The World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) Forum 2017, the largest gathering of ICT stakeholders started this week in Geneva, under the theme “Information and Knowledge Societies for Sustainable Development Goals”. More than 2000 participants from 150 countries are participating in the Forum. The Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Mr Houlin Zhao welcomed the participants. Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Minister of Youth and ICT from Rwanda, acted as the Chairperson of the Forum.
Co-organised by ITU, UNESCO, UNDP, UNCTAD as well as a range of other partners, this year’s Forum aims at strengthening the alignment between the WSIS Action Lines and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The event will serve as a key platform for discussions on the role of ICTs as a means of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Forum, Frank La Rue, Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information of UNESCO, stressed UNESCO’s commitment to help Member States attain WSIS+10 goals and achieve SDGs by 2030. ICTs can play a crucial role in addressing development challenges, particularly SDG 16, which promotes peaceful and inclusive knowledge societies, access to justice for all and effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. Mr La Rue also highlighted SDG 5 (Gender equality) as an important component of all SDGs and maintained that all forms of inequality (including poverty and divides) need to be addressed through universal access to information.
The WSIS Forum provides an opportunity for information exchange, knowledge creation and sharing of best practices, while identifying emerging trends and fostering partnerships, taking into account the evolving Information and Knowledge Societies.
As a main organizing partner of WSIS in partnership with ITU, UNESCO will be hosting two high-level sessions (on Defining Internet Universality Indicators and Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism Online), as well as five action line meetings during the Forum, which will end on 16 June 2017.