This year’s WSIS Forum entitled “Innovating Together: Enabling ICTs for Sustainable Development” was held in Geneva from 25 to 29 May. The event was co-organized by ITU, UNESCO, UNDP and UNCTAD. As 2015 is a turning point year when Members States will adopt a new Sustainable Development Agenda, all the sessions of the Forum contributed to establishing a link between ICTs and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). UNESCO also contributed to the WSIS -SDG Matrix, which was introduced at the Forum and which concretely illustrates how different Action Lines are connected to the SDGs.
At the opening of WSIS Forum 2015 on Tuesday 26 May, UNESCO’s Deputy Director-General, Mr Getachew Engida emphasized that the transition to new SDGs requires moving beyond ICT pilot projects, and scaling up ICT integration throughout all relevant activities. In addition, Mr Engida highlighted the importance of multistakeholder cooperation and collective action, underlining the central role of United Nations Group on the Information Society (UNGIS) in the WSIS review process and beyond. Mr Engida also represented UNESCO as one of the co-chairs of the high-level meeting of UNGIS that also took place on Tuesday morning.
On Wednesday UNESCO organized a high level dialogue on the topic “Making Empowerment a Reality – Accessibility for All”. The dialogue session was chaired by Mr Indrajit Banerjee, Director, Knowledge Societies Division, Communication and Information Sector, UNESCO. Mr Banerjee emphasized that for UNESCO it is of vital importance that all persons can participate as creative and productive members of their communities. This in turn requires paying particular attention to the needs of persons with disabilities. One of the main conclusions reached during the session was that “Accessibility should not be asked for but provided naturally and embedded in all policies and IT industries works and productions.” The dialogue session also succeeded in making linkages with several SDGs, such as Goal 10.2 which focuses on the social inclusion and empowerment of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status.
As a facilitator of a third of all WSIS Action Lines, UNESCO also organized five more Action Line meetings that covered a broad variety of topics related to ICTs and SDGs: Free, independent and pluralistic media and the Post-2015 development agenda; Culture and ICTs as drivers of sustainable development; Ethical dimensions of the information society and sustainable development; Access to information to achieve Sustainable Development Goals; and Teacher ICT competencies to support inclusive Knowledge Societies.
More information on the Forum: