Nº 4 2013 > WSIS Forum 2013

Ministerial round table

Houlin Zhao, ITU Deputy Secretary-GeneralAdama Samassékou, President of the WSIS Preparatory Committee (Geneva, 2003)Janis Karklins, President of the WSIS Preparatory Committee (Tunis, 2005)
Houlin Zhao, ITU Deputy Secretary-General
Adama Samassékou, President of the WSIS Preparatory Committee (Geneva, 2003)
Janis Karklins, President of the WSIS Preparatory Committee (Tunis, 2005)

On 14 May 2013, more than 50 ministers participated in a round table discussion to share their vision on the WSIS review process and WSIS beyond 2015. The meeting was chaired by Houlin Zhao, ITU Deputy Secretary-General, and co-chaired by Adama Samassékou and Janis Karklins, the Presidents, respectively, of the WSIS Preparatory Committees for Geneva (2003) and Tunis (2005).

Participants reaffirmed their support for the WSIS process as a multistakeholder platform to pursue a common vision of a people-centric, inclusive information society. Ministers stressed that without in-depth evaluation and review it will not be possible to set clear objectives for the next decade. They saw the need for a change in mind-set in order to turn words into action in the coming years. 

Ministers recognized that the WSIS process has spurred the development of the information society worldwide and achieved good results so far. They felt that WSIS has provided a pertinent platform for learning and sharing, making it possible to replicate success stories and avoid reinventing the wheel. 

WSIS provides an effective coordination mechanism at the global level, and participants considered that it should continue to do so beyond 2015. Noting the complexity of the WSIS process, participants called for better coordination, looking to ITU and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to play an important role in future in that respect. 

Ministers reported on the achievements and challenges in their countries, highlighting successes such as the Connect a School, Connect a Community initiative, which should be further replicated. 

Thinking about the way forward, participants said that it would be important to link the WSIS+10 Review process with the Post-2015 Development Agenda (the follow-up to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals). According to ministers, focusing on development is the way to accelerate implementation of the WSIS objectives, but a lot of work remains to be done to transit from an information society to a knowledge society. Proper planning and benchmarking will be crucial to future success. 

Among the challenges facing the next phase of WSIS, participants identified ensuring the affordability — for all — of information and communication technology (ICT) terminals and devices, and the accessibility of services. Ministers also noted the challenges of rolling out ICT infrastructure including broadband, creating local content, building capacity though e‑learning and investment in education, and fostering innovation and entrepreneurship. Recognizing the use of ICT for economic integration, they stressed the importance of ensuring good governance, promoting the well-being of all people, and preserving culture and ecology. In an environment where cloud computing is becoming the norm, ministers highlighted the need for progress in cybersecurity and in ways of dealing with spam. 

Along with the support of ICT policy and regulatory frameworks, there is a role for international multi-stakeholder cooperation, as well as public-private partnerships, in accelerating the implementation of WSIS goals. 
Regional meetings relating to the WSIS+10 process have recently been held in Moldova, Cambodia, Uruguay and Tunisia. Further relevant meetings to be held in 2013 include the Global Symposium for Regulators (Poland), Connect Asia-Pacific Summit and Telecom World 2013 (Thailand), the Global Youth Summit (Costa Rica), and will be followed in 2014 by the World Telecommunication Development Conference and the High-Level Event on WSIS+10, to be held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.


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