UNESCO put Knowledge Societies and Internet Universality at the heart of WSIS+10 and Sustainable Development Agenda

Following a lively debate at the UNESCO side event, Building on WSIS+10: Putting Knowledge Societies at the Heart of the 2030 Agenda, at UNGA WSIS+10 high level meeting on 15 December, participants agreed that ICTs for sustainable development will at all-times require an enabling environment to build inclusive knowledge societies.

The session was chaired by UNESCO Deputy Director-General (DDG), Mr Getachew Engida, who informed participants that UNESCO’s Member States have recently endorsed at 38th General Conference the Connecting the Dots Outcome Document and Internet Universality framework, including its ROAM principles (Rights based, Open, Accessible by all and multi-stakeholder). The DDG invited panelists to share their views on the linkage of knowledge societies and the newly adapted Internet universality concept.

Brazilian Ambassador Benedicto Fonseca Filho congratulated UNESCO on the endorsement of Connecting the Dots Outcome document and pointed out that UNESCO plays a unique role as it brings together freedom of expression, education, respect for cultural diversity and takes a broad and comprehensive perspective. Mr Daniel Sepulveda Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and U.S. Coordination for International Communication and Information Policy in the State Department’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs,noted there is need for more cooperation and collaboration in the multi-stakeholder approach and signaled the serious threats to freedom of expression and independence of media.

Panelists echoed that the Internet Universality as a holistic and an exhaustive approach to shape shared principles which contribute to inclusive information and knowledge societies. It was raised that there is need to have affordable broadband to allow more ordinary people to be connect, particularly women and marginalized groups. An inclusive knowledge society needs to respect human rights and allow people to express themselves and their opinions online and offline. It was noted that bringing greater linguistic and cultural diversity into the Internet serve as a critical success factor for deriving internet development. An Internet accessible for all requires multiple conditions ranging from infrastructure to content, and should be underpinned by human rights.

Discussion also focuses on the lessons learned from the multi-stakeholder approach that there is need for more and more engagement from all actors to work to finding the commonalities amongst the different stakeholders and cooperate with all actors of the society.

Mr Engida concluded the session by highlighting UNESCO’s central role in this context is to promote Internet Universality and advance human progress towards inclusive Knowledge Societies that enhance development and rights through inclusive access to information and knowledge, through education, sciences, communication and information and through respect for cultural diversity. 

UNESCO is the United Nations’ lead agency concerned with education, sciences, culture, communication and information.  It has played a central role in the WSIS process and the development of Knowledge Societies, supporting the implementation of WSIS outcomes through its own programmes and by facilitating six of the WSIS Action Lines.  It has critical responsibilities in the implementation of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.