More than 2500 information and communication technology (ICT) experts and implementation actors contributed to and participated in the recent World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum 2018 to foster partnerships, showcase innovation, exchange best practices and announce new tools and initiatives to use ICTs to advance the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
From 19-23 March, over 250 content-rich workshops and open-space talks enabled on-site as well as virtual participants from over 150 countries to engage with more than 500 high-level representatives of the wider WSIS Stakeholder community, including more than 85 ministers and deputies, ambassadors; and leaders from the private sector, academia and civil society. Aligned with both WSIS Action Lines and the SDGs, this year's programme focused on highlighting the linkages between the two, including SDG priority areas such as health, hunger, education, youth inclusion, employment, gender empowerment, the environment, infrastructure and innovation.
WSIS Forum 2018 was chaired by H.E. Eng. Majed Sultan Al Mesmar, Deputy Director General of the United Arab Emirates' Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA). The forum was co-organized by ITU, UNESCO, UNCTAD and UNDP, in close collaboration with all UN agencies.
"As the lead UN agency for ICTs, ITU champions their power to transform and improve people's lives worldwide. This year's WSIS Forum demonstrated how ICTs can foster creativity and innovation to accomplish the Sustainable Development Goals. After nine years of engagement between all WSIS stakeholders, WSIS Forum remains the premier global platform to make ICTs a critical driver of global development," said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao.
The concrete outcomes of WSIS Forum 2018 will enable stakeholders to strengthen implementation of WSIS Action Lines and the alignment of the WSIS and SDG processes, and include among others:
- UN Group on the Information Society (UNGIS) reiterated commitment to the WSIS Action Lines implementation and alignment of the WSIS and SDG processes, with a UNGIS Joint Statement to be released during the high-level political forum 2018, at which time UNDP and ITU will become UNGIS co-chairs for the year 2018-2019.
- 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 pillars of the regional SDG Forums.
- Launch of the WSIS Forum 2018 Agenda mobile application developed by the University of West Indies and ITU.
- Ministerial Round Table participants emphasized the importance of the WSIS Action Lines framework as a key UN framework for work on the information and knowledge societies, and reiterated that many national digital agendas were built upon it. They applauded the WSIS Forum for creating global partnerships. WSIS Prizes were cited as an important global recognition of impactful ICT projects. The WSIS SDGs Matrix coordinated by ITU was highlighted as an important tool to map the missing links. The need for strengthened collaboration for building digital skills and ICT incubation programmes and fighting cyberattacks was highlighted.
- ITU and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization organized the Hack Against Hunger, which brought together 73 participants from countries across all five UN regions.
The forum also included the announcement of the WSIS Prizes 2018 winners and champions, which represented all seven continents and all five WSIS stakeholder groups. In addition, the winning entries of the WSIS Forum Photo Contest 2018 were unveiled, highlighting how ICTs are playing a vital, enabling role on the road to achieving the SDGs.
WSIS Forum 2018 was also an opportunity for partnerships to be forged and valuable tools and initiatives to be launched. The full list of Official WSIS Forum 2018 Outcomes, and the below information materials are available on the WSIS Forum 2018 website.
- WSIS Forum 2018: Outcome Document
- WSIS Forum 2018 High Level Track Outcomes and Executive Brief
- WSIS Action Lines Supporting Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (2018) will be available soon
- WSIS Stocktaking Report 2018
- WSIS Forum 2018 and SDG Matrix
- WSIS Stocktaking Success Stories 2018
- WSIS Forum 2018: Report - Implementation of WSIS Action lines for Eradicating Poverty and Promoting Prosperity in a Changing World
WSIS Forum 2018 was made possible through the generous support of its strategic partners – Platinum Partner: United Arab Emirates; Gold Partner: Saudi Arabia; Partners for Specific Activities: Japan, Rwanda, IEEE, Switzerland; Contributing Partners: Poland, Oman, ICANN, ISOC; Supporting Partner: IFIP and INWES.
Click here to view WSIS Forum 2018 videos, interviews and highlights: bit.ly/WSIS2018videos
Don't miss the WSIS Forum 2018 Photo Gallery: bit.ly/WSIS2018photos
For more information about the WSIS Forum process, please visit bit.ly/WSISForum2018