G77 Underlines Importance of ICTs in UN’s Post-2015 Development Agenda

UNITED NATIONS , Nov 9 2016 - With half of the world’s population– or more than 3.5 billion people– still offline, mostly in developing countries, the Group of 77 (G77) has underlined the key role to be played by information and communications technologies (ICTs) in advancing the UN’s post-2015 development agenda.

Speaking on behalf of the Group of 77, joined by China, the delegation of Thailand to the United Nations, reiterated the importance of ICTs for achieving the international agreed development goals.

The Group welcomed the outcome document of the 2015 high-level meeting of the General Assembly on the overall review of the implementation of the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), and reaffirmed the Summit’s vision of a people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented information society.

The Thai delegate told the UN’s Economic and Social Committee on October 13 that ICTs could promote inclusive growth, and emphasized the strong need to bridge the digital divide between and within countries through technology transfer, effective and sustainable technical assistance and capacity-building.

The Group highlighted the growing importance and contribution of ICT to development in areas such as health, education, knowledge sharing, agriculture, promotion of peace and responses to the impacts of climate change, early warning systems and disaster risk reduction, as well as humanitarian response.

The Group also attached great importance to strengthening the representation of developing countries in the Internet Governance Forum.

Meanwhile, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has estimated that there were about 250 million fewer women than men online and that the global Internet user gender gap had grown from 11 per cent in 2013 to 12 per cent in 2016.

Empowering girls and women with ICT skills could solve the predicted shortfall of over 2 million jobs in the technology sector within the next five years.

In a report released here, the Geneva based UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said there were still worrisome digital divides within and across countries that needed to be addressed.

Addressing the Committee, UNCTAD’s representative said despite growth in Internet coverage, half the world’s population was not using the information superhighway. There were differences across regions, with 81 per cent of developed as opposed to 40 per cent in developing countries and 15 per cent in least developed countries.

The gender gap was substantial in least developed countries (LDCs). There was also a rural-urban gap within countries, with only 29 per cent of the world’s rural population covered by 3G networks. It was necessary to provide affordable access to ensure no one was left behind.

ITU’s representative said ITU and UN-Women have jointly announced a project called EQUALS: The Global Partnership to Ensure Gender Equality in the Digital Age.

The overall aim of the Partnership was to bring Governments, international organizations, civil society, the private sector, philanthropic foundations and academia together to build on existing resources, networks and expertise and scale up programmes to close the digital gender gap and empower women and girls through ICTs.

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