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Achieving the sustainable development goals through ICTs

Since 2005, peoples’ access to the Internet at home has doubled, with 46% of households being able to connect to the web today. With this rapid growth, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have been recognized as critical drivers to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Their positive impact on economic development has also been observed, where a 2% GDP increase can be seen for every 10% gain in broadband penetration in the developing world.

On 15-26 December, a more in-depth discussion on achieving the SDGs through ICTs will take place during a United Nations General Assembly high-level meeting in New York. This high-level meeting is convened to conduct an overall review of the implementation of the outcome of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS+10).

Attended by high-level representatives from governments, civil society and the private sectors, this meeting will address potential ICT gaps and areas for continued focus, as well as address challenges, including harnessing ICTs for development and bridging the digital divide.

ICT for development

Increased ICT connectivity, innovation and access have played a critical role in enabling progress in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Therefore, a close alignment between WSIS+10 and the SDGs should be recognized, highlighting the ICT’s cross-cutting contribution to the new goals.

“While we marvel at the rapid growth in the ICT sector, we must come to firm grips with the widening digital divides”

Wu Hongbo
UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General

“The rapid development of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and growth in global interconnectivity can play an increasingly important role in promoting economic and social progress in many parts of the world,” said Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, President of the UN General Assembly in his opening remarks during the WSIS+10 preparatory meeting earlier this year.

The upcoming two-day high-level meeting will provide an opportunity for extensive discussions on important issues in the implementation of the WSIS outcomes, including various development issues that can be enhanced by the efficient use of ICTs.

Bridging the digital divide

WSIS_genderdivideDespite the last decades’ achievement in ICT connectivity, there are many forms of digital divides still remaining – between and within countries, as well as among women and men. As of 2013, there are only 34% of people in developing countries who have Internet access, versus 80% in developed countries. And among women around the world, only 34% have Internet access.

“While we marvel at the rapid growth in the ICT sector, we must come to firm grips with the widening digital divides,” conveyed UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General Mr. Wu Hongbo in a message during the WSIS stocktaking session.

“In the modalities resolution of the General Assembly, this overall review process is expected to take stock of progress, address potential ICT gaps and areas for continued focus, including bridging the digital divide, and harnessing ICT for development,” Mr. Wu continued and further addressed the importance of overcoming ICT challenges for implementation of the SGDs.

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