The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum, organized in Geneva on 12th-16th June 2017 was a remarkable gathering of all major stakeholders under the theme “Information and Knowledge Societies for Sustainable Development Goals”.
At the WSIS Forum 2017, all the United Nations Agencies renewed their commitments to contribute to the WSIS follow-up processes and to realign their plans and activities towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (UN Agenda 2030) and the WSIS+10 outcomes. The Forum recalled the UN Secretary General, Mr. Antonio Guterres's message to the WSIS Forum participants that “information and Communications Technology can advance human rights, sustainable development and peace, the three pillars of UN activity”.
This year, more than 2500 participants from 150 countries participated in the Forum, which was organized by the “UN Family”, including ITU, UNESCO, UNDP and UNCTAD, as well as other partners and stakeholders.
UNESCO hosted two High-level sessions and five Action Line meetings:
The High Level Session 1 on “ Defining Internet Universality Indicators and Access Policies to support the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda” elaborated and presented the Internet universal indicators which serves to enrich the stakeholders capacity to access internet development towards building knowledge societies. UNESCO also presented its template on Knowledge Society Policy that offers concrete options for Member States to formulate and adopt appropriate policies at national level.
During the High-Level Session 2 on “Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism Online, UNESCO shared the major outcomes from the first international conference on “Youth and the Internet: Fighting radicalisation and extremism (2015, Paris) and the second International conference on “Internet and radicalisation of Youth: Prevent, Act and Live Together” (2016, Quebec). A broad panel of experts presented their diverse viewpoints and researches on the relationships and possible causality of online socialisation and radicalisation of youth leading to violent extremism.
The use of internet for radicalisation of youth leading to violent extremism was further discussed in a more in-depth session during the Action line C-10: Ethical and Legal Dimensions of Darknet. This session explored the ways and means of this deeper layer of the internet that has been used by extremist groups and for illicit international activities. The session also addressed possible challenges in trying to regulate the Darknet.
UNESCO organized the workshop session on Action Line C3 : Access to Information and Knowledge: Theme: Is Software the Key to Access to knowledge in the Digital Age. The workshop was designed to kick-start a larger consultation among experts, educators, academics on the “Software Heritage Project” by UNESCO. This project focusses on software preservation and sharing of source codes for the purposes of education, digital literacy skills and pedagogical approaches.
In the session Action Line C9: Media: Strengthening Privacy, Encryption and Source Protection for Media Freedom and Internet Development , UNESCO presented some publications and key outcomes to trigger stakeholders discussions on how to take forward the policy recommendations, and to translate them into actions so as to ensure the security of users by strengthening privacy, encryption and source protection of media.
Within the framework of leveraging the data revolution for the achievement of the SDGs UNESCO supported Action Line C7: E Science: Context of Big Data and Analytics for Knowledge Societies. This session presented key questions on how to build capacities at various levels for better understanding the context and issues related to big data and analytics, data packaging, data security and the culture of sharing data at institutional level. The UN Secretary-General supported this idea. In his message to the WSIS 2017 Forum he stated: “We want to ensure that Big Data will bring the big impact that so many people need and this forum can forge the partnerships among governments, private sector, civil society, technical community and academia”.
The Action Line C7: E-learning. Theme: OER – Mainstreaming OER to achieve SDG4 explored the Open Educational Resources (OERs) that allow users to legally and freely use, copy, adapt, combine and share educational resources in a way that is open and affordable. Key areas of increased collaboration were discussed including how to increase the capacity of users to access and share OER, issues related to language and culture, ensuring equitable and inclusive access to quality materials. It was acknowledged that OER has a significant potential to align with and support the achievement of SDG 4: Access to Quality Education.
The WSIS Forum is a global multi-stakeholder platform facilitating the implementation of the WSIS Action Lines for advancing sustainable development. It provides an opportunity for information exchange, knowledge creation and sharing of best practices, while identifying emerging trends and fostering partnerships.
WSIS 2017 useful links
- All sessions can be viewed on the online video archive
- Outcome statements
- WSIS- SDG Matrix
- Advancing sustainable development through information and communication technologies: WSIS action lines enabling SDGs
- Implementation of WSIS Action lines for Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world