What is WTPF-21?

The sixth World Telecommunication/ICT Policy Forum (WTPF-21) is a high-level international  event where ITU Members and other stakeholders come together to exchange views on the key policy issues arising from today’s fast-changing information and communication technology (ICT) environment.

Organized by ITU, the Forum is designed to foster debate, develop fresh insight, and build multistakeholder consensus expressed in the form of “Opinions” illustrating a shared vision to guide ongoing global ICT policies, standardization and development efforts worldwide.

The Forum offers a unique opportunity to join top-level decision-makers from around the world for in-depth debates on the international public policy issues that are driving the evolution of tomorrow’s networks and services.

The theme of WTPF-2021 is “Policies for mobilizing new and emerging telecommunications/ICTs for sustainable development: The WTPF-21 would discuss how new and emerging digital technologies and trends are enablers of the global transition to the digital economy. Themes for consideration include AI, IoT, 5G, Big Data, OTTs etc. In this regard, the WTPF-21 will focus on opportunities, challenges and policies to foster sustainable development.”

New and emerging technologies have the potential to contribute towards the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. If leveraged correctly, they can help address issues across diverse sectors such as health, education, employment, environment, transportation, agriculture, nutrition, disability, youth empowerment, social inclusion, gender equality and poverty reduction. However, this transformative potential comes with both significant opportunities and complex policy challenges in various social, economic, technical, environmental and developmental fields.

Policy-making in this respect is critical for facilitating efforts, particularly in developing and least developed countries. Key considerations for policy makers include infrastructure needs, investment, regulatory environment, training and skills development, market environment, institutional cooperation, the role of development aid etc. 

The Forum will welcome the full participation of high-level delegates from ITU’s 193 Member States and over 900 Sector Members to frame together the “opinions”. WTPF-21 is also open to representatives from UN agencies, civil society, associates, academia, the media and the general public.

Where and when will the WTPF-21 take place?

The sixth World Telecommunication/ICT Policy Forum will be held in the Geneva International Conference Center (CICG) in Geneva, Switzerland, over three days on 16-18 December 2021 with extensive remote participation.

Why is the WTPF-21 important and what will it achieve?

Since the fifth WTPF in 2013, the ever-accelerating pace of technological change is creating new opportunities, as well as new challenges.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also led to an unprecedented surge in the use of ICTs. It has been called the ‘great accelerator’ of digital transformation, with technology at the forefront of countries’ response to the crisis.

The global nature and impact of the digital transformation means that global dialogue is now more important than ever.  Convened at the request of ITU’s Member States, WTPF-21 presents an opportunity for dialogue to listen to the perspectives of others, debate the issues as you see them, and build a spirit of cooperation and improved understanding.

The Forum will enable all stakeholders to contribute their unique perspective to the discussions, based on their roles and responsibilities within the digital ecosystem.

Where and when will the WTPF-21 take place?

The sixth World Telecommunication/ICT Policy Forum will be held as a fully virtual event on 16-18 December 2021.

Who can participate and attend WTPF-21?

WTPF-21 is open to all ITU members. As with previous WTPFs, ITU will strive to be as flexible and inclusive as possible in the participation and attendance practice for WTPF-21.

ITU, the UN specialized agency for ICTs, has members from across government, private sector, civil society and the research and academic communities. We actively encourage all ICT-related organizations dealing with issues related to telecommunications and ICTs to apply for ITU membership, including technology related NGOs.

What are the WTPF-21 proceedings?

The ITU Secretary-General’s Report serves as an input background document to stimulate discussion at the Forum. It includes inputs and contributions from experts from all stakeholder groups and was developed through an open and inclusive preparatory process (which included seven meetings of the Informal Expert Group, convened in Geneva from 2019-2021, and over 70 written contributions). All WTPF-related documents are open to the public.

Participation in the IEG was open to all stakeholders. Around 175 experts from all stakeholder groups were members of the IEG.

WTPF-21 will debate the draft Opinions (currently under preparation) and possibly converge on approved, non-binding Opinions, which would guide the ongoing policy-making, technical standardization and development efforts within ITU and at a broader international level.

Where can I learn more about the topics under discussion at WTPF-21?

ITU’s in-depth briefings on critical issues and technologies​, including thematic backgrounders relevant to topics being discussed at the Forum, are available here.