logoDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

1. What decisions or new strategies has the governing body of your organization taken to guide the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs? Please provide a brief summary below, including the overarching vision of your governing body for the Decade of Action on the SDGs.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is governed by the Plenipotentiary Conference and the Administrative Council. The Plenipotentiary Conference is the supreme organ of the Union and the decision-making body, which determines the direction of the Union and its activities. At the Plenipotentiary conference 2018 in the United Arab Emirates (29 October to 16 November 2018) ITU members approved the Strategic plan (SP) for the Union for 2020-2023 (Resolution 71, Revised Dubai 2018), updating the Strategic Plan. This Strategic Plan, covering the timeframe 2020-2023, is the first Strategic Plan fully within the timeframe of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The ITU Secretariat, the Council and members at the Plenipotentiary Conference worked on drafting this new Strategic Plan with both clear links to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and a vision to have an impact in achieving the SDGs. It includes a whole section entitled  “Linkages with the Sustainable Development Goals” where the most relevant SDG Goals for ITU are clearly highlighted: SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure) and Target 9.c, SDG17 (Partnership for the Goals)  as a means of implementation, SDG 4 (Quality Education including Target 4.b) and SDG 5 (Gender Equality including Target 5.b) as well  as others where Information Communication  Technologies (ICTs), enabled by ITU activities, will have the biggest impacts, such as SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities), SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), SDG 1 (No Poverty), SDG 3 (Good-Health and Well-Being). In addition the revised Resolution 200 entitled “Connect 2030 Agenda for global telecommunication/information and communication technology, including broadband, for sustainable development” shows strong commitment by membership to the Goals in the new SP and closely aligns the strategic framework with the SDGs and their timeframe.

This is further re-enforced through the linkages to the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) Action Lines, most notably those where ITU is the sole Action Line facilitator; C2 (Information and communication infrastructure), C5 (Building confidence and security in the use of ICTs) and C6 (Enabling environment).  ITU WSIS Action Line Roadmaps for C2, C5 and C6 are detailed plans to guide progress towards achieving the WSIS Implementation goals. The Roadmaps serve as a reference and guiding tool on ITU’s efforts on WSIS Action Lines as facilitator and implementor, and they provide a broad vision and detailed overview of the activities planned within the mandate of the Union. The document is available at: https://www.itu.int/en/itu-wsis/Documents/Roadmaps/WSIS-AL-Roadmaps_2019_DRAFT-20190919.pdf.

The governing bodies of the ITU Sectors have also embedded the SDGs as key goals in their activities. Revisions specifically recognize the 2030 Agenda as having substantial implications for the activities of ITU, such that they will contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, through and in harmony with the WSIS framework and reflected in their operational plans. This is reflected in the final acts of the Plenipotentiary conference where the SDGs are referenced in numerous decisions, resolutions and recommendations.

As a key partner in the WSIS process ITU contributes to the WSIS contributions to the SDGs reflected in the annual ECOSOC Resolutions on the Assessment of the progress made in the implementation of and the follow-up top the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society. The latest document herein highlights the ITU Contributions to the Implementation of the WSIS Outcomes 2019 (https://www.itu.int/en/itu-wsis/Documents/ITUContribution/2019_ITU_Contribution_to_WSIS-Implementation-20190926.pdf).

In addition, under the guidance of the Council Working Group on WSIS&SDGs the ITU Council Chairman submits ITUs contributions to the High-level Political Forum. The 2020 contribution is available here https://www.itu.int/md/S20-CWGWSIS35-C-0020/en.

 

2. At the secretariat level, what steps has your organization taken (or will it take) in the follow-up to the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs? Please specify actions, including but not limited to the following areas:

2.1 SDG-specific strategies, plans or work programmes;

Since the adoption of the UNGA Resolution “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” ITU partnerships (Memorandums of Understanding, Joint Declarations, etc.) have strongly focused on impacts on the SDGs, often referring very clearly to their cross-cutting nature and respective mandates. For example partnerships have been created with UNIDO (SDG 9), FAO (SDG 2), WHO (SDG 3) and  an e-waste coalition (SDG 12), as well as projects and activities addressing specific SDG Targets like ITU’s Gender Equality activities such as the EQUALS Partnership (SDG5).

ITU activities in support of the SDGs are also closely monitored, tracked and reported at numerous levels, including in a dedicated online platform (www.itu.int/sdgmappingtool).

The purpose of the ITU ‘SDG Mapping Tool’ is to provide a comprehensive visual view of how ITU activities contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals, by visualizing mapping and linkage of the following frameworks: ITU strategic framework, Connect 2030, WSIS Action Lines and SDGs. The tool aims to address and simplify reporting requirements towards the SDG implementation. To engage the private sector and other ITU non-State members a strong communication tools on the role of ICTs for the achievement of the SDGs on all platforms (#ICT4SDG) have been created along with a dedicated microsite (http://www.itu.int/ict4sdg). See screenshot below.

ITU strategies

2.2 Aligning the structure of the organization with the SDGs and the transformative features of the 2030 Agenda, including any challenges and lessons learned in doing so;

ITU’s Plenipotentiary Conference in 2018, approved a new Strategic Plan, covering the time-frame 2020-2023, as well as the accompanying Financial Plans and Results Based Management (RBM) Framework. These are the first within the timeframe of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, designed to maximise the impact of ITU’s activities in achieving the SDGs. The concept of “leaving no one behind” referred to in the Strategic Plan as “leaving no one offline”, as part of our institutional Goal on inclusiveness, specifically referring to the preamble of the 2030 Agenda.

