A significant stride forward was achieved last week by the information and communication technology (ICT) for development community at the World Summit on the Information Society Forum 2017 (WSIS Forum 2017), attended by more than 2,000 stakeholders from 163 countries. Participants came together to share experiences, knowledge and perspectives; and to announce new tools and initiatives to use ICTs to advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in such critical areas as ICT-centric innovation, accessibility, gender equality, youth empowerment, e-health and cyber security among many others.
WSIS Forum 2017 was held 12-16 June in Geneva, and included the participation of more than 85 high-level government and civil society representatives, as well as 500 remote interventions and thousands following the webcast. The forum was chaired by Mr Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Minister of Youth and ICT, Government of Rwanda, and co-organized by ITU, UNESCO, UNCTAD and UNDP, in close collaboration with all UN agencies.
"I congratulate the global WSIS community on another successful forum. The progress made here in Geneva last week – whether on providing five million youths with digital skills, improving digital accessibility, or giving countries the tools to advance their digitalization – will be felt around the globe. It was a clear demonstration of the important role that ICT plays in realizing the SDGs and improving livelihoods," said ITU Secretary General Houlin Zhao.
The concrete outcomes of WSIS Forum 2017 will enable stakeholders to strengthen implementation of WSIS Action Lines and the alignment of the WSIS and SDG processes. These actions included:
- UN Group on the Information Society (UNGIS) reiterated commitment to the implementation of the WSIS Action Lines and alignment of the WSIS and SDG processes. ITU was appointed as the Chair of UNGIS for 2017-2018, while UN Regional Economic Commission for Africa was appointed as the rotating Vice Chairman to strengthen the regional perspective.
- UN Regional Commissions committed to strengthen regional level WSIS action through multi-stakeholder platforms and a series of regional face-to-face meetings. It is anticipated that WSIS will be included in the UN Regional Coordination Mechanisms and WSIS4SDG will become one of the pillar of the regional SDG Forums.
- ICT4SDG mobile application built on WSIS Action Lines and SDG Matrix launched by the University of West Indies and ITU, strengthening the WSIS Stocktaking Process.
- Ministerial Round Table participants emphasized importance of WSIS Action Lines framework as key UN framework for work on the information and knowledge societies, and reiterated that many national digital agendas were built upon it. They also emphasized the value of the WSIS Forum as the only UN platform for exchanging best practices and advancing implementation of ICTs4SDGs. Many ministers also expressed continued support and strengthened commitment to the WSIS process.
- The Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development launched a Task Group on ICT for SDGs, which will prepare a thematic list of ICT indicators aimed to complement the monitoring framework for measuring progress towards the achievement of the SDGs.
WSIS Forum 2017 was also an opportunity for partnerships to be forged and valuable tools and initiatives to be launched. These include, among others:
- ITU, WHO and IEEE organized the first WSIS
Hackathon for eHealth, which brought together 42 participants from 16 different countries across all five UN regions, with diverse backgrounds ranging from computer science, mathematics and electrical engineering through to chemistry, epidemiology and business.
- ILO and ITU launched the
Digital Skills for Decent Jobs campaign to train five million young people in digital technology skills globally by 2030.
- ITU shared the new toolkit, Bridging the Digital Innovation Divide, designed to help countries develop a Digital Innovation Framework, a set of policies and projects that foster national innovation.
- ITU and its partners launched the second iteration of the
Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI), a survey that measures the commitment of Member States to cybersecurity in order to raise awareness.
- Advances were shared on the Global E-waste Statistics Partnership – an initiative to increase the availability and quality of e-waste data. This Partnership is made up of ITU, UN University and the International Solid Waste Association.
- Grenoble École de Management announced a forthcoming research project
Cybersecurity as competitive advantage for companies in line with the SDGs.
- ARM, a leading British multinational semiconductor and software design company, announced that it joined the ITU Be He@lthy Be Mobile initiative, and will strengthen its focus on using technology in support of the SDGs. focusing on chronic disease, and a wide variety of other issues, that affect low resource settings. The details of the programme will be launched in the context of the 2030Vision partnership, a U.N. wide initiative looking at how technology can support the achievement of all 17 goals.
- eWorldwide Group (eWWG) & Bangladesh Institute of ICT in Development (BIID) signed an agreement to collaborate on ICTs for SDGs.
- Learning Foundation announced two major initiatives: the #DigitalScholar education initiative to develop new skills and leadership for the digital transformation of learning; and the #DigitalScholar call for proposals to develop projects to tackle complex challenges around one or more SDGs.
- Ministry of Information and Communication from Japan presented equipment for emergency telecommunications to the Telecommunication Development Bureau of ITU.
- Call for nominations for the Equals in Tech Awards 2017 (formerly GEM-TECH Awards) was announced as open through 15 September 2017.
Plans were also made for engaging WSIS Forum 2018 activities including:
- FAO, ITU and IEEE announced that they will be jointly organizing a Hackathon against Hunger, in support of the forum's eAgriculture theme fro 2018.
- World VR Forum and ITU announced a strengthening of the popular VR component to include a VR showcase of schools in Africa and Switzerland, and several innovative displays showcasing the role of VR in development.
- TedX Geneva and ITU announced that they will again partner to present provoking speakers in 2018.
The forum also included the announcement of the
WSIS Prizes 2017 winners and champions, which represented all seven continents and all five WSIS stakeholder groups.
The following WSIS Forum 2017 information will become available this week, and will be accessible on the
WSIS Forum website.
- WSIS Forum 2017: Outcome Document
- WSIS Forum 2017: High Level Track Outcomes and Executive Brief
- WSIS Action Lines Supporting Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (2017)
- WSIS Stocktaking Report 2017
- WSIS Forum 2017 and SDG Matrix
- WSIS Stocktaking Success Stories 2017
- WSIS Forum 2017: Report – Implementation of WSIS Action lines for Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world
WSIS Forum 2017 was made possible through the generous support of its strategic partner, the World's Global Telecom; activity sponsors Japan, Switzerland and IEE; contributing partners the Office of Electronic Communications of the Republic of Poland, the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA), GeSI, ICANN, the Internet Society (ISOC), and VEON; and supporting partners, including the Philippines, IFIP, CMAI, TEMA India and Swiss Engineering.
Learn more about the WSIS Forum 2017 outcomes in this video interview with WSIS Coordinator Gitanjali Sah:bit.ly/WSIS2017-video-outcomes
View WSIS Forum 2017 photos:
View WSIS Forum videos, interviews and highlights:
For more information about the WSIS Forum process, please visit