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Your inputs count! UNESCO launches consultation website to define Internet Universality Indicators during WSIS Forum 2017

22 June 2017


UNESCO representative Frank La Rue highlights the importance of technology at the service of human beings at the WSIS Forum 2017 in Geneva (Switzerland).

“UNESCO supports technological development, particularly technology at the service of human beings and with a human approach,” said Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information Frank La Rue while presenting UNESCO’s project to define Internet Universality Indicators at WSIS Forum 2017 in Geneva last week. He also launched a new consultation website and encouraged all interested entities and individuals to submit their written contributions before 31 October 2017.

During a high-level session held at the World Summit of the Information Society (WSIS) Forum on 14 June 2017, UNESCO presented new project “Defining Internet Universality Indicators”. As developed by UNESCO, Internet Universality Indicators will serve as a recognized and authoritative global research tool for assessing Internet development along UNESCO Internet Universality R.O.A.M principles (Rights-based, Openness, Accessibility and Multi-stakeholder participation).

UNESCO Assistant Director General for Communication and Information Frank La Rue delivered an introductory key speech and stressed that “UNESCO wants to ensure that connectivity is available to all, which requires diversity of languages, scripts and cultures”. He also spoke about multistakeholderism, “which is important to guarantee that Internet policies are decided by open debate, not just technicians, corporations or governments but all sectors”.

Frank La Rue then officially launched the consultation platform, which is open to all stakeholders to submit their written contribution and inform UNESCO’s ongoing process to develop Internet Indicators. The consultation website will soon be available in six official UN languages.

“The Internet Universality Indicators are not intended to produce rankings of countries, but to encourage dialogue and engagement at a national level, which will bring changes and policy improvements,” said Anriette Esterhuysen from APC, inviting the audience to participate in the online consultation.

The ROAM framework is “a very positive instrument in policy design for the SDGs where some aspects can be measured quantitatively, but others will require qualitative methodologies,” said Alexandre Barbosa from CETIC.BR. He stressed that it is important to encourage the promotion of research into law and regulation.

During the session, speakers praised the ROAM principles and stressed that the linkages between them will help achieve a transparent and inclusive Internet. The speakers also debated about the future of the Internet and the transition from Information Society to Knowledge Society.

Jeremy Millard from Brunel University stressed the need to think about "what it is that Artificial Intelligence does best and what it is that human beings do best". Andreas Brandner, CEO of KMA, described the different types of knowledge and highlighted that society needs to go beyond to explore unknown knowledge. “Do we want information from the past for the Internet, or do we want to be able to co-create the future?” debated Andreas Brandner.

The adoption of a sixth category for the UNESCO Media Development Indicators was praised by Mira Milosevic, Executive Director of the Global Forum for Media Development. According to her, freedom of expression and content related issues are especially important to promote the Internet as a platform for democratic discourse.

Balasz Zorenyi, who is responsible for digital economy and society index at the European Commission, shared that they are using a benchmarking framework of more than 200 indicators to compare countries and look at trends over four years that are important for influencing improvements by their respective policy makers.

The audience also gave their inputs and contributions during the session. UNESCO is encouraging interested entities and individuals to engage with its ongoing global consultation process, which includes a series of physical consultation events and online consultations through the dedicated website.

The project is supported by Sweden and Internet Society, and the elaboration of the Indicators will be finalized by June 2018.

UNESCO thus calls upon all stakeholders to submit their written contributions by filling the online questionnaire before 31 October 2017.