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ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

International Conference on SIDS - 1994, Barbados

International Conference on SIDS - Barbados 1994

In April 1994, a Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States was held in Barbados. One hundred and twenty five (125) States and territories participated in the conference, 46 of which were Small Island developing States and territories. The special value of this Conference is that fourteen priority areas were elaborated into a Programme of Action which is now referred to as the Barbados Programme of Action(BPoA). The Barbados Programme of Action became the first-ever intergovernmental policy document to integrate the small islands into the world economy and tackle their particular socioeconomic development problems.

As follow-up to this landmark conference, the United Nations organized an International Meeting to Review the Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of the Small Island Developing States, that was held in Port-Louis, Mauritius from 10 to 14 January 2005. The major outcome document of the conference, the Mauritius Strategy was adopted. It highlights the plight of SIDS in terms of their exposure to disasters as they are located in some of the most vulnerable regions of the world. The Mauritius Declaration recognizes that international trade is "important for building resilience and the sustainable development" of SIDS, and calls upon the international institutions, including financial institutions to "pay appropriate attention to the structural disadvantages" of SIDS.

In direct reference to the role of telecommunications/ICT, the Declaration notes that telecommunications liberalization brought both opportunities and challenges. Despite its catalytic role in improving access to telecommunications, there are still serious access limitations to basic services resulting in part from the small size of the markets that have tended to prevent the maximization of the full value of liberalization through economies of scale. The declaration calls upon the international community and the International Telecommunication Union in particular to assist SIDS in attaining universal service through the development of community multimedia centres, improving ICT literacy, skill development, and the development of local content and applications for the benefit of society.

Special Focus on SIDS

ITU was active at the United Nations Mauritius International Meeting for SIDS. As one of its commitments, ITU undertook to help speed up the deployment of information and communication technologies to the small islands and also help these countries to put in place appropriate strategies and policies aimed at attracting investment into the ICT sector.

From Mauritius to Doha

Just over a year following the holding of the Mauritius Conference, ITU held its fourth World Telecommunication Conference in Doha Qatar. For the first time in the history of the ITU, SIDS were incorporated into a budgeted programme named: Programme for Least Developed Countries, Small Island Developing States, and Emergency Telecommunications. A number of SIDS have already benefited from concentrated assistance provided under this programme. In 2007 the following countries will receive concentrated assistance:

  • Sao Tome and Principe
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Marshall Islands
  • Tonga
  • Nauru

The assistance will be provided under three key priority areas:

  • Universal Access: To promote universal, ubiquitous, equitable and affordable access to ICTs for all people in both underserved rural and urban areas, in order to bridge the digital divide. Emphasis will be on rural telecommunication development, development of appropriate infrastructure and introduction of new technologies and services, ICT policies and strategies, and human resource development and training.
  • Rehabilitation and reconstruction of telecommunication infrastructure for countries in special need i.e. those coming out of disasters, civil strife, etc
  • Emergency Telecommunications This is a critical area especially for SIDS suffering from fragile economies. Article 40 of the ITU Constitution addresses the "priority of telecommunications concerning safety of life."

​Our Vision

​The Programme for the least developed countries (LDCs) and small island developing states (SIDS) and emergency telecommunications will be valued for its quality and timely service aimed at integrating LDCs and SIDS into the world economy through information and communication technologies (ICT) and through the implementation of disaster risk reduction measures in developing countries, and for its ability to exert a positive impact on the delivery of assistance to these countries.
  • The programme seeks to increase the average telephone density in LDCs and SIDS to five main lines (ML) per 100 inhabitants and the number of internet connections to 10 users per 100 inhabitants by 2010.
  • The programme promotes universal access to ICT in LDCs and SIDS, and provides assistance in disaster risk reduction to developing countries, with the aim of helping these countries attain internationally agreed development goals, such as the Millennium Development Goals, by the year 2015 .
  • The programme seeks to provide assistance in disaster prevention, preparedness and relief/response and telecommunication infrastructure reconstruction/rehabilitation in countries affected by disasters.

​ Strategy

A biennial approach in providing concentrated assistance to an average of 12 countries under this programme was adopted during the cycle 2003-2006. This same strategy will also be adopted for the next cycle 2007-2010, with an increased number of countries to include SIDS. Projects and operational plan activities are generally launched in the first year and completed either during that same year or during the second year. Activities that are funded by the regular budget are completed and evaluated during the second year in line with the ITU Financial Regulations, while projects that are funded by extrabudgetary funds may run beyond two years, depending on the set implementation period. The rest of the LDCs and SIDS not receiving concentrated assistance during a particular period benefit from funds set aside for ad hoc activities.​