On 23 March, the Director-General opened the 9th Meeting of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development with the Commission’s Chairs, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Mr Carlos Jarque, from the Carlos Slim Foundation, as well as the Co- Vice-Chair Hamadoun Touré, ITU Secretary-General. The Meeting was hosted by Mr Denis O’Brien, Chairman of Digicel, in Dublin.
The 9th Meeting of the Commission focused on the progress made by countries in reaching the Millennium Development Goals and the importance of recognizing broadband in the new global sustainable development agenda that will be set to follow 2015. The discussion explored also the importance of rural broadband for advancing inclusive and sustainable development.
“Our vision goes beyond mere advocacy for broadband enabled networks and services,” said Irina Bokova. “It is the vision that broadband can be an accelerator for inclusive and sustainable growth -- opening new paths to create and share knowledge, to widen learning opportunities, to enhance freedom of expression,” she continued. “But this does not happen by itself, it requires will and leadership, and this is why this Commission matters.”
Accompanied by the Deputy Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Getachew Engida, Irina Bokova underlined the importance of the work of the Commission to shaping an ambitious new global sustainable development agenda –especially for quality education, notably for the empowerment of girls and women.
“Let me underline again the importance of gender equality,” said the Director-General. “We need to empower girls and women with and through new technologies.”
In this respect, Irina Bokova welcomed as the new Commissioner, Ms Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, and, in this respect, underscored the importance of the UNESCO Global Partnership for Girls’ and Women’s Education and also the recent UNESCO Mobile Learning Week.
Regarding the post-2015 agenda, the Director-General underlined the importance of promoting new ICTs as enablers of more inclusive and sustainable development. In this respect, she highlighted the work of the UNESCO Institute of Statistics in defining 'learning metrics' to grasp better the quality of education.
"In terms of indicators," said Irina Bokova, "we must understand not just the penetration rates of ICTs but their impact on education, on health and on other key areas for sustainable development. This is about supporting human rights and dignity for inclusive, sustainable growth for all society."