The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and of the WSIS+10 Review outcome document by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 marked a turning point for the ICT for development community. It requires innovations in the implementation of the WSIS Action Lines, stressed UNESCO at the high-level panel of the Commission for Science and Development (CSTD), which meets in Geneva from 9-14 May 2016, and showed several avenues forward.
At CSTD’s high-level roundtable on the “Review of progress made in the implementation of WSIS outcomes”, the Director of UNESCO’s Knowledge Societies Division, Dr Indrajit Banerjee, stressed that business as usual will not suffice to shift the WSIS Action Line implementation towards the SDGs. UNESCO with its very large mandate across many of the SDGs and Action Lines has started to explore innovations in the implementation of the next WSIS decade. All of the WSIS Forum Action Line meetings UNESCO organized had, for example, an explicit reference to the SDG implementation.
Most of the sessions brought different Action Lines together to address in an interdisciplinary and inter-ActionLine manner sustainable development challenges. Dr Banerjee also underlined that UNESCO is the rotating chair of the United Nations Group on the Information Society, UNGIS, and together with all other UN partners agencies, UNESCO will ensure greater linkages between WSIS implementation and the SDGs. Another example of the new orientation towards the SDGs is the Broadband Commission work, co-vice-chaired by ITU and UNESCO, which also just underwent a re-orientation towards the SDGs.
Knowledge Societies by 2030, or even by the next WSIS+20 Review in 2025, will, however, be radically different from the societies we know today, with –variations between countries and communities- but generally a steep increase of datafication, a widespread deployment of Internet-of-Things devices, algorithmic decision-making and expanding deployment of artificial intelligence. This has profound implications for socio-cultural and economic structures, and for rights, with transformations of work and private lives, and implications for access to information and knowledge, for privacy, freedom of expression and other Human Rights, which need to be addressed already now.
This week, the Commission on Science and Technology for Development will also draft, agree on and recommend for adoption of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) a resolution on the “Assessment of the progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society”.
For more information, please find CSTD meeting documents on UNCTAD’s website: