ITU wins engagement award for online meetings and participation
Last year saw a massive shift of the economy and our lives to the digital sphere – at least for those who were able to be online. This abrupt shift was no different for the United Nations and ITU, as the UN specialized agency for information and communication technologies (ICTs) was quick to use its in-house expertise to adapt our tools and processes to this new digital reality. Yesterday, the Geneva Internet Platform and DiploFoundation recognized ITU’s efforts at the 6th Geneva Engage Awards, where our organization won the ‘Online meetings and participation’ category.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, ITU built on its position as an ICT leader within the UN family to enable our events and meetings to transition online.
It turned out that online meetings have proved to be more inclusive than physical ones.
ITU was also quick to act by helping governments and the ICT industry leverage digital technologies to respond to and recover from COVID-19, and to build resilience for future challenges.
2020: A year of firsts
While accomplishing many firsts in 2020, ITU continued to deliver on its core competencies – from harmonizing the use of the radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbits to developing international technical standards to assisting developing countries with digital development. For example, held its first fully virtual ITU World Radiocommunication Seminar (WRS-20) – also open to the public during the first week for the first time ever. Held twice daily to accommodate participants in different time zones, 2,183 participants from 159 countries learned about regulatory aspects of radiocommunication, and how to use radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbits equitably. In March 2020, the ITU Standardization Sector made history by facilitating the first-ever fully virtual ITU statutory event by deploying the in-house customized MyMeetings platform, which has increased participation significantly. ITU also launched the Global Network Resiliency Platform (REG4COVID) to help regulators, policy-makers and other interested stakeholders address the load – and stress – being placed on networks in the wake of COVID-19 and ensure communities remained connected. We also organized our first virtual WSIS Forum 2020, which garnered a great deal of interest and excitement from all regions of the world. Another first: the most highly attended WSIS ever with over 15,000 participants from around 150 countries. In partnership with the government of Viet Nam, ITU held Virtual Digital World 2020. And the AI for Good Global Summit has made the leap to become a year-round, always online event.
Security and collaboration
With this new surge of online activity, cybersecurity is more important than ever before.
ITU launched a cybersecurity repository (CYB4COVID) to help our Membership respond to new threats.
We also took an active part within the United Nations Information Security Interest Group (UNISSIG) and developed Guidelines and Best Practices for Virtual Events and Remote Participation that were shared within UN High Level Committees on Management (HLCM) members. None of this work would have been possible without the support and highly valued contributions of our global and diverse Membership, which brings together 193 countries and over 900 private sector companies, academia, and international and regional organizations – as well as all those who have engaged with ITU during this time. The pandemic has highlighted the significance of digital technologies in people’s lives worldwide, but also deepened digital inequalities. ITU is resolved to continue its work to make sure nobody is left behind and all can benefit from the ongoing digital transformation of our world. Receiving this award in recognition of this is a huge inspiration for all of us at ITU to strengthen our mission by bringing ITU events and meetings to everyone, everywhere.