Increased inter-sectoral coordination within ITU is require to better address, inter-alia, the cross-cutting nature of the SDGs, the cross-cutting nature of ICT impacts on achieving the SDGs and the increasing need to work in partnership with other agencies within the UN System as well as all other relevant stakeholders. This is, in fact, specifically addressed in the Strategic Goals on Partnerships and the new Intersectoral Objectives of the  Strategic Plan.

2.3 Readjusting or updating results-based budgeting and management, including performance indicators;

The new Strategic Plan, covering the time-frame 2020-2023, its targets, as well as the accompanying Financial Plans and Results Based Management (RBM) Framework, are the first within the time-frame of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and are designed to maximise the impact of ITU’s activities in achieving the SDGs.

2.4 Action to enhance support to the principle of "leaving no one behind" and to integrated policy approaches;

The concept of ‘leaving no one behind” has been adapted to ITU’s mandate as “leaving no one offline” and it is in the new Strategic Plan, as part of the institutional Goal on inclusiveness, specifically referring to the preamble of the 2030 Agenda.

2.5 Action to address the interlinkages across SDG goals and targets;

ITU’s Telecommunication Development Sector (BDT) has adopted RBM in its Operational Planning activities and Project development and implementation that have the SDGs mainstreamed.

2.6 Others.

3. What normative, analytical, technical assistance or capacity building activities is your organization providing to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs? Please provide a brief account of the activities you have organized or intend to undertake, including but not limited to the following areas:

3.1 Enhancing national implementation including by supporting the mainstreaming of the SDGs in development plans and policies or through national sustainable development plans/strategies;

The cross-cutting impact of ICTs for the SDGs as an enabler, highlighted in SDG 17.8, is strongly emphasised to Members States, including, as will be highlighted in section 4, when countries presenting their VNRs at the HLPF.

ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) assisted national entities in developing innovative strategies, policies, and regulations aimed at leveraging ICTs in development work that supports the SDGs. A number of publications were released in regulation, statistics, capacity building, National Emergency Telecommunications Plans, Spectrum Management, Digital Transformation and e-waste management.

In addition, to bridging the standardization gap, ITU has a free online access policy, which provides a very large dissemination of ITU publications to a broader public, especially in developing countries with financial and technical constraints. These include publications on, for instance, ITU Standards, the use of telecommunications /ICTs for ensuring disaster preparedness, early warning, rescue, mitigation, relief and response, to build smart sustainable cities, to tackle climate change and achieve a circular economy, and the establishment of modern and secure telecommunication/ICT infrastructure to further foster the development of innovative products and services, including building confidence and security in the use of telecommunications/ICTs for sustainable development.

3.2 Mainstreaming the SDGs in sectoral strategies, including specific SDG/target strategies;

The mainstreaming of the SDGs throughout ICT activities is evident through the myriad of resolutions within ITU Sector activities that specifically or tacitly refer to SDG Goals, Targets or Indicators. As referred to in section 2 numerous Partnerships such as Memorandums of Understanding and Joint Declarations refer directly to the SDGs. In addition, ITU is a key partner in Partnerships which directly impact on the SDGs, such as the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development and the EQUALS Partnership.

BDT has mainstreamed the SDGs in its activities and ICT projects.

ITU Standardization Sector (ITU-T) has undertaken a mapping of its activities to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an action highlighting the ITU-T activities most relevant to the SDGs and proposing actions for ITU-T to expand its contribution to the pursuit of the SDGs.

This mapping of ITU-T work to the SDGs will support the WSIS process in its promotion of efforts to leverage ICTs for sustainable development (see the WSIS-SDG Matrix linking WSIS Action Lines with the SDGs), highlighting areas where these efforts will receive support from the international standards developed by ITU-T.

TSB continues to map ITU-T objectives, outputs and results to the SDG goals and targets and the WSIS Action Lines.

Currently, no international comprehensive methodology exists to assess the environmental impact of information and communication technology (ICT) at sector level, or to assess the aggregated positive effects of the ICT sector on other sectors of the economy. Without a standard methodology evaluating the positive impacts of ICT, the role of ICTs in the fight against global warming will be only partially perceived. Recommendation ITU-T L.1451 (11/2019) “Methodology for assessing the aggregated positive sector-level impacts of ICT in other sectors” addresses the need to contribute to achieve the targets and goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and specially its Sustainable Development Goal 13 (SDG13), the Connect 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement from a global perspective. This Recommendation addresses the opportunity to use a computable general equilibrium (CGE) model as a possible methodology for simultaneously assessing the environmental and economic impacts of ICTs at sectoral level.

3.3 Supporting the strengthening of national institutions for more integrated solutions;

BDT supported Member States in developing national innovation strategies, A number of projects were also implemented towards this end. Work was undertaken in ITU-D Study Group 1 and 2 under various study questions that brought together diverse stakeholders.

