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WSIS Forum welcomes largest-ever gathering of
‘ICT for development’ community

Over 1,700 international delegates gather in Geneva ahead of launch of
WSIS+10 Overall Review in New York on 1 June

Geneva, 25 May 2015 – Ten years after the UN World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), participants from government, civil society, the private sector and international organizations are meeting in Geneva to identify emerging trends, fresh priorities and innovations for advancing the ‘ICT for development’ agenda, while strengthening the impact of ICTs as an enabler of sustainable development.

Hosted by ITU together with co-organizers UNESCO, UNCTAD and UNDP in close collaboration with the UN and sister agencies including WIPO, UNDESA, FAO, UNEP, WHO, ILO, WMO, ITC, UPU, UN Women, WFP, UNODC and the UN Regional Commission,  the WSIS Forum 2015 event (25-29 May) is the world’s largest annual gathering of the ‘ICT4D’ community.

The WSIS Forum is the unique global platform for multi-stakeholder coordination of implementation of WSIS-related activities, projects, and initiatives. It aims to define strategies and tactics to help countries and organizations more effectively harness the power of ICTs to meet new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This year’s Forum is a diverse and dynamic platform built on two tracks: a High-Level Track, including diplomatic-level policy statements, a WSIS prize ceremony recognizing grassroots innovations in the field of ICTs for social good, and a Ministerial Round Table; and a Forum Track consisting of High-Level Dialogues, Action-Line Meetings, Country- and Thematic Workshops, and Knowledge Exchanges, as well as an exhibition in the ground floor area of the ITU Montbrillant building.

Key topics on the agenda include innovation, accessibility, gender empowerment and mainstreaming (Beijing+20), sustainable development (‘Post-2015 Agenda’), cybersecurity, and WSIS beyond 2015 (WSIS+10).

Over 1,700 representatives from around 140 countries, including over 120 government ministers, ambassadors and heads of agencies, are expected to attend the week-long event, which consists of some 140 different sessions.

Guest speakers at the High-Level Segment, which will take place on the morning of Tuesday 26 May, include:

  • Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary-General (video message)
  • Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General, ITU
  • Visionary Speech: Majed El Mesmar, Deputy Director General, Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, UAE (Strategic Partner, Platinum)
  • Francis Gurry, Director General, WIPO
  • Getachew Engida, Deputy Director General, UNESCO
  • Mukisha Kituyi, Secretary-General, UNCTAD
  • Neil Buhne, Director, UNDP Office in Geneva
  • Philipp Metzger, Director General, OFCOM, Switzerland (Host of the First Phase of WSIS in 2003)
  • Noaman Fehri, Minister of Communication Technologies and Digital Economy, Tunisia (Host of the Second Phase of WSIS in 2005)
  • Thomas Luhaka Losenjola, Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Posts, Telecommunications and NTIC, Democratic Republic of Congo (Strategic Partner, Gold)
  • John E. Davies, Vice President, World Ahead Program, Intel Corporation (Strategic Partner, Gold)
  • Cyril Ritchie, President Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations (CoNGO)
  • Joseph Alhadeff, Chairman International Chamber of Commerce Commission on the Digital Economy (ICC)

The High-Level Segment will be chaired by Magdalena Gaj, President of the Office of the Electronic Communications, Republic of Poland. A full list of speakers is available here.

The High-Level Segment of the event on Tuesday morning will also feature the awarding of 18 WSIS Project Prizes to organizations which have demonstrated outstanding results in implementing projects and strategies to meet the WSIS targets and promote digital inclusion. A full list of awardees and descriptions of their projects is available here.

Some 140 policy statements will be presented on Days Two and Three of the five-day event – an extremely important component of this year’s event in the context of the WSIS+10 Overall Review, giving world leaders the opportunity to emphasize their commitment to ensuring ICTs play a key role in driving development and innovation at the community level.

This year’s event will also feature a Ministerial Round Table welcoming Ministers from more than 60 countries. The session will provide a platform for interactive debate on the trends, challenges and opportunities in the ICT ecosystem, with the aim of strengthening the impact of ICTs on sustainable development. It will also provide the opportunity for discussion on synergies between WSIS and the Post-2015 Development Agenda. A WSIS-SDG Matrix, elaborated by UN Agencies and coordinated by ITU, will be launched during the high-level meeting of the UN Group on the Information Society (UNGIS). The matrix, with will be continually updated, is currently the only reference tool for diplomats working on designing the future of SDGs and WSIS beyond 2015. More information on the WSIS-SDG Matrix is available here.

Unique opportunities to network and engage

WSIS Forum 2015 High-level Dialogues on Tuesday 26th, Wednesday 27th and Thursday 28th will cover:

  • Post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals & WSIS Action Lines
  • Making Empowerment a Reality: Accessibility for All
  • Innovation in ICTs for Sustainable Development
  • Building Trust in Cyberspace – Working Together
  • Empowering Women to Innovate Through Technology

Full details of the timing and venue of these and all WSIS sessions is available here.

Encompassing an increasingly popular exhibition component, the Forum Stream offers delegates a diverse range of meetings and activities covering an exceptionally broad span of ICT-related topics. Afternoon sessions each day will also feature the release of new publications and briefings from participating organizations.

The WSIS agenda is the result of a comprehensive open consultation process involving all stakeholders. Spanning five phases, this year’s process welcomed 130 contributions from 50 countries.

Remote participation is an integral component of the event. Each session can be joined remotely at: www.itu.int/net4/wsis/forum/2015/About/RemoteParticipation.

Live and archived webcasts of key sessions can also be viewed at www.itu.int/net4/wsis/forum/2015/Agenda/Webcast/Live.

This year’s WSIS Forum programme has been strengthened thanks to the strategic partnership and contribution of the United Arab Emirates (platinum partner), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (gold partner) and Intel Corporation (gold partner). The Forum has also benefited from contributions by partners including Japan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Switzerland, and Contributing Partners Poland, Rwanda, ICANN, the Internet Society, and the International Federation for Information Processing.

Photos of the event are available on Flickr: http://bit.ly/1Lzv1kY

Watch video highlights and interviews with key participants on ITU’s YouTube channel: http://bit.ly/1ITsMKV

Follow all the action and join the conversation at this year’s WSIS Forum on Twitter at #WSIS.

For more information, please contact:

Sarah Parkes
Chief, Media Relations and Public Information
tel +41 22 730 6135
tel +41 79 599 1439
tel sarah.parkes@itu.int 
Jaroslaw Ponder
Strategy & Policy Advisor, ITU
tel +41 22 730 6065
tel +41 79 599 1405
tel jaroslaw.ponder@itu.int  


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