Connecting the “other half” of the world i.e. 4 billion people was a resounding call to action echoed by more than 60 participants who came together in New York City at the annual fall meeting of the United Nations Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development.
President Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, and Co-Chair of the Broadband Commission said, “We are preparing to mark a new milestone where half of the world’s people are accessing the Internet. While this growth is not spread evenly across the world’s regions, it is nonetheless an encouraging development. With more people online, we need to think through how everyone can access the digital content safely and fairly.”
Carlos Slim, President of the Carlos Slim Foundation, America Movil and Co-Chair of the Broadband Commission said, “Governments and regulators need to make universal connectivity a main priority for sustainable development.”
Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), who serves as Co-Vice Chair of the Broadband Commission said, “This year saw the launch of our updated global broadband targets to bring online the world’s 3.8 billion people currently not connected to the Internet, at the Special Session in Davos in January attended by many of you, as well as Heads of UN agencies and industry CEOs. The Commission’s targets track some of the most important policy priorities in broadband, and will play an important role in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”
Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), who serves as Co-Vice Chair of the Broadband Commission said, “We are reaching an important milestone with half of the population online. But advantages of internet access are not shared equally. Access to Internet is not enough in itself to improve livelihoods. We must put emphasis on digital skills and knowledge.”
Three Working Groups of the Broadband Commission say Working Group on Digital Entrepreneurship, Working Group on Digital Health and Working Group on Epidemic Preparedness presented reports at the meeting.
The Working Group on Digital Entrepreneurship released the report Digital Entrepreneurship, which looks at the challenges and opportunities for using digital entrepreneurship to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
The Working Group on Digital Health launched the report The Promise of Digital Health: Addressing Noncommunicable Diseases to Accelerate Universal Health Coverage in Low- and Middle-Income Countries. The report provides practical recommendations and best practice examples for how policy-makers can use readily available digital technologies to address noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart and lung disease, cancer and diabetes.
The Working Group on Epidemic Preparedness launched the new report Preventing the Spread of Epidemics using ICT. The report provides practical recommendations and best practice examples for how policy-makers can use readily available and innovative ICTs to prevent the spread of epidemics such as SARS, MERS and Ebola.