3.4 Data and statistical capacity building;

Data and Capacity-building activities are carried out for the completion of the following annual ITU reports; ICT Facts and Figures, ITU Measuring the Information Society Report, the ITU ICT Development Index and the annual review of progress report on the accomplishment of the Connect 2020 Agenda. These reports require robust data from Member States, some of which are aligned with the SDG Indicators, that both Member States may report on regarding their progress in addressing the SDGs and ITU’s contribution to monitoring SDG indicators. Capacity-building activities are also regularly organized in ITU Regions for the benefit of Member States.

A number of national and regional statistical and data skills development workshops were held. Also, Two Expert Groups on Data and Statistics namely; Expert Group on Telecommunications Indicators and Expert Group on Household Indicators held their annual meetings with the aim of coming up with better data collection and data processing approaches. This also contributed to capacity building particularly for developing countries.

 ITU assists Member States in the use of Big Data for capacity building in health, development and other areas of application. In the area of Cybersecurity, the Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI) measures the commitment of countries to cybersecurity development at a global level. The GCI is also used to raise awareness of the importance and different dimensions of cybersecurity efforts. As cybersecurity has a broad field of application, cutting across many industries and various sectors, each country’s level of development or engagement is assessed along five pillars – (i) Legal Measures, (ii) Technical Measures, (iii) Organizational Measures, (iv) Capacity Building, and (v) Cooperation.

3.5 Harnessing science, technology and innovation for the SDGs;

ITU-T Focus Group on "Environmental Efficiency for Artificial Intelligence and other Emerging Technologies" (FG-AI4EE) was established by ITU-T Study Group 5 at its meeting in Geneva on 22 May 2019.


FG-AI4EE works to identify the standardization needs to develop a sustainable approach to AI and other emerging technologies including automation, augmented reality, virtual reality, extended reality, smart manufacturing, industry 5.0, cloud/edge computing, nanotechnology, 5G, among others. The focus group will develop technical reports and technical specifications to address the environmental efficiency aspect of emerging technologies and provide guidance to stakeholders on how to operate these technologies in a more environmentally efficient manner in order to meet the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. 

The Green Standards Week concluded for example with the adoption of the Call to Action “Connecting Smart Sustainable Cities with the Sustainable Development Goals”

on 4 October 2019 by all the participants (see: https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-T/Workshops-and-Seminars/gsw/201910/Documents/9thGSW2019-Valencia-CalltoAction-EN.pdf).

The Call to Action highlights that our cities – as powerful hubs of innovation, and a central force behind humanity’s impact on our environment – must make a defining contribution to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Call to Action adds that this contribution will receive essential support from information and communication technologies (ICTs) and supporting international standards.

WSIS Forum organizes Hackathons since 2017 and continued to do so with different themes that underline SDG Goals. These initiatives aim to generate innovative and actionable solutions in addressing different challenges for the implementation of the SDGs. The theme of the Hackathon for 2020 is Smart Sustainable Cities. The hackathon will focus on hacking Smart and Sustainable solutions for cities around the globe.

#Hack4SmartSustainableCities will identify and support innovative solutions to address cities challenges globally.

3.6 Multi-stakeholder partnerships;

The mainstreaming of the SDGs throughout ICT activities is evident through the myriad of resolutions within ITU Sector activities that specifically or tacitly refer to SDG Goals, Targets or Indicators. As referred to in section 2 numerous Partnerships such as Memorandums of Understanding and Joint Declarations refer directly to the SDGs. In addition, ITU is a key partner in Partnerships which directly impact on the SDGs, such as the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development and the EQUALS Partnership.

Also, ITU is a key partner to many Member States, Sector Members and organizations in the area of Cybersecurity development with partnerships such as the World Bank, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), World Economic Forum (WEF), European Cybersecurity Organization (ECSO), Silensec, Guardtime, etc.

BDT also forged partnerships with Governments, Private Sector, Development Banks, Foundations, and other development partners for co-financing of projects, and co-organizing of events aimed at capacity building and knowledge-sharing. Also, over USD 15’000’000 was raised or mobilized by the BDT to finance activities and projects that are catalytic to the attainment of the SDGs.

WSIS Forum (www.wsis.org/forum) has established a successful example of a global multistakeholder platform facilitating the implementation of the WSIS Action Lines for advancing sustainable development. The agenda and program of the annual WSIS Forum were designed completely crowdsourced by multistakeholder community, representing the government, private sector, civil society, academia and international organizations.

3.7 Bolstering local action and supporting sub-national plans/strategies and implementation for the SDGs;

ICTs are key enabler for many industries and sectors, including agriculture, health, energy, etc. ITU at large contributes to the drafting, reviews and implementation of national plans and strategies in telecommunication/ICTs, which have implications in national development plans/strategies/implementation, including for the achievement of the SDGs.

3.8 Leveraging interlinkages across SDG goals and targets;

For ITU the main SDG target is SDG 9c “Significantly increase access to information and communications technology and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries by 2020”. Indeed, ITU’s contribution to the achievement of the SDGs requires access to ICTs (Information Communication Technologies) and the internet. Consequently, ITU is often leveraging linkages across SDGs and is a key partner in Partnerships such as the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development and the EQUALS Partnership, which address links between SDGs.

3.9 Supporting policies and strategies to leave no one behind;

ITU is the intergovernmental body responsible for coordinating the shared global use of the radio spectrum, promoting international cooperation in assigning satellite orbits, improving communication infrastructure in the developing world, and establishing the worldwide standards that foster seamless interconnection of a vast range of communications systems.

