We need new deal to bridge Digital Divides -- Call for Action from Hong Kong, SAR China
Hong Kong, 16 March 2017 – President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, co-chairman of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, called for innovation to reach all women and men who remain unconnected to mobile broadband, speaking today at the opening of the Spring Session of the Broadband Commission. The meeting was hosted by Huawei Technologies in Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region of China.
President Kagame appealed “to connect the global community, especially the unconnected", underscoring broadband access gaps in Least Developing States. "We must succeed together -- governments, industry and civil society -- to link people for the benefit of economies and societies"
Carlos Jarque, speaking on behalf of Carlos Slim, warned that “the development divide will deepen” globally without a commitment to full digital inclusion. He defined the spirit and role of the Broadband Commission as: "inclusion, sustainability, innovation, and partnerships."
The Broadband Commission – founded in 2010 and co-chaired by President Kagame and Mr Carlos Slim, chairman of the Carlos Slim Foundation, with UNESCO and ITU - comprises eminent Broadband industry chief executives, experts, senior policy makers, academia and international agencies.
The Commission engages major broadband actors to support achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals including education, gender equality and health -- to leverage broadband and ICT to help eradicate poverty and leave no one behind.
The Broadband Commission is vice-chaired by Secretary-General Houlin Zhao of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and Director General Irina Bokova of UNESCO.
UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova noted that “ICT-specific targets (are) in four of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals – there are 38 targets whose achievement will depend upon universal and affordable access to ICT and broadband.”
“I believe the framework for all our work is clear," she said. "It is the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is the 17 new Sustainable Development Goals. The digital revolution must be a revolution for human rights, to promote technological breakthroughs as development breakthroughs.”
Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General of ITU and co-Vice Chair of the Broadband Commission stated, “Our central conviction is that broadband and ICTs are critical if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. ICTs underpin vital achievements and modern services in many sectors, and governments and industry must increasingly work together to create the conditions so badly needed to facilitate the growth of broadband for sustainable development.”
Discussions of the Broadband Commissioners – which are taking place in advance of UNESCO's flagship Mobile Learning Week (20-24 March 2017) – focused on the need to advance connectivity and content, notably through new digital literacy and new approaches to education, as well as more relevant content, in multiple languages.
The Commission today officially launched a new report -Recommendations for Action: Bridging the Gender Gap in Internet and Broadband access and use - which highlights 32 tangible actions and good practices from 14 organizations to address barriers women face in access and use of the Internet.
According to the report, the global gender gap of Internet users widened from 11% in 2013 to 12% in 2016, with the gender gap highest in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) (31%) and Africa (23%). The Internet penetration rate remains higher for men than women in every region of the world. Sustainable Development Goal 9c sets a target for universal and affordable access to information and communications technologies (ICTs) in LDCs by 2020. The report is available online.
“To be sustainable, all new opportunities must be available to all, to empower all, for the benefit of all - especially girls and women," said Irina Bokova. "For this, we need a new focus on access and skills, connectivity and education, to empower every woman and man, every society."
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