ITU works in all regions of the world and develops tailored programmes to allow everyone to access and use the Internet, especially by developing infrastructure for technologies and networks, and enhancing the regulatory and market environment.
The ITU membership's
Connect 2030 Agenda for Global Telecommunication/ICT Development sets out the shared vision, goals and targets that Member States have committed to achieve by 2030 in collaboration with all stakeholders across the ICT ecosystem. The agenda strives for five goals: 1) Growth – Enable and foster access to and increased use of telecommunications/ICT in support of the digital economy and society; 2) Inclusiveness – Bridge the digital divide and provide broadband access for all; 3) Sustainability – Manage emerging risks, challenges and opportunities resulting from the rapid growth of telecommunication/ICT; 4) Innovation – Enable innovation in telecommunications/ICT in support of the digital transformation of society; and 5) Partnerships – Strengthen cooperation among the ITU membership and all other stakeholders in support of all ITU strategic goals.
Every four years, ITU convenes the
World Radiocommunication Conference that reviews and updates the ITU Radio Regulations – the international treaty governing the global use of radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbits. The regular updating of the treaty enables countries to explore innovative ways to promote access to affordable technologies. The WRC agenda includes identifying new technologies and innovations have a positive impact on the lives of billions of people around the world and help bridge the digital divide by ensuring more people can get connected and benefit from the growing range of digital services.
ITU also convenes the
World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA) every four years, to define the general policy direction of the ITU Standardization Sector, to adopt high-quality international standards in the ICT field, and to ensure an inclusive standardization process that can support growth and innovation across a wide range of industry sectors and overcome development divides.
World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC) aims to help achieve the digital inclusion for all. ITU members and conference participants gather to discuss and consider topics, projects and programmes relevant to telecommunication development and to provide direction and guidance to the Telecommunication Development Sector.
To enhance the ICT regulatory and market environment for the digital inclusion of all, ITU has been convening the
Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR) every year since 2000. GSR brings together heads of national telecom/ICT regulatory authorities from around the world to share their views and experiences on the most pressing regulatory issues. Each GSR concludes with the adoption by regulators of a set of regulatory best practice guidelines.
In addition, ITU collects ICT statistics for 200 economies and more than 100 indicators to better understand challenges and to benchmark and measure progress on Internet use and mobile cellular and mobile broadband networks.
ITU raises awareness among consumers and policy-makers, and assists countries in developing the policies, legislation, regulations and business practices that promote the digital inclusion of all people. ITU carries out a range of work with governments, the private sector, civil society, academia and UN sister agencies and entities to reduce digital divides due to age, disability, gender, geography, skills and socioeconomic status:
Digital inclusion, regardless of age
ILO-ITU Digital Skills for Decent Jobs for Youth Campaign aims to mobilize the political will and resources to equip five million young men and women with job-ready digital skills by 2030 in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- Generation Connect seeks to engage global youth and encourage their participation as equal partners alongside the leaders of today's digital change, and to ensure their meaningful participation in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as to reduce the youth digital divide.
- The new 2020
Guidelines on Child Online Protection (COP) provide a comprehensive set of concrete recommendations for children, parents and educators, industry and policy-makers on how to contribute to the development of a safe and empowering online environment for children and young people.
- Launched by UNICEF and ITU,
Giga is a global initiative to connect every school and its surrounding community to the Internet, which has mapped over 800,000 schools in 30 countries. With this data, it works with governments, industry, civil sector, and private sector partners to craft compelling investment cases for blended public-private funding to build the connectivity infrastructure needed to deploy digital learning solutions and other services.
- As part of ITU's new Youth Strategy, whose goal is to reduce the youth digital divide, the
Generation Connect initiative seeks to engage global youth and encourage their participation as equal partners alongside the leaders of today's digital change, empowering young people with digital skills and opportunities. ITU is working to set up regional Generation Connect youth groups who will serve as communication platforms for young people in their respective regions, and will allow youth to share interests, concerns, and perspectives on digital transformation.