ITU, together with its membership, is committed to connecting the world and contributing to the UN Decade of Action to achieve the United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  To enable this vision, ITU counts with its Strategic Plan for 2020-2023 (Resolution 71, Rev. 2018, Dubai and the Connect 2030 Agenda (Resolution 200, Rev. 2018, Dubai) which are  based on 5 strategic Goals: Growth, Inclusiveness, Sustainability, Innovation, and Partnerships. Each Goal has its own indicators that measure the progress towards this shared vision. (Related links: Connect 2030 Agenda; Buenos Aires Declaration).

The BDT organized a Global Symposium for Regulators focusing on GSR 2019 Best Practice Guidelines under the theme "Fast forward digital connectivity for all" in Port Vila, Vanuatu from 9 to 12 July 2019.

In addition, the BDT organized the main Girls in ICT celebration  which took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 25 April 2019 and welcomed over 250 girls from local schools and leaders from government, private sector partners, UN agencies, NGOs and the educational community. Events were held in 102 countries around the world (more than half of ITU member states). In terms of regional distribution, there were 43 events in Africa, 167 events in the Americas, 8 in Arab States, 79 in Asia and the Pacific, 7 in CIS Countries, 76 in Europe and an additional 6 events in other places.

3.10 Supporting the mobilization of adequate and well-directed financing;

The BDT forged partnerships with development partners resulting in co-financing development projects with a portfolio of 80 projects and a budget of USD 70’000’000.

3.11 Reducing disaster risk and building resilience;

ITU Member States have committed that all countries should have a national emergency telecommunication preparedness action plan, framework, legislation or policy statement identifying and listing their national goals and objectives in relation to natural disasters and emergencies, and how to go about protecting populations, national infrastructure and systems in the event of natural disaster. In addition, with its Sector Members and industry associations, ITU is developing a roadmap to address climate changes challenges, such as the increased use and new developments of technologies and the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with them, including the energy efficiency of networks and devices and GHG abatement.

The BDT held the 3rd Global Forum on Emergency Telecommunications (GET-19) - Innovating together to save lives: using technologies in disaster management, organized by the ITU and hosted by the Information and Communication Technologies Authority of Mauritius (ICTA), which took place from 6 to 8 March 2019, in Balaclava, Mauritius. The event brought together key players in disaster risk reduction and management.

ITU also joined the Crisis Connectivity Charter in September 2019.

Related links:

Emergency Telecommunications homepage

Policy and Regulatory experiences and best practices that can improve COVID-19 responses

Emergency Radiocommunications

Emergency telecommunications Backgrounder

Energy efficiency homepage

ICT industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent by 2030

3.12 Supporting international cooperation and enhancing the global partnership;

ITU recognizes the need to foster engagement and cooperation among governments, the private sector, civil society, intergovernmental and international organizations, and the academic and technical communities. The Union also recognizes the need to contribute to the global partnership to strengthen the role of telecommunication/ICTs as means of implementation of the WSIS Action Lines and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  

The BDT forged partnerships with several Member States, United Nations Agencies, private sector, academia in support of international cooperation and enhancing global partnership.

Related links:

WSIS Forum

AI for Good Global Summit

AI for Good Global Summit partners

ITU Digital World

U4SSC

GIGA: Connecting every school to the Internet

BeHe@lthy BeMobile

e-Agriculture

Policy and Regulatory experiences and best practices that can improve COVID-19 responses

3.13 Others.

The dedicated microsite (http://www.itu.int/ict4sdg) on ICTs for the SDGs is also a repository of resources addressing the cross-cutting enabling role of ICTs for SDGs. Lastly, ITU is activity involved in the Geneva Ecosystem and UNOG activities addressing linkages across SDG Goals and Targets with all relevant stakeholders.

 

1. ICTs at the heart of the global response to COVID-19

  • COVID-19 is the first pandemic in human history where information and communication technologies (ICTs) and social media are being used on a massive scale, driving the global collective response to the disease and digital transformation across the world.
  • COVID-19 has highlighted the fundamental importance of ICTs to economies and societies everywhere. From teleworking and e-commerce to telemedicine and remote learning, digital technologies are supporting continued access to education, healthcare, essential goods and services and family and friends.
  • ITU is committed to providing reliable and trustworthy digital services for all those around the world who rely on them to continue to work, study, care for others, and keep in touch with loved ones.
  • ITU is committed to continuing to leverage ICTs to help defeat COVID-19 and make us safer, stronger, and more connected.

2. existing digital divide &the SDGs

  • COVID-19 has shown that nobody is safe until we are all safe. At a time when just over half of the world is using the Internet, we will not be able to use the full potential of ICTs until we are all  It is at times like these that we need to ensure that the digital infrastructure, services, and applications that have proved fundamental in this crisis are beneficial to all so that we leave no one behind as we recover from the pandemic.
  • The COVID-19 crisis we are in today calls for solidarity. As the COVID-19 pandemic is making in-roads in the developing world and threatening all of humanity, we need to take immediate action to ensure no one is left behind.
  • ITU has long advocated for universal, reliable, and affordable connectivity. ITU will continue to push on all these fronts until everyone is connected, steadfast in its mission to connect all the world’s people to a better world, wherever they live and whatever their means.
  • On May 19, ITU released its new statistical report, Measuring Digital Development: ICT Price Trends 2019. “In the face of COVID-19, keeping telecommunication and digital services as affordable as possible is more vital than ever,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “People who do not have access to the Internet may not be able to access information about how to protect themselves from coronavirus, telework, learn remotely and connect with families and friends during quarantine.”
  • On 17 May for WTISD-20, ITU Secretary-General said: “There will be a before- and after-COVID-19. We must seize this opportunity to speed up the development of digital society. That means creating better environments for investment in ICT infrastructure, facilitating the development of new technologies like 5G, and using these technologies to help achieve the SDGs.”

