Digital technology should be the foundational meeting for education and skills building as communities continue to adapt to the realities brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Broadband Commission for Sustainability said Sunday at its annual fall meeting.
The Broadband Commission, comprising public and private sector leaders, develops broadband connectivity-centric policy recommendations to accelerate progress towards the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
At the New York meeting, the Global Technology and Development Agency also highlighted the need for public-private partnerships to develop national strategies to improve digital skills and facilitate school connectivity.
“We have made significant progress in ensuring that universal broadband access continues to improve globally, but much remains to be done,” said Paula Ingabire, Rwanda’s Minister of ICT and Innovation, on behalf of Rwanda’s President and Commission Co-Chair Paul Kagame. The Broadband Commission’s mission remains as relevant today as it was when it was founded. We must continue to strive for universal access to meaningful, safe, reliable and sustainable broadband communications services that reflect human and children’s rights. Public-private partnerships remain The key strategies that have enabled us to achieve this.”
Advocacy goals for broadband development
To mobilize efforts to achieve universal connectivity – the international goal of connecting all of humanity to the Internet – the Broadband Commission has placed broadband connectivity at the forefront of global policy discussions. The Commission’s 2025 Advocacy Goals focus on providing policy and programmatic guidance for national and international action on broadband development.
According to the latest statistics from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), some 2.7 billion people – one-third of the world’s population – still lack access to the Internet, and even fewer enjoy reliable broadband access.
With just three years left to achieve the Commission’s seven goals, the fall meeting set out to address the remaining gaps in achieving universal broadband connectivity.
Commission co-chair Carlos Slim said: “The successful expansion and rapid adoption of high-speed connectivity has transformed our daily lives, societies and The economy.” “However, the digital services that have proven so important during this crisis remain out of reach, too expensive or complex to use for too many people around the world.”
The role of technology in education
During the session leading up to the United Nations Education Transformation Summit, the opening ceremony of the 77th UN General Assembly, the Commission called for universal, inclusive and affordable connectivity for the digital transformation of education.
“Accelerating broadband development for the new realities of a rapidly changing world is both important and timely,” said UNICEF Executive Director and Broadband Commissioner Catherine M. Russell, who chaired the meeting. “Since UNICEF and ITU have collaborated with this group In the three years since the Commissioners launched the Gigabit Initiative together, we have connected more than 2 million children to the Internet. However, the global learning crisis remains, and the pandemic has made it worse. The Transformational Education Summit is a unique opportunity to drive innovation commitment and investment so we can reach every child. “
Small businesses can make big contributions
The session also explored innovative ways to increase the affordability of digital services and devices, including working and learning from home, with a focus on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and the most vulnerable. The methodology of the review takes into account the current economic environment.
“I am delighted that MSMEs feature prominently in this year’s State of Broadband report,” said Houlin Zhao, ITU Secretary-General and Co-Vice-Chairman of the Commission. “Innovation doesn’t just come from big industries. Startups and entrepreneurs make important contributions in this area, and we should continue our efforts to ensure greater participation of small businesses in ITU’s work.”
Multistakeholder Engagement Forum
The Broadband Commission was attended by more than 40 commissioners and representatives, including government leaders and heads of international organizations, private sector companies, civil society and academia. Special guests including UN Technical Envoy Amandep Singh Gill and UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, Rabab Fatima, also attended the meeting.
Among other topics, participants discussed how connectivity and technological innovation can rapidly adapt to blended education; empowering learners through open educational resources and data; building civil servants’ capacity for effective digital transformation; literacy platform.
2022 State of Broadband Report
At the meeting, the Broadband Commission released its annual State of Broadband report, focusing on the changing realities of the pandemic era.
According to the report, COVID-19 has sparked a surge in internet usage, but the challenge of universal connectivity remains. The report also explores four major barriers to universal connectivity: lack of skills, lack of access, lack of equipment and lack of means to pay for the necessary equipment.
Addressing the persistent digital divide and achieving the Commission’s advocacy goals will require strategies, policies and an enabling regulatory environment, the report said. This environment should encourage affordable, meaningful, safe and inclusive broadband services and should attract the large investments needed.
“In this new world, the need for broadband access has never been more urgent,” said Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau and Executive Director of the Commission. “We need the right regulatory environment and the right strategies and policies. “
Commissioners leading the Smartphone Access and AI Capacity Building Working Group presented findings and recommendations for their final report. Preliminary results of the Interim Discussion Paper of the Learning Data Working Group are also presented.
During the meeting, as Mr. ITU Secretary-General’s second term ends this year, Mr. Zhao received a certificate of appreciation in recognition of his commitment to placing broadband at the top of the global policy agenda and supporting digital cooperation to achieve Universal connection.
Notes to Editors
The Broadband Commission was established in 2010 to foster multi-stakeholder digital collaboration by promoting Internet and connectivity growth in line with the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Commission is recognized for publishing its annual State of Broadband report and more than 30 thematic research and advocacy reports on topics such as digital health, education, online safety and the inclusion of vulnerable groups.
About the Broadband Sustainability Council
The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development was established by ITU and UNESCO in 2010 to raise the importance of broadband on the international policy agenda and to expand broadband access in every country as an key to development goals. It was led by Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Mexico’s Carlos Slim Helu and co-chaired by ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao and UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. It consists of more than 50 commissioners representing a cross-cutting group that includes top CEOs and industry leaders, senior policymakers and government representatives, and experts from international institutions, academia and development-related organisations. Learn more: www.broadbandcommission.org