Accessibility and overcoming disabilities:
- ITU works to increase access to ICTs for persons with disabilities by raising awareness of their right to access ICTs, mainstreaming accessibility in the development of international ICT standards, and providing education and training on key accessibility issues.
guidelines on how to ensure that digital information, services and products are accessible by all people, including persons with disabilities, during COVID-19 highlight the key importance of accessibility of ICTs, given that they have become the primary medium for communications, information, transactions, education, and entertainment worldwide. To ensure that “no one is left behind" in the digital world, ITU Strategic Goal nr. 2 “inclusiveness" and its Target 2.9- calls on ITU Members to ensure that “By 2023, enabling environments ensuring accessible telecommunications/ICTs for persons with disabilities should be established in all countries".
resources on ICT accessibility (including online training courses, toolkits, and platforms for information exchange) are available to all ITU members, stakeholders and other relevant parties.
Reducing the gender digital divide:
Girls in ICT Day aims at creating a global environment that empowers and encourages girls and young women to consider studies and careers in the growing field of information and communication technologies. ITU members are encouraged to celebrate and commemorate International Girls in ICT Day on the fourth Thursday of April every year and to join the global movement by organizing programs, trainings, and activities to empower girls and young women through ICTs.
Global Partnership for Gender Equality in the Digital Age (EQUALS) is a multi-stakeholder initiative founded by ITU, UN Women, GSMA (Global System for Mobile Communications) , the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the United Nations University (UNU). It seeks to reduce the gender digital divide, achieve equal access to digital technologies for women and girls, empower them with skills to become ICT creators, and promote them as ICT leaders and entrepreneurs.
- ITU has launched
NOW4WRC23, an initiative to encourage and empower more women to participate actively at the next World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-23), to prepare women delegates in key roles for WRC-23, and to grow the ITU women's community in terms of contributions to the crucial conference and the technical field of radiocommunications, in general.
The Network of Women for the ITU Telecommunication Development Sector (NoW) encourages gender balance in the activities leading up to the 2021 World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-21). It seeks to build a community to support female delegates, expand their network, and advocate and share experiences and knowledge with other female delegates. It aims to promote the active participation of women in ITU activities and the tech sector in general.
Connecting all communities, including indigenous peoples:
- ITU has been working to achieve the
digital inclusion of indigenous peoples. It has organized a series of training programmes for indigenous leaders, having benefited more than 2,800 indigenous leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean.
Smart Village is a multi-stakeholder, cross-sectoral initiative that showcases how to cost-effectively accelerate the implementation of the SDGs in remote areas through an integrated development and technology platform model, and to drive sustainable rural development in agriculture, commerce, education, finance and health.
ITU and UN-Habitat partner to accelerate digital transformation of cities and communities, and to achieve sustainable and people-centred urban development, building on the
United for Smart Sustainable Cities (U4SSC), an initiative supported by 17 United Nations partners with the aim of achieving SDG11: “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable".
Promoting digital skills:
Digital Transformation Centres Initiative seeks to create a global network of centres to develop digital skills mainly at basic and intermediate level for citizens. The initiative contributes to the broader goal of building an inclusive digital society, and ensuring that lack of knowledge and skills is not a barrier to participation in the digital economy. The Initiative is currently operational in nine countries in Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America.
Bringing more people online, regardless of their socioeconomic status:
- 1.7 billion adults do not have a bank account, but among them, an estimated 1.1 billion have a mobile phone. The
Financial Inclusion Global Initiative (FIGI) brings together all stakeholders to advance research in digital finance and accelerate financial inclusion in developing countries. FIGI is led by ITU, the World Bank, and the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures (Bank for International Settlements), with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
ITU and the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) launched a cooperative project to leverage technology as a driver of entrepreneurial support for women in LDCs, namely in Burundi, Ethiopia and Haiti, in sectors such as textiles and apparel, and the coffee and cocoa value chains. In close cooperation with the Global Partnership for Gender Equality in the Digital Age (EQUALS), this project will work with key public and private stakeholders to address systemic issues that prevent women from accessing and using digital technologies and being the drivers of positive change that they can be.
Last update: April 2021