusion-of-all.aspx

We are also fully aware that the benefits of the information technology revolution are today unevenly distributed between the developed and developing countries and within societies. We are fully committed to turning this digital divide into a digital opportunity for all, particularly for those who risk being left behind and being further marginalized. https://www.itu.int/net/wsis/docs/geneva/official/dop.html

First Phase of the WSIS (10-12 December 2003, Geneva) Geneva Declaration of Principles

Inclusiveness, Access to Information and Knowledge for All

The ability for all to access and contribute information, ideas and knowledge is essential in an inclusive Information Society.

The sharing and strengthening of global knowledge for development can be enhanced by removing barriers to equitable access to information for economic, social, political, health, cultural, educational, and scientific activities and by facilitating access to public domain information, including by universal design and the use of assistive technologies.

A rich public domain is an essential element for the growth of the Information Society, creating multiple benefits such as an educated public, new jobs, innovation, business opportunities, and the advancement of sciences. Information in the public domain should be easily accessible to support the Information Society, and protected from misappropriation. Public institutions such as libraries and archives, museums, cultural collections and other community-based access points should be strengthened so as to promote the preservation of documentary records and free and equitable access to information.

Geneva Declaration of Principles, https://www.itu.int/net/wsis/docs/geneva/official/dop.html

High-Level Policy Session 6: Digital Economy and Trade/Financing for ICT

Digital Economy and Trade

Technology is supporting and changing how we organize our governing systems, our economies, and our
cultures in unprecedented ways. There are several opportunities for partnerships and collaborations between countries and private sector stakeholders. Other opportunities exist for research and development, country to country mentoring-which will ensure that experiences are shared, and no country is left behind. Other opportunities include challenging the status quo and finding new ways to find solutions to old problems. This can lead to new business models and a growing ecosystem of new ventures. Opportunities also exist for creative models to build awareness and educate the general public. [1] [1] WSIS Forum 2019 outcome report

Financing for the Development of ICTs

“We resolve to assist developing countries, LDCs and countries with economies in transition through the mobilization from all sources of financing, the provision of financial and technical assistance and by creating an environment conducive to technology transfer, consistent with the purposes of this Declaration and the Plan of Action”. Geneva Declaration of Principles, WSIS 2003.

Geneva Declaration of Principles, WSIS 2003, https://www.itu.int/net/wsis/docs/geneva/official/dop.html

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March 14
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