Two Maasai men look at their cell phones in front of camels.
An invaluable mobile app helping Kenyan pastoralists beat the drought.
Photo:ITU

Accelerating Digital Transformation in challenging times

The COVID-19 crisis has not only highlighted the critical role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for continued functioning of societies but has also brought to the fore the startling digital inequalities between and within countries.

ITU Members have stepped up and engaged in activities that have proven essential in saving lives and sustaining economies. They have demonstrated their remarkable resilience in the face of challenging times.

At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the urgency of accelerating digital transformation and advancing the goals and targets of the Connect 2030 Agenda to leave no one behind.

WTISD 2021 is an opportunity for ITU membership to continue to push for digital transformation by promoting national strategies on ICT development, smart policies to encourage investments, cooperation, and partnership. ITU invites you to actively participate in commemorating the theme of WTISD 2021, "Accelerating Digital Transformation in challenging times", throughout the year with national, regional, and international initiatives to accelerate digital transformation.

An illustration of three people wearing facemasks looking at their phone screens

High-Level Event

Monday, 17 May, 13:00 to 14:30 (CET)

The WSIS Forum 2021 virtual event aims to highlight the need for enhanced cooperation on information and communication technologies (ICTs) and telecommunication, both between countries and across different sectors.

Background

The purpose of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) is to help raise awareness of the possibilities that the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICT) can bring to societies and economies, as well as of ways to bridge the digital divide.

17 May marks the anniversary of the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention and the creation of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

History

World Information Society Day

World Telecommunication Day 1969 poster

World Telecommunication Day has been celebrated annually on 17 May since 1969, marking the founding of ITU and the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention in 1865. It was instituted by the Plenipotentiary Conference in Malaga-Torremolinos in 1973 as Resolution 46.

World Telecommunication Day

In November 2005, the World Summit on the Information Society called upon the UN General Assembly to declare 17 May as World Information Society Day to focus on the importance of ICT and the wide range of issues related to the Information Society raised by WSIS. The General Assembly adopted a resolution (A/RES/60/252) in March 2006 stipulating that World Information Society Day shall be celebrated every year on 17 May.

World Telecommunication and Information Society Day

In November 2006, the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Antalya, Turkey, decided to celebrate both events on 17 May as World Telecommunication and Information Society Day. The updated Resolution 68 invites Member States and Sector Members to celebrate the day annually by organizing appropriate national programmes with a view to:

  • stimulating reflection and exchanges of ideas on the theme adopted by the Council
  • debating the various aspects of the theme with all partners in society
  • formulating a report reflecting national discussions on the issues underlying the theme, to be fed back to ITU and the rest of its membership
WTISD 2021 poster reading: Accelerating Digital Transformation in challenging times

ITU invites you to help accelerate the digital transformation in challenging times. Check out the advocacy toolkit and join the conversation. #DigitalTransformation.

Listen

A professional microphone and a title: ITU podcasts - Technology for good

Tune in to hear from digital transformation experts at ITU, and in Niger, Trinidad and Tobago, Kenya, South Africa and Estonia.

Resources

Useful websites

Documents

Related events

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When cyclone Harold landed on Vanuatu, the only communication channel some of its remote islands had was the satellite links ITU had helped establish. The satellite connectivity project demonstrated the importance of robust and resilient broadband digital infrastructure. The project aims to bring SDG-centred digital services to improve living conditions for island community members. ITU stands ready to continue its support to Vanuatu’s digital transformation journey.

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International days and weeks are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool. We also mark other UN observances.