More than 120 experts, from public and private sectors, policy-makers, the information and communication technology (ICT) industry and academia, met in Geneva on 1 October for a Special Session to discuss the role of ICTs in promoting inclusive and sustainable industrial development, and fostering innovation to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Special Session was organized jointly by ITU and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), in collaboration with the Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit (GMIS).
Held under the theme Technology and Innovation: Powering Connectivity for Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development, the session is part of a series of global events being organized ahead of the 2019 Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit to be held in Yekaterinburg, Russian Federation.
“This Special Session opens the door to a new level of collaboration between ITU and UNIDO to help countries advance their industrialization efforts, support the growth of small- and medium-sized enterprises, and to bridge the digital divide," said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “Investment in ICT infrastructure has never been more important. It is the cornerstone of today's digital economy."
“We are, today, in the Fourth Industrial Revolution where we see the growing convergence of traditional manufacturing processes with that of digital technologies," said Hiroshi Kuniyoshi, Deputy to the Director General, UNIDO. “Innovative technologies and advanced manufacturing processes such as 3D printing, artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, and wearable technologies, among others, are transforming existing markets, working methods and institutions."
“I am delighted that this Special Session is taking place during the ITU-D Study Group 2 Rapporteur meetings. Study groups represent a unique neutral platform where experts gather to produce innovative ideas and good practices for the benefit of all," said Brahima Sanou. “We are now in an era of digital transformation that is fundamentally changing our economies and societies and improving service delivery in many other sectors. Through ICTs we can deliver the promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development."
Namir Hourani, Managing Director of the Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit (GMIS), said, “Undoubtedly, advances in information and communication technologies and ICT infrastructure as a whole, are the backbone of what is now known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. However, without connectivity, none of the enormous benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution can be realized. We believe that this joint session with UNIDO, ITU and GMIS is the first step in our common endeavour to enable ICT to play its role in promoting inclusive and sustainable industrial development."
The Special Session had two expert panels. The first panel analysed how ICT connectivity and infrastructure development can help shape the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The panel also discussed enabling policies for bridging the digital divide and upscaling digital infrastructure, through multistakeholder partnerships including public and private actors in developed and developing countries.
The second panel exchanged views on how the Sustainable Smart City and Society concept can harness advanced technologies for monitoring and optimizing quality, performance, cost-effectiveness and resource consumption of services better than ever before.
Key findings of the Special Session include:
• Promoting cooperation and innovative partnerships is key to engage a broad range of stakeholders, including academia and small- and medium-sized enterprises, and to collate knowledge, information and data required for an inclusive and sustainable Smart City and Society.
• New and innovative technologies should be explored and embraced to promote digital connectivity and an inclusive sustainable industrial development.
• In fostering a dynamic national ecosystem for the Smart Society, a mix of a top-down government-led and bottom-up citizen-engaged approach is encouraged.
• There is need to define the roles, responsibilities and incentives for all stakeholders to ensure seamless cross-sector collaboration.
• It is important to develop measurable performance targets to assess progress and achievements made in promoting inclusive and sustainable industrial development.
• Continuous training and re-training of the workforce is crucial to meet the skill demands of the Smart City and Society.
The Special Session took place at the start of the ITU-D Study Group 2 Rapporteur Group meetings held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 1 to 11 October 2018.