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AI for Good Global Summit

Press Release

ICT stakeholders from around the globe convene for World Summit on the Information Society Forum 2018 in Geneva

The world’s largest annual multi-stakeholder gathering of the ICT for development community




Geneva, 20 March 2018

More than 2,500 information and communication technology (ICT) experts from around the globe will convene this week in Geneva for the World Summit on the Information Society Forum 2018 (WSIS Forum 2018). The WSIS Forum runs 19-23 March and represents the world's largest annual multi-stakeholder gathering of the ICT for development community. It is co-organized by ITU, UNESCO, UNCTAD and UNDP, in close collaboration with all UN agencies.

This year's forum focuses on sustainable development trends and inclusive ICT initiatives in key United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) priority areas such as health, hunger, education, youth inclusion, employment, gender empowerment, the environment, infrastructure and innovation. Participants are set to include at least 500 high-level policy-makers from 150+ countries, including government ministers and experts, civil society leaders, academics, business leaders and international organizations.

"In today's digital world, Internet access is imperative," said United Nations Secretary General António Guterres in his video message to participants during today's Opening Ceremony. "'Connecting the unconnected' is crucial to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is essential for sharing information, bringing people in from the margins and giving people a voice."

"The international community has committed to ensuring universal and affordable Internet access in least developed countries by 2020. I thank the World Summit on the Information Society Forum for promoting an inclusive process to meet this goal," Secretary-General Guterres added.  

This year's WSIS Forum marks 15 years since the first summit was held in Geneva, demonstrating that the foundations of a "just and equal information society" set by the Geneva Plan of Action in 2003 are still crucial to all WSIS stakeholders.

Acknowledging the 15 years of cooperation between all WSIS stakeholders to make information and communication technology a critical driver of global development, ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao said in his opening remarks. "Let's build on this momentum. The WSIS Forum is our common platform to foster partnerships, showcase innovation, and exchange best practices in the field of ICT for development through the implementation of the WSIS Action Lines."

The WSIS Forum has become a real demonstration of how the WSIS and SDGs processes are being aligned at the implementation level, building on the WSIS-SDG Matrix developed by UN WSIS Action Line Facilitators. An interactive mapping matrix is available that emphasizes the linkages between the Action Lines and the SDGs identified by WSIS.

The WSIS Forum 2018 agenda features more than 200 specialized workshops covering a wide array of topics identified through a participatory process with WSIS stakeholders. As part of this, there will be a special display of "ICT Solutions for SDGs" including drones for social development, robotics, artificial intelligence – and virtual reality for development sessions bringing together high-level personalities and world class virtual reality experiences. A Photo Contest Exhibit and TEDxGeneva event are also part of the full schedule of events.

Additionally, WSIS Prizes 2018 winners and champions are set to be announced during this week's event. WSIS Prizes recognize outstanding success in implementing development-oriented strategies around the globe that leverage the power of ICTs in support of the SDGs. This year, approximately one million online votes were cast for the 492 projects nominated out of 685 submitted.  

Yesterday, in advance of the official opening, coders took part in a special ITU/FAO-supported Hack Against Hunger focused on the development of ICT solutions to end world hunger.

This year's WSIS Forum is generously supported by:
  • Platinum Partner: UAE;
  • Gold Partner: Saudi Arabia;
  • Partner for Specific Activities: Japan, Rwanda, IEEE, Switzerland;
  • Contributing Partners: Poland, Oman, ICANN, ISOC;
  • Supporting Partner: Swiss Engineering.
Participation in WSIS Forum 2018 is free and open to all, though advance registration is required for security purposes. Please register as soon as possible at: bit.ly/WSIS-2018-Register

For more information, please visit bit.ly/WSIS-2018