3. collaboratioN and Partnerships

  • The COVID-19 pandemic is creating isolation, but it is also strengthening connection and collaboration. ITU has been calling on the ICT community and others to rise to the challenge and strengthen the collective digital response to this unprecedented crisis.
  • ITU has launched the Global Network Resiliency Platform (REG4COVID) to deal with the stress being put on telecommunication networks as more countries, companies, and individuals turn to digital technologies to respond to and cope with the impact of COVID-19. The platform helps policy makers, regulators, and industry players ensure that networks are kept resilient and telecoms services are available to all, to the maximum extent possible.
  • The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development has adopted an Agenda for Action outlining immediate measures that governments, industry, the international community, and civil society can take to shore-up digital networks, strengthen capacity at critical connectivity points like hospitals and transport hubs, and boost digital access and inclusion.
  • ITU joined the World Bank, GSMA and the World Economic Forum in setting in motion concrete and immediate actions ranging from promoting network resilience to ensuring access and affordability of digital services in order to help governments, private sector and every citizen cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. A Digital Development Joint Action Plan and Call for Action was launched to better leverage digital technologies and infrastructure during the pandemic.
  • ITU and WHO, with support from UNICEF, are set to work with telecommunication companies to text people directly on their mobile phones with vital health messaging to help protect them from COVID-19. These text messages will reach billions of people that are not able to connect to the Internet for information. This initiative builds on current efforts to disseminate health messages through the joint WHO-ITU BeHealthy BeMobile initiative.
  • On Earth Day, 22 April, ITU released in partnership with several other UN sister agencies a report on “Frontier technologies are key tools to combat climate change”. “COVID-19 has made clear that we are all interconnected and that our response must be collective, across countries and sectors and that ICTs have an important role to play in accelerating solutions. How we respond to climate change, as one humanity, must follow the same principles,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao.
  • ITU and WHO are committed to identifying and scaling best evidence-based digital health solutions and to leveraging frontier technologies such as artificial intelligence and big data to diagnose, contain and predict outbreaks better and faster.
  • On 19 April, ITU joined G20 Health Ministers to address the impact of COVID-19 on the global health sector and society. The virtual meeting addressed the necessary actions to improve pandemic preparedness and emphasized the importance of utilizing digital solutions in current and future pandemics.
  • ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao addressed the Extraordinary Meeting of G20 Ministers responsible for the digital economy on 30 April. He urged the Ministers to seize the unique opportunity presented by the COVID-19 crisis to speed up the development of digital society, saying that he was “confident that the message sent by the Ministers from G20 countries will play a historic role in the fight against COVID-19 and the role of digital technologies in the achievement of the SDGs.”
  • In a video statement to the 73rd session of the World Health Assembly (18-19 May 2020), ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao said: “I am confident we can use the momentum around COVID-19 to bring digital health solutions to billions and transform today’s digital revolution into a development revolution for all.”
  • ITU has joined the COVID-19 Global Education Coalition led by UNESCO to ensure that learning continues for the more than 1.5 billion students and youth across the planet affected by school and university closures. With most of the world’s students now at home due to COVID-19, the pandemic is revealing startling divides in digitally-based distance learning. Half of all students currently out of the classroom – or nearly 830 million learners globally – do not have access to a computer. Additionally, more than 40% have no Internet access at home.
  • ITU launched in collaboration with the office of UN Undersecretary General and Special Advisor Fabrizio Hochschild a series of webinars on “Digital Cooperation during COVID-19 and beyond” that focuses on how to secure safe, stable, affordable and inclusive connectivity. The series helped identify possible solutions and common approaches and strategies from different nations and stakeholders. The five webinars which begun on 15th April 2020 were concluded on 13th May 2020. More information can be found here.
  • Building on ITU’s Digital Transformation Centres Initiative, ITU, in collaboration with Cisco, will offer a free-of-charge programme providing trainers with tools and skills on how to conduct remote teaching.
  • In the face of the COVID-19 crisis, as in any other emergency, the speed and efficiency of our response is proportional to the level of preparedness. ITU has launched new guidelines to assist countries develop national emergency telecommunication plans.
  • ITU recognizes the value of the Amateur Radio Services for working with emergency services to provide essential communication links in times of crisis, linking responders with those in need of humanitarian assistance or helping to keep supply chains open. In these days of social isolation, amateur radio offers a unique way for individuals and families to maintain social contacts while remaining physically separate from each other.
  • Bringing trusted news and facts about COVID-19 is paramount. During times of crisis, such as those we are living through now, citizens turn to independent Television and Radio broadcasters for reliable and trustworthy news and information. As the COVID-19 outbreak escalates, radio and television news bulletins are doubling their audience while online news services have tripled their reach in key markets.
  • On claims about 5G technology and the spread of COVID-19: viruses cannot travel on radio waves and mobile networks. These claims have no scientific basis whatsoever, and ITU condemns the attacks on infrastructure vital to address the pandemic and keep our economies and societies working.
  • The AI for Good Global Summit has gone virtual. ITU is drawing upon expertise from the AI for Good Global Summit community and has launched an AI for Good Webinar Series delving into promising use cases of artificial intelligence in healthcare and other global challenges, including how to combat COVID-19.
  • Each week, Virtual WSIS TalkX delves into an aspect of the global response to COVID-19. Building on the expertise of the WSIS community, this podcast series provides WSIS Stakeholders with a platform to create partnerships for on-the-ground action. As a part of the WSIS Stocktaking efforts to promote the innovative use of ICTs in making social impact, the ICT Case Repositorycollects projects and activities dedicated to responding to the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Cities house over half of the world’s population and risk amplifying the COVID-19 pandemic. The United for Smart Sustainable Cities ─ a UN initiative coordinated by ITU, UNECE and UN-Habitat, and supported by other 14 UN bodies ─ has created a new workstream exploring the solutions and best practices used by cities to address COVID-19.
  • The ITU Smart Villages platform is used to establish interactive voice services on COVID-19 to everyone in Niger. The service, created in collaboration with operators and SMEs, is available via the short code 701 in the five local languages in Niger. Through the service, citizens are able to access important messages from the Ministry of Health regarding prevention and diagnosis of COVID-19.
  • To help build a secure and trustworthy environment for those relying on ICTs during the COVID-19 crisis, ITU is working with partners to make cybersecurity-related tools and resources available, and launched CYB4COVID, a comprehensive repository of cybersecurity expertise related to COVID-19, assisting countries, businesses and citizens in their response to amplified and new threats in the digital space during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • An Agenda for Action launched by 8 UN agencies, including ITU, places children’s protection from violence as top priority for Governments and provides concrete recommendations to safeguard children’s well-being. Young people are natural adopters of technology. ITU, as member of the UN Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development, contributed to the Statement on COVID-19 and Youth.
  • Several innovations solutions are sought to tackle the challenges posed by COVID-19. ITU is a key partner in several hackathons and currently leads the ITU Innovation Challenges. The overall theme of this year’s challenges is, Rethinking the digital economy’s value chains during the COVID-19 pandemic.Deadline for submission is 31 July 2020.

