» UNESCO welcomes new EU WIFI4EU Initiative to bridge Digital Divides
01.06.2017 - ODG

UNESCO welcomes new EU WIFI4EU Initiative to bridge Digital Divides

On 1 June, the UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, welcomed the new WiFi4EU Initiative, agreed by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, on 29 May.

The WiFi4EU Initiative will support installing free public WiFi hotspots in local communities across the EU, to reach some 6,000 to 8,000 municipalities in all EU Member States. The focus will fall on improving connectivity in areas where access to the Internet is limited, and is part of the wider Digital Single Market Strategy. 

“I welcome this Initiative as major step forward to increase digital access to all women and men across Europe,” said Irina Bokova. “This is especially important to bridge digital divides, for women, in rural areas, to ensure the digital revolution is a development revolution for all.” 

The Director-General highlighted UNESCO’s work to take forward these goals across the world, notably through its leadership in the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) process. The same objectives underpin UNESCO’s co-vice-chairmanship by Irina Bokova of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Digital Development, launched by UNESCO with the ITU in 2010, and co-chaired by H.E. Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, and Mr Carlos Slim, bringing together leading figures in the private sector, Governments and experts, to advance access and skills for broadband in all societies. 

The new EU Initiative draws on the proposal initially made in June 2011 by Dr Solomon Passy, President of the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria and former Foreign Minister of Bulgaria, and Ms Gergana Passy, President of Pan-Europa Bulgaria and former Minister of EU Affairs, in an open letter to the European Commission calling for the EU to become a ‘Wifi paradise,’ by ensuring free and reliable Internet access across the European Union.  

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