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BDT Director's Speeches

Digital Cooperation during COVID-19 and beyond, Webinar #2: Connectivity: Best Practices: What Works, What Doesn't
Virtual meeting  22 April 2020

​​​Webinar Series

"Digital Cooperation during COVID-19 and beyond"

Webinar #2: Connectivity: Best Practices: What Works, What Doesn't

Opening remarks of Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director, Telecommunication Development, ITU
(by remote participation)

09:30-11:00 New York/15:30-17:00 Geneva, 22 April

Good afternoon, good evening and good morning everyone.

A great pleasure to join my collegue and friend Undersecretary Fabrizio Hothschild for the second in this series of five webinars on global digital cooperation during the COVID-19 crisis.

Last week, we looked at the vital importance of undertaking connectivity assessments.

This week, we're going to dive into the issue ofbest practices; the actions and initiatives that the digital community is taking to keep us all connected, looking atwhat's working, and what has proven less successful.

COVID-19 is taxing global networks to the limit. Operators and platforms are reporting huge surges in traffic, as the world has transitioned almost overnight to online working, schooling, shopping and socializing.

We heard during a High-Level Dialogue yesterday organized by the World Bank, ITU, WEF and GSMA that some providers are reporting demand spikes as high as 800% - surge levels that would have surely quickly knocked out other kinds of infrastructure.

To its enormous credit, the global digital community is not only managing to keep networks and services available, but many operators are working to expand services to people who now need it more than ever.

Recognizing that digital resources were going to be absolutely critical in this crisis, we moved quickly to set up our REG4COVID platform to serve as a global repository of emergency actions that the digital community around the world is already taking to ensure the availability, accessibility and resilience of networks and resources.

The list of actions and initiatives is impressive and continues to grow.

We commend the outstanding spirit of camaraderie and collaboration of the digital stakeholder community that we have seen in this time of crisis.

We are all trying to play our part .. from the the Broadband Commission three-pillared Agenda for Action - a outlining immediate and medium-term actions governments and the digital community

To the ITU, WHO, UNICEF and global operators partnership to deliver health messaging via mobile phones to billions of people still lacking an internet connection.

To the GIGA partnership that ITU, UNICEF and many others on this have created to connect every school - and with more than 1 billion kids out of school this effort has taken on a new level of urgency to bring meaningful connectivity and key digital services like education, financial services and health information, not just to children, but to whole communities.

Last week, Mozilla's Mitchell Baker advised us 'not to waste a good crisis'.

In our discussions today, I'd like us to look a little further ahead, ……because 1st-response actions will be just one part of the story of harnessing digital to help the world weather this shock.

The media is warning of an economic impact equal to that of the Great Depression.

We will all be living with the fallout from COVID-19 for some time to come…

Our task today, therefore, is to look at whatdigital can do, not just to get us through this emergency, but to get the world back on its feet.

Will it be the same world as before?

We want to hear your views on how we might leverage this crisis to create an environment that is less focussed on profit, and more focused on protecting our planet, and its people.

So let's look at best practices relating to urgent actions.

But let's also try to coalesce our thoughts around a longer-term vision of how we can leverage the recommendations of the Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation to get our economies and societies back on track with the Agenda 2030 in focus,

In short, let's try to develop a plan of what we need to do in the aftermath of COVID-19 to rapidly bridge thedigital gap, to ensure that our societies, as well as our networks, are afforded the resiliency they need to flourish.

Thank you.


Digital Cooperation webinars