ITU has a dedicated COVID-19 Updates webpage highlighting all ITU initiatives, events, products and partnerships related to COVID-19.

4. The high-level political forum (HLPF) is the central platform for the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. Has your organization participated in or supported the work of the HLPF? If yes, please specify your involvement in the following areas:

4.1 Supporting the intergovernmental body of your organization in contributing to the thematic review of the HLPF;

2019

ITU’s main input to the HLPF 2019 consisted of the ITU Council contribution, at the request of the ECOSOC President. In addition, ITU submitted the following inputs to HLPF 2019.:

  • Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development input
  • World Summit on the Information Society Forum Outcomes
  • United Nations Group on the Information Society (UNGIS) input (UNGIS contributed by issuing a joint statement to the HLPF 2019, highlighting the SDG Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development)

Also, ITU Council summited a “Compilation Report of ITU Council contributions to the High-Level Political Forums (HLPF) 2016-2019”, which was transmitted to the President of the General Assembly by letter dated 19 July 2019. This report was requested to serve as ITU’s input to the SDG Summit to take place on 24-25 September 2019 (available here).

2018

ITU’s main input to the HLPF 2018 consisted of the ITU Council contribution, at the request of the ECOSOC President. In addition, ITU submitted the WSIS Forum 2018 outcomes.

2017

ITU’s main input to the HLPF 2017 consisted of the ITU Council contribution, at the request of the ECOSOC President. In addition, ITU submitted the WSIS Forum 2017 outcomes, and made a submission on behalf of the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development. An Open Letter from the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development to the 2017 HLPF was also submitted to the United Nations Secretary-General and the President of ECOSOC.

2016

ITU’s main input to HLPF 2016 consisted of the ITU Council contribution, at the request of the ECOSOC President. In addition, ITU submitted the WSIS Forum 2016 outcomes and made a submission on behalf of the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development. An Open Letter from the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development to the 2017 HLPF was also submitted to the United Nations Secretary-General and the President of ECOSOC.

4.2 Contributing to policy/background briefs for the HLPF;

2019

ITU contributed to the Inter-agency Task Force on Financing for Development report “Financing for Development: Progress and Prospects 2019”, as well as to the reports of the STI Forum, The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2019 and the UN Secretary General’s Progress Report 2019.

2018

ITU contributed to the Inter-agency Task Force on Financing for Development report “Financing for Development: Progress and Prospects 2018”, as well as to the report “System-wide Collaboration on the Environment”.

2017

ITU contributed to the thematic background notes provided by members of Executive Committee on Economic and Social Affairs (ECESA Plus) as a coordinated contribution by the UN system to the 2017 HLPF:

Note on Thematic Review of SDG 1: End Poverty in All its Forms Everywhere,

Note on Thematic Review of SDG 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture, Note on Thematic Review of SDG 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages,

Note on Thematic Review of SDG 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls,

Note on Thematic Review of SDG 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation (co-lead by ITU, WIPO, UNCTAD, UNIDO and the World Bank), and

Note on Thematic Review of SDG 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

In addition, ITU contributed to the Inter-agency Task Force on Financing for Development report “Financing for Development: Progress and Prospects 2017”, and the outcome document of the Multi-stakeholder forum on science, technology and innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals.

