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ITU Session on “Digital Partnerships for a Sustainable and Resilient Recovery from COVID-19” @ UN HLPF on Sustainable Development 2021

​The High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) is the core United Nations platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. It provides the opportunity for full and effective participation of all Member States of the United Nations and Specialized Agencies.

Within this framework, International Telecommunication Union organized a special Side-Event session on “Digital Partnerships for a Sustainable and Resilient Recovery from COVID-19", that was held on 6 July 2021 from 13:00 to 14​:30 EST (19:00 – 20:30 CEST).

In its capacity of United Nations specialized agency for Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), the International Telecommunication Union has a broad mandate to Connect the unconnected, create an enabling environment for ICTs and promote digital transformation through innovation. Through the regular work of its three sectors, and by facilitating partnerships development, ITU is a unique witness of the power and cross cutting nature of ICTs for sustainable development. This has been even more evident since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

An enormous range of social and economic activities have shifted from face-to face to online in a remarkably short period of time. Unfortunately, this huge shift has only been possible for those who are connected. According to the ITU, still 3.7 billion people remain unconnected to the Internet and more than two thirds of the world's school-age children have no internet access at home. This highlights the urgent need to address the global digital divide, and provide accessible and affordable connectivity to all on social, economic and egalitarian grounds.

This Session was aimed at raising awareness of the sustainable development community about the concrete role ICTs played for a robust recovery from the global pandemic and how increased cross-sectoral partnerships were needed to ensure a meaningful digital transformation that worked for all. 

The Session brought together ITU Members from various regions to showcase and discuss success stories and strategic partnerships such as Giga, Connect to Recover (C2R), Financial Inclusion Global Initiative (FIGI), Policy and Regulation Initiative for Digital Africa (PRIDA), GovStack, and EQUALS. The session also featured a youth representative of the Generation Connect Visionaries Board.​

Panellists discussed how to strengthen, replicate and scale up such initiatives to fulfil the objectives of the Connect 2030 Agenda and accelerate the achievement of SDGs by 2030 with a result-based and impact-oriented approach.