The United Nations Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development has advocated for a deliberate building of an inclusive post-COVID digital future with impactful partnerships with various stakeholders, which will ultimately, make the best use of broadband Internet.
The Commissioners of the Commission, who made this advocacy, noted that there is a need for innovative financing mechanisms, impactful partnerships, bold decision-making and holistic approaches to capacity and content development to make the best use of broadband Internet.
Gathering at their spring annual session, more than 50 commissioners, who comprise government leaders, heads of international organizations and private companies, civil society and academia, discussed how to leverage digital cooperation to build an inclusive post-COVID digital future for all.
“This pandemic makes the urgency of universal connectivity very clear. We have nearly half of the world population without the right connectivity. We know what to do and how it can be done. The financing of fixed fibre and wireless networks should be done by the carriers, the tower corporations together with the newcomers. Governments and regulators should be the promoters of connectivity development with a plan for connectivity for everyone everywhere,” said Carlos Slim, Co-Chair of the Commission.
Also, the Commission’s Co-Chair, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, said: “As work and school life has increasingly migrated online, the contrast between the digital haves and have-nots is even more blatant. Now is the time to forge new partnerships for universal broadband and scale up the investments required to ensure digital equity.”
The commissioners discussed multiple forms of digital disparity, including access to the Internet, affordability, literacy, and the relative lack of content in local languages. In calling for digital solutions and services tailored to meet the needs of users, communities and businesses, they noted that digital access and skills are essential to bring people, communities, businesses and classrooms online, and to ensure that everyone can benefit equally from digital opportunities and services.
The UNESCO Director-General highlighted the Broadband Commission’s focus on digital learning, addressing online disinformation, and the launch of UNESCO’s new Media and Information Literacy curriculum in April this year.
The commissioners also reviewed progress achieved by the Commission’s current working groups on the 21st-century financing models, digital learning, and epidemic management, and they proposed a new working group on digital health, virtual health and care.