The Director-General convenes information meeting on WSIS follow-up and implementation
On 1 September 2009, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, held an information meeting for Permanent Delegations on the follow-up to, and implementation of, the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). This was the latest in a series of meetings convened to provide Member States with a comprehensive briefing on the status of UNESCO's involvement in the WSIS process.
In his opening address, Mr Matsuura stated that, regardless of the rapid spread of information and communication technologies on the past decade, the growth unevenly spread throughout the world and that deep knowledge divides persist. Observing that the half way point towards the achievement if the indicative targets of the Geneva Action Plan was approaching, the Director-General recalled that "since the beginning of the WSIS process, when ICTs were identified as highly efficient tools for development, UNESCO strongly advocated the need for a multidimensional approach focused on human development rather that technology as an end in itself. This unique approach put the human being at the core of creating inclusive, development-oriented knowledge societies based on four key principles of freedom of expression; universal access to information and knowledge; respect for cultural and linguistic diversity; and quality education for all."
"UNESCO's engagement and the acceptance of its vision of knowledge societies led to it being designated one of the overall coordinators for implementing the WSIS Plan of Action," together with ITU and UNDP, continued the Director-General, recalling that the Organization also facilitates the implementation of six WSIS Action Lines in its areas of competence; and largely contributes to the implementation of the WSIS Plan of Action through its regular programme and budget.
Mr Matsuura outlined UNESCO's action in this context, illustrating how UNESCO operationalizes the concept of knowledge societies with examples of concrete activities, such as Community Multimedia Centres, the Memory of the World Programme, the ICT Competency Framework for Teachers, the Encyclopaedia of Life Support Systems, UNESCO's provision of expertise in the internationalization of internet domain names, and the Media Development Indicators that aim to produce a set of evidence-based recommendations to strengthen the development of free, independent and pluralistic media in each country.
The Director-General also emphasized the important contribution of the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) and the Information for All Programme (IFAP) to the implementation of the WSIS Action Lines. Mr Matsuura highlighted that the WSIS goals, along with other internationally agreed development goals, could not be achieved by UNESCO working alone. This is why UNESCO had established a number of partnerships with private sector, civil society and other UN agencies.
"Bridging the knowledge divide requires vision, political will, institutional and individual capacities, and resources. We will continue our engagement with the Summit to maintain the momentum among stakeholders, to create new partnerships and to build on numerous WSIS-related activities. UNESCO will continue to facilitate WSIS implementation at regional and country levels, including through advocating the integration of WSIS related issues in UN wide common country planning exercises. And we will continue to address the major new trends in building knowledge societies that have emerged since the two Summit events in Geneva and Tunis", concluded the Director-General.