Sneak preview: 2021 World Telecommunication/ICT Policy Forum

A general view during the Strategic Dialogue. 13 May 2013. Photo ITU/ Jean-Marc Ferré A general view during the Strategic Dialogue. 13 May 2013. Photo ITU/ Jean-Marc Ferré

As the world’s reliance on information and communication technologies (ICTs) rises to unprecedented levels, so does the need for global dialogue on the challenges and opportunities of digital transformation.

The Sixth World Telecommunication/ICT Policy Forum (WTPF-21) – set to take place from 16 to 18 December at the International Conference Center (CICG) in Geneva, Switzerland – will highlight how new and emerging technologies can drive sustainable development across countries and regions worldwide.

Hosted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), this will be among the first prominent United Nations gatherings held in Geneva since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“WTPF-21 will help foster sustainable development and craft policies that give everyone access to technologies that are safe, attractive and affordable,” says ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao.

“What is at stake is the ability to build the infrastructure and policy models required to connect those who remain unconnected and drive the development of emerging technologies that are central to the digital economy.”

Where policy meets technology

All over the world since early 2020, the pandemic has prompted the decisive surge in reliance on ICTs for business, health, work, education and social purposes.

In a possible indication of future hybrid meeting formats, WTPF-21 will also welcome and actively engage remote participants.

Forum discussions will focus on policies for mobilizing new and emerging telecommunications/ICTs for sustainable development and span a range of ground-breaking technologies and services, including artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, big data, and over-the-top (OTT) services.

Strategic dialogue

Kicking off WTPF-21 will be a strategic dialogue on the theme “Emerging Technologies: Driving sustainable development,” moderated by BBC Click’s LJ Rich, which will feature thought leaders and artists exploring the theme through unique perspectives and media.

It will also include an expert panel discussion led by Secretary-General Zhao combining insights from leaders of government and industry on charting a sustainable digital future.

A consensus-driven approach

Discussions at WTPF-21 will centre on the Secretary-General’s report, which includes a set of non-prescriptive policy documents (“Opinions”) intended to be adopted by consensus by the Forum.

The Report brings together a set of draft Opinions developed by more than 170 experts, who have consulted regularly since September 2019 on ways to mobilize tech for sustainable development.

Key policy issues identified by the informal consultation group in the draft Opinions include:

  • The use of telecommunications and ICTs during COVID-19 and for future pandemic preparedness and response
  • Initiatives aimed at improving ICT education, building digital skills, and improving digital literacy
  • Enabling policies to harness opportunities and address challenges related to new and emerging technologies at the national, regional and international levels
  • Investment in infrastructure, especially broadband and 5G, which can promote affordable connectivity and mobilize new and emerging ICTs for sustainable development.
Why join WTPF-21
Forum discussions will feature high-level delegates from ITU Member States, representatives from companies and institutions belonging to ITU’s Radiocommunication, Standardization and Development sectors, as well as representatives from UN agencies, civil society, academia, the media, and other interested participants.
Registration and participation are open to all.

WTPF-21 offers the opportunity to engage with top-level decision-makers on the global digital transformation. In-depth debates aim to illuminate the international public policy process driving the evolution of new and emerging technologies.

 

Learn more and register for free here.