As it is now customary, we will be participating in this years’ WSIS review gathering in Geneva. But this time it seems to be a very especial occasion for three reasons: 1. UNGIS, led by ITU, is pushing hard to have another global gathering right after the new development agenda is endorsed by the UN in September 2015; 2. UNGIS is pushing very hard to have UNDP to become the lead co-chair for 2015; and 3. UNDP’s restructuring process which will be affecting this area of work as it will be “mainstream” throughout.
In any event, below is the speech that was delivered by the head of our Geneva Office earlier today at the opening of the meeting.
UNDP is honored to be with you today, and to be part of the effort to build inclusive and resilient societies as envisioned in the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).
At UNDP, we see the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) tightly linked to the creation and development of the information society espoused by WSIS.
While ICTs are indeed one of the 21 targets of the MDG agenda, let us bear in mind that back then, in 2000, ICTs where not available to many people, especially to those in developing countries. Let us recall that by the end of the last millennium, less than 10 countries in Africa for example were connected to the Internet and mobile phones were still in its infancy.
Today, we live in a very different world. ICTs — old, new and emerging — are now pervasive throughout the globe. As we deliberate on our vision for WSIS beyond 2015, we need to effectively capture this new reality and ensure that ICTs are seen as enablers for development – and not just infrastructure or technical platforms and tools. In fact, ICTs can be transformational catalysts for socio-economic and governance advancement.
One of the emerging trends we need to capture is the way in which new ICTs empower people: enabling them to reach millions in real time; connect and network with each other around common goals and values; and engage more effectively with public institutions.
New ICTs are also essential for governments as they foster transparency and accountability in the public sector and open government to all. People’s participation in public processes is also more feasible now, but governments need to enhance their own capacity to be responsive, open and mitigate conflict.
Indeed, at UNDP, we believe that WSIS beyond 2015 is a WSIS that complements the new sustainable development goals (SDGs). And the participation of those who will be the primary beneficiaries should be ensured in the design as well as implementation of these goals.
In this regard, and in collaboration with other UN agencies, we ensured that deliberations on the post2015 development agenda are as inclusive as possible. We indeed have crowdsourced the post2015 development agenda process — capturing the voice and aspirations of people all over the world using ICTs in innovative ways.
Through the online MyWorldSurvey, today over 2.2 million people have expressed their views on the post2015 priorities. Combined with global, regional, and national consultations assisted by the Internet and mobile technologies, more people were enabled to have a say in the determination of their own future.
UNDP’s vision for WSIS beyond 2015 therefore is WSIS deeply linked in efforts to achieve the development goals beyond 2015. Whatever goals the international community will agree on for post2015, we see WSIS remaining seized to offer transformational solutions to the complex and rapidly changing challenges of the 21st century.