World Summit Review on the Information Society concludes with call for greater cooperation

May 18, 2012

A Syrian instructor explains to deaf students how to use special needs computers at a center supported by UNDP in Damascus. (Photo: UNDP/Ibrahim Mohana)

Geneva -  The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum 2012 concluded today with a call for more cooperation and greater integration of information networks. More than 1,200 delegates from more than 140 countries attended the forum, which took place from 14-18 May and was co-organized by UNDP and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The WSIS Forum 2012 is an annual review process to follow up on the WSIS conferences of 2003 and 2005, which took place in Geneva and Tunis, respectively. The 2012 Forum consisted of more than 150 sessions structured in 20 different types of meetings in 7 parallel streams.

“UNDP has taken an active part in the WSIS process from its inception, and we can all be proud of the progress accomplished to date,” said Najat Rochdi, Deputy Director of the UNDP Office in Geneva, in her opening address to the conference.

Rochdi told the delegates that they should keep in mind that the rules of the game have changed: “Advances in mobile technologies now allow affordable access to information and telecommunications channels for a huge number of people, including in poor and disadvantaged communities. We have been able to shift the paradigm of the digital divide from lack of access to the effective use of ICTs to improve people's lives.”

Rochdi also said that the IT community needs to go the extra mile and capitalize on the MDG achievements, moving to a consolidate set of global goals with a focus on “the most vulnerable, on innovative partnerships and innovative development processes, on inclusiveness as part of the DNA of our action and where solidarity and cooperation express themselves through south-south and triangular cooperation mechanisms.”

The WSIS Forum represents the world’s largest annual gathering of the ‘ICT for development’ community. The event is focused around strategies and tactics to help countries and organizations more effectively harness the power of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, now just three years away.

As part of the opening day ceremony, 18 WSIS Project Prizes were awarded to organizations and individuals who have achieved exceptional results in extending ICT access to underserved populations and communities. This year highlighted a special focus on Women and Girls in ICT, commensurate with the theme of this year’s World Telecommunication and Information Society Day.