Information and communication technologies (ICTs)

Information and communication technologies (ICTs)There is growing global consensus that the Information and communication technologies (ICTs), and particularly Internet are providing a new framework and huge opportunities for economic, political and social development. The World Summit for Social Development (WSSD, Copenhagen, 1995) recognized that the new information technologies and new approaches to access to and use of technologies by people living in poverty can help in fulfilling social development goals; and therefore recognize the need to facilitate access to such technologies. WSSD emphasized that promoting access for all to education, information, technology and know-how is an essential means for enhancing communication and participation in civil, political, economic, social and cultural life, and for ensuring respect for civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.

The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), Geneva 2003 – Tunis 2005, the Copenhagen Declaration and Tunis Commitment all recognized that ICTs is a key to eradicate poverty and unemployment and the importance of building a people-centred, inclusive and developmentoriented Information Society, where everyone can create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge, enabling individuals, communities and peoples to achieve their full potential in promoting their sustainable development and improving their quality of life.

During the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, Governments recognized that ICTs are facilitating the flow of information between governments and the public. In this regard, it is essential to work towards improved access to information and communications technology, especially broadband networks and services, and bridge the digital divide, recognizing the contribution of international cooperation in this regard.

According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) 2015 ICTs figures, Internet penetration has grown from just over 6 per cent of the world’s population in 2000 to 43 per cent in 2015. Today, there are more than 7 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide, up from 738 million in 2000. Globally, 3.2 billion people are using the Internet, of which two billion live in developing countries.  Mobile broadband has overcome infrastructure challenges, enabling more areas to connect to the Internet. Its penetration rate increased fourfold between 2010 and 2015, reaching 47 per cent. ICTs have completely transformed the way people live, work and communicate. Their role is crucial for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Unfortunately, ICTs access and use are still unequally distributed within and between countries. The digital divide with respect to internet use, innovative capacity and quality access is particularly pronounced (according the 2015 MDG report). For instance, just over one third of the population in developing countries uses the Internet, compared to 82 per cent in developed countries and an estimated 450 million people living in rural areas still live out of reach of a mobile signal. There is still more work to be done for the  the development and use of ICTs infrastructure, as well as capacity-building, particularly in least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States, including rapid universal and affordable access to the Internet.

The Outcome Document adopted at the the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 13–16 July 2015) called for the establishment of a Technology Facilitation Mechanism to be launched at the UN summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda. The Technology Facilitation Mechanism will be based on a multi-stakeholder collaboration between Member States, civil society, the private sector, the scientific community, United Nations entities and other stakeholders and will be composed of a United Nations inter-agency task team on science, technology and innovation for the sustainable development goals, a collaborative multi-stakeholder forum on science, technology and innovation for the sustainable development goals and an online platform.


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