The International Telecommunications Union (ITU), played host to the World Summit on the Information Society WSIS Forum 2015, providing access both on site and through webcasts during the week of 25-29 May in Geneva. This year the meetings were very well attended, attracting record numbers of participants totaling more than 1800 from over 140 countries. There is a long list of co-sponsors among UN agencies. Chief among them are the ITU, UNESCO, UNDP and UNCTAD. The opportunities to learn, share and network at the Forum were far reaching, with numerous panel discussions daily featuring presenters from IGOs, NGOs, businesses, governments and academia.
So what were the main issues and policy recommendations of WSIS 2015? The Forum was organized into two segments — a High Level “track” that addressed matters of innovation, partnerships and the link between ICTs and the Global Sustainable Development Agenda; and a Forum Track that promoted collaborative efforts by all stakeholders to participate in the implementation of WSIS outcomes.
The High Level dialogue zeroed in on the four (out of 17) Sustainable Development Goals of the Post 2015 Development Agenda in which ICTs have been specifically identified as playing a key role, namely: education; gender empowerment; the building of resilient infrastructure, promotion of inclusive and sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation; and more generally as an overall facilitator for achieving all of the SDGs. Presenters in the High Level dialogue pointed to several key ingredients in the recipe for success: localized implementation; openness and inclusiveness; focused review and monitoring of goals with ICT elements; and universal and affordable access. Yet ensuing discussions were more sweeping, with many participants and intervenors pointed to the myriad ways in which ICTs can, do and will play a significant role in achieving virtually all of the SDGs. A matrix showing the interlinkages between WSIS and ITU action programmes and the SDGs can be found here.
Indeed, the theme for the WSIS Forum 2015 was “Innovating Together: Enabling ICTs for Sustainable Development”. The Forum Track meetings included over 150 sessions during the course of the week, focusing on innovation, partnering, gender empowerment, accessibility, cybercrime, cybersecurity, privacy, openness, and governance, with a broad range of subsets for many of these categories. The webcasts for many of these meetings are archived on the ITU website. They can be found here.
From the CMMD Geneva Observer 1 June 2015