Enhancing access to and security of ICTs beyond 2015

Article 4 image Post2015 event imageOn 18 November, UN DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) together with the Office for ECOSOC Support and Coordination (OESC) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) held a Special Event on “Implementing the Post-2015 Development Agenda: Enhancing access to and security of ICTs”.

The event was chaired by Ambassador Oh Joon, the Council’s Vice-President, and moderated by Ambassador J?nis K?rkli?š in his capacity as Chair of the Multi-stakeholder Advisory Group, Internet Governance Forum (IGF).

The panellists included Wu Hongbo, UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General; Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of ITU; Lynn St. Amour, President and Chief Executive Officer, Internet Matters; and Rima Qureshi, Chief Strategy Officer, Ericsson Group. Among the areas of focus were the impact of access to and security of ICTs on sustainable development, rethinking personal data and strengthening the trust of citizens online and the roles of multilateral organizations in building trust and security.

In his opening statement, Ambassador Oh stressed the importance of ICTs to achieving the three dimensions of sustainable development, while spotlighting the need to build confidence in security in an atmosphere where people expose themselves to data risks and privacy insecurity. Ambassador Karklins pointed to the increasing complexity of issues related to the vast expansion of the Internet, and noted how United Nations bodies, including the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly, had engaged with these issues.

Mr. Wu stressed the link between the new development agenda and ICTs and emphasized that there are both opportunities and challenges that the international community face to derive the full potential benefits from ICTs for the post-2015 development agenda. He also described ICTs application in commercial contexts as well as in humanitarian situations, and underlined the importance of data security as access increases especially considering first time Internet users from the developing world. It is vital to reduce or eliminate the factors inhibiting online interactions, he stated, noting that the estimated cost of cyber crime to the global economy is $400 billion annually.

“In the coming years, billions of devices will be connected to the “Internet of Things”, creating a digital network of virtually everything. For example, some private sector companies are helping to develop systems to enable communities directly affected by Ebola to fight it in Sierra Leone. Citizens can use SMS or voice calls that are location-specific to report Ebola-related issues to government, health agencies and others for tracking the disease”, Mr. Wu said.

Ms. Qureshi described Ericsson’s involvement in several technology-enabled projects that benefit people, business and society. Underscoring ways in which technology contributed to sustainable development, she highlighted a few examples, including remote schools, mobile health care, connected cars, smart meters, connected dams, and connected waste.

Ms. St. Amour said that approximately 3 billion people were online today, and multi-stakeholder self-governing networks were transforming the way the international community addressed global problems.  While access was improving, there was a long way to go to ensure no one was left behind.

Mr. Touré focused his comments on what had been done to implement the outcome of the World Summit on the Information Society and on the newly agreed Connect 2020 vision designed by the ITU.  Achievements were reviewed during the World Summit, notably efforts to improve online security through the global information society of 2007 and the Child Online Protection initiative of 2008.

An interactive dialogue followed the panellists’ presentations with representatives of Iran, Azerbaijan, Brazil and Germany commenting. The representatives asked questions about the potential impact of ICTs on environmental sustainability and on trust and security online. There were also questions about the private sector’s collection of personal data as commercial enterprises were only accountable to their shareholders, the speakers pointed out. Also considered was the benefit to development of new partnerships and cooperation in that field.

Ambassador Karklins concluded the event by summarizing some of the main conclusions and recommendations, including the need for ICTs to be widely included in the sustainable development goals, the importance of being sure that lessons learned from the WSIS outcomes inform the post-2015 development agenda, the need to preserve the free and open nature of the Internet, the importance of education when it comes to cybersecurity and building citizen’s trust online, sharing best practices amongst all stakeholders and cooperative public-private partnerships.

For more information:

Implementing the Post-2015 Development Agenda: Enhancing access to and security of ICTs