2016

ITU contributed with two issue briefs, one on “Inclusive Digital Financing Services” and another on “Financing for ICT Infrastructure”, through the Inter-agency Task Force on Financing for Development.

4.3 Helping organize SDG-specific events in the preparatory process;

2016 - 2019

ITU, as a member of the Inter-agency Task Team on Science, Technology and Innovation for the SDGs (IATT), collaborates with the 10- Member Group of representatives from civil society, the private sector and the scientific community to shape the annual Multi- stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the SDGs (STI Forum), which serves as an input to the HLPF process.

4.4 Organizing side events or speaking at the HLPF;

2019

ITU organized special and side events:

  • Special event organized by ITU/UNITAR in collaboration with ILO, UNESCO and the Permanent Mission of Mexico: Attaining the SDGs in a future that is digital: the role of capacity building, education and skills development for digital inclusion
  • Side event organized by ITU in collaboration with GeSI and the participation of Costa Rica, UNIDO, Microsoft and the Earth Institute: Harnessing Frontier Technologies for Accelerating Climate Actions and the SDGs
  • Side event organized by ITU-UNDP/UNGIS and Saudi Arabia: “Fostering digital transformation and global partnerships for SDG achievement” [Aligning WSIS process with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development]. The side-event highlighted good practices at the national, regional, and international level in the field of digital transformation and global partnerships to achieve the
  • Fostering digital transformation and global partnerships for SDG achievement” - [Aligning WSIS process with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development]
  • Technical Meeting UNGIS organized by ITU and reception sponsored by UNDP
  • Side event organized by ITU in collaboration with Montenegro, DIAL, GeSI, and the participation of representatives of Burkina Faso, Bangladesh and Chile: Scaling Digital Transformation to Achieve the SDGs Using a Whole-of-Government Approach (ITU, Montenegro, DIAL, GeSI)

Events organized by other entities with ITU participation:

  • Special event organized by UNITAR with ITU Deputy Secretary General as panellist: Launch of UN SDG: Learn: One Platform, One Partnership and One Programme for an effective, coherent and inclusive approach to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) learning”
  • Luncheon event organized by the UN Secretary General’s Task Force on Digital Financing of the SDGs, Canada and Malawi, with participation of ITU’s Deputy Secretary-General: Investing in the future – UNSG’s Task Force on Digital Financing of the SDGs - Canada/Malawi
  • Side event organized by UN Technology Bank, moderated by ITU Chief of SPM: SDG17/UN Technology Bank for LDCs: ICTs and inclusiveness (ORHLLS, Turkey)
  • Side event organized by the Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons (ICAT), in collaboration with ITU’s Chief of SPM as a panellist: World Day against Trafficking in Persons: Use of ICTs to Combat Trafficking in Persons and Leaving No One Behind
  • Side event organized by WEF, IEEE and DQ with ITU BDT Director as panellist: A Framework for Digital Literacy, Skills and Readiness
  • Official Programme session High-level Segment of ECOSOC Thematic discussion “Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality - Long term trends and scenarios, with ITU BDT Director as Lead Discussant

Statements:

  • ITU SG’s statement delivered during the General Debate of the Ministerial segment and the High-level segment of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
  • Statement delivered by Chief of SPM to the Thematic review/ Report of the STI Forum
  • ITU commented on discussion on SDG 8 - Decent work and economic growth

2018

The following side events were organized by ITU at HLPF:

  • “ICT enabling the transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies” organized by ITU in collaboration with UAE, Mexico, GeSI, GSMA and Two WSIS prize winners/champions from UNCTAD and ISOC were also invited to showcase their projects. ITU screened a new short video on ICT4SDGs focusing on SDG’s 6,7,11, 12, 14 and 17, as well a new the brochure “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies” published for HLPF 2018.
  • “Shaping smarter and more sustainable cities - Striving for sustainable development goals” organized by ITU, Greece and UNECE with the collaboration UNESCO, the UAE’s Smart Dubai, OiER, Cetic.br and IBI Group. The event featured a lively debate on the impact of frontier technologies on cities and the presentation of the United for Smart Sustainable Cities (U4SSC) KPI
  • Synthesis Report Launch “Broadband for national development in four LDCs: Cambodia, Rwanda, Senegal and Vanuatu”, organized by ITU, Broadband Commission and UN-OHRLLS. The event included a presentation the High Representative for LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS (UN-OHRLLS) and remarks by representatives of the Broadband Commissioners from Nokia,

ITU also participated actively in the following events:

  • “The role of Information and Communication Technologies in the implementation of the targets in SDG 11” organized by UNESCO, SDSN, CETIC and Argentina. Chaesub Lee was invited as a panellist and delivered opening remarks.
  • “The Digital Agenda for Latin America and the Caribbean as a catalyst of the SDGs” organized by Colombia, with ITU participation as a panellist together with the Minister of ICT of Colombia, GSMA, Mexico and ECLAC, focusing on the digital agenda for Latin America
  • “Using artificial intelligence to combat social exclusion: What can governments do?” organized by Bangladesh, Mexico and hosted by WEF and DESA, with ITU as the “firestarter” to start the discussion on how to ensure that development of AI will not exacerbate existing digital divide or create a new

Special event:

  • Partnership Exchange - Presentation of the United for Smart Sustainable Cities U4SSC partnership (panel discussion) and E- Waste Coalition (showcase session) .

