UN Broadband Commission calls for new connectivity targets to support SDGs

The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development’s on 13 March agreed on the need for a new set of connectivity targets to help governments harness broadband networks and services more effectively to meet the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established by the UN last autumn.

This was decided in Dubai during the meeting, 12 and 13 March, of the 62-member Broadband Commission, established by UNESCO and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in 2010 to promote connectivity for public benefit. The Commission is chaired by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Mexico’s Carlos Slim Helú.

“The world is going through a staggering confluence of emerging technological breakthroughs that can open vast new horizons for growth and development,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, who serves as co-Vice Chair of the Commission alongside ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao.

“There remain 1.3 billion people without electricity today, and over four billion people without access to the Internet. Access and connectivity are absolutely crucial for societies across the world,” she said.

Debates in Dubai focused on the need for new targets to measure the utilization of selected broadband-enabled public services. They called for improved statistical indicators to gauge broadband access accurately and methodologies to generate accurate, reliable measurement.

Commissioners also highlighted the importance of developing National Digital Scorecards to measure countries’ progress in achieving broadband targets.

The Commission’s 60+ leaders and experts from government, UN agencies, civil society and a broad spectrum of business sectors will now formulate concrete, measurable broadband connectivity goals, which will be submitted to the next full meeting of the Commission in New York in September.

“Agreement on new targets in September would serve as the next stepping stone to the Commission’s vision of broadband for all,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “Broadband represents a powerful way to accelerate progress towards the attainment of the 17 SDGs, and new broadband networks and services will play a key role in the delivery of education, healthcare and basic social services, particularly for chronically disadvantaged communities,” he said.

The latest edition of the Commission’s State of Broadband report, released last September, showed that broadband Internet is failing to reach those who could benefit most, with 57% of the world’s people still offline and unable to take advantage of the enormous economic and social benefits the Internet can offer.

The meeting of the Commission in Dubai was held at the invitation of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and Broadband Commissioner Sunny Varkey. It complemented a joint ITU/UNESCO Policy Forum held during UNESCO Mobile Learning Week, which brought together government ministers in charge of ICT and education to examine policies and cross-sectoral collaboration to foster innovation and the use of mobile technology to improve the quality, equity and accessibility of education.

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Photos of the 13th full meeting of the Commission can be downloaded from Flickr at: http://bit.ly/1QHhw7r.

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For more information, please contact:

For ITU

Sarah Parkes

Chief, Media Relations & Public Information

Mobile: +41 79 599 1439
E-mail: sarah.parkes(at)itu.int 

For UNESCO

George Papagiannis

Chief, Media Relations (a.i.)

Mobile: + 33 6 82 94 89 54
E-mail: g.papagiannis(at)unesco.org