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June 22, 2020

Why WSIS is more important than ever

By Malcolm Johnson, ITU Deputy Secretary-General

The global COVID-19 pandemic has already caused nearly half a million deaths. Billions more are suffering or at risk as the crisis continues to wreak social and economic havoc worldwide.

The damage, however, could have been much worse without the power of information and communication technologies (ICTs).

During lockdown, ICTs have given billions of people around the world the ability to continue their work, studies, care of others and remain connected to loved ones.

Indeed, never before has there been so much reliance, appreciation and emphasis placed on the important role and capacity of ICTs.

At the same time, the COVID-19 crisis has underscored the urgent need for global digital cooperation.

We must use this momentum to build together the world we want to see: a world with smarter cities and villages, better climate monitoring, digital financial inclusion, and so much more – a world where no one is left behind and where opportunities have no boundaries.

It is now more urgent than ever that we leverage ICTs to connect everyone everywhere and achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

That is why the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) is more important than ever.

WSIS Action Lines

WSIS Action Lines are a key framework for progress on the achievement of SDGs.

ITU has been working with all WSIS Stakeholders to strengthen the alignment of the WSIS Process with the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

We have submitted contributions of ITU and the WSIS implementation activities to the UN High-Level Political Forum 2020 and will also be holding a side-event in collaboration with UN Group on the Information Society (UNGIS) members and Saudi Arabia.

WSIS Forum goes virtual

This week, we are pleased to launch this year’s WSIS Forum – the leading multi-stakeholder ICT for development event in the world.

I would like to thank all stakeholders for their support and commitment to this year’s WSIS Forum.

We are hosting the WSIS Forum 2020 in a virtual format, which will take place from 22 June onwards featuring a weekly programme, including a series of thematic/country workshops, high-level policy sessions, special tracks on various thematic areas, knowledge café, a Hackathon, and exhibition addressing issues that are critical to WSIS implementation and follow-up in a multi-stakeholder setting.

The final week of the Virtual WSIS Forum 2020 will take place from 7-10 September 2020, consisting of policy statements, interactive high-level dialogues, a WSIS Prize ceremony, a ministerial round table as well as a series of WSIS Action Line facilitation meetings.

Reaching more people than ever

Following the successful April launch of the virtual WSIS TalkX series of webinars – which highlighted our worldwide stakeholders’ response to COVID-19 using ICTs – we see this as an opportunity to scale WSIS Forum 2020 to a wider community and reach even more people

We are also encouraging regional workshops targeted towards a regional audience to be conducted in local languages.

This plurality of voices and ideas is the very essence of the WSIS community and the WSIS Process.

I would like to thank all stakeholders for their support and commitment to this year’s WSIS Forum.

We really appreciate your contributions to the WSIS Forum 2020 Open Consultation Process (OCP), which resulted in our agenda and programme. We received more than 300 submissions to the OCP from Stakeholders worldwide in the spirit of the theme of this year’s event: Fostering digital transformation and global partnerships: WSIS Action Lines for achieving SDGs.

WSIS Stocktaking

The WSIS Stocktaking, the international repository of good practices has more than 13,000 entries. It plays a crucial role in understanding how ICTs are contributing to economic, social, and environmentally sustainable development around the world.

The global WSIS Stocktaking 2020 Report, and the six Regional WSIS Stocktaking Reports, will be launched during the WSIS Forum 2020 in September.

Since the world was struck by the COVID-19 pandemic, this online platform has been collecting ICT projects and activities that can assist stakeholders meet the challenges it presents in their everyday life and work. So far, over 200 submissions have been received in response to the WSIS call for countries and international organisations to develop appropriate indicators and produce official statistics to monitor the Information Society, particularly in developing countries.

I have been encouraged to see such positive momentum for WSIS and I look forward to working with an ever-wider sphere of stakeholders to bring the benefits of today’s digital economy to everyone, everywhere.

I look forward to welcoming you to the WSIS Forum 2020!

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ITU is the United Nations' specialized agency for information and communication technology. Any opinions expressed and statistics presented by third parties do not necessarily reflect the views of ITU.

Why WSIS is more important than ever

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