Thematic Dialogue (ECOSOC High-level Segment)

  • “Leveraging new technologies for the SDGs” moderated by ITU (D. Bogdan-Martin) with panellist from DESA, Ghana, Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation, STI Forum co-Chairs (Japan & Mexico), and

ITU took the floor during the sessions on “Advancing Science, Technology and Innovation for SDGs” and review of SDG 11 on making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, highlighting the enabling role of ICTs tool to meet the respective goals.

The ITU Secretary-Generals statement to the General Debate was also delivered, reaffirming the Union’s commitment to leveraging the power of ICTs to fast-forward progress on the SDGs.

2017

  • ITU organized the side event: “ICT for sustainable development- How digital solutions can drive progress towards the SDGs” held on 13 July, with the participation of ITU, GeSI, Nokia (Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development WG on Digital Health), UNIDO and Bangladesh. The event was attended by over 60 participants and served to launch the ITU “Fast Forward Progress: Leveraging Tech to Achieve the Global Goals”.
  • ITU was a co-organizer of the side event “High-Level Panel Discussion on ICTs and Poverty Eradication”, held on 17 July, together with Vietnam, Italy, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and UNDP
  • ITU organized a side event on Innovation strategies: Designing national policies that use innovation to meet the SDGs, together with UNCTAD, WIPO and the World Bank

ITU also participated in the following:

  • The Partnership Exchange Special Event held on 17 July to announce the EQUALS: Global Partnership for Gender Equality in the Digital Age;
  • ITU was invited as a panellist in the side event “Accelerating Women’s Economic Empowerment to Achieve the 2030 Agenda” held on 17, hosted by UN Women, ICC, Costa Rica and UK side event (17 July, 13:15-14:30);
  • ITU also participated as a speaker in a side event organized by Finland and UNIDO on the “Implications of Technology and Innovation for the future of Manufacturing";
  • ITU organized a working meeting of focal points of the partners for Equals on 18 July, with over 50 participants attending from the hub in NY (held in WIPO), the hub in ITU Geneva, and several others joined ITU Secretary-General joined the meeting at the closing to thank all members to their support to bridge the growing digital gender gap;
  • Side event “Science- technology- innovation: Closing the gender gap to meet the SDGs” hosted by WIPO, UNESCO and UN WOMEN, held on 12 July;
  • “G-STIC 2017: the first in a series of Global Science, Technology & Innovation Conferences” hosted by Belgium and G-STIC -VITO Flemish Institute for Technological Research, held on 12 July;
  • “Eradicating Poverty and Promoting Prosperity in a Changing World: the use of space-based technologies and applications for Sustainable Development” hosted Austria, UNOOSA and Ethiopia, held on 18 July;
  • Locals2030: Hub for Sustainability Solutions special event where a presentation of KPI’s of the United for Smart Sustainable Cities (U4SSC) initiative was made by Kari Aina EIK / John Smiciklas, Chairman of the working group on key performance indicators;
  • “The SDGs in Action – Eradicating poverty & promoting inclusive prosperity in a changing world” organized under the aegis of the Sustainable Development and Sustaining Peace Results Group, co-chaired by UNDP and PBSO, held on 18 July;
  • “ICT Integrated Innovative Education for Global Citizenship to Eliminate Poverty”, organized by the Baha’I International, held on 19

ITU provided oral and written statements under agenda items covering the reviews of Goal 5, Goal 9 and Goal 17 during the deliberations, highlighting the role of ICTs as an enabling tool to meet the respective goal.

The ITU Secretary-General’s statement during the General Debate was delivered reaffirming the Union’s commitment to leveraging the power of ICTs to fast-forward progress on the SDGs and to work with all to eradicate poverty and promote prosperity in today’s changing world. The statement also highlights and takes note of the increased emphasis on ICTs in this year’s VNRs.

2016

In collaboration with GeSI (Global e-Sustainability Initiative) ITU organized a side-event on the 15th of July 2016 on: ICTs as a catalyst for sustainable development – from inspiration to action and the multi-stakeholder engagement for implementation, which served to present the GeSI report “#SystemTransformation: How digital solutions will drive progress towards the sustainable development goals”, also sponsored by ITU. The event was well attended and included panellists from ITU, GeSI (Accenture, Verizon), GSMA, and WEF.

The ITU Secretary-General’s statement to the General debate was delivered, highlighting the Broadband Commission Open Statement and WSIS Contributions.

Statements were also delivered during the multi-stakeholder partnership session and the closing panel on emerging technologies and proposals for the future.

4.5 Supporting the VNR process.

ITU Secretary-General periodically requests government officials to ensure highlighting in the VNR reports the importance of ICT for sustainable development as a cross-cutting enabler and accelerator for critical issues in implementation of the sustainable development goals. Highlights could include illustrating good practices, lessons learned, challenges, opportunities and support required in terms of finance, capacity building, technology, partnerships, etc. References to policy and enabling environment measures with key stakeholders including national and local government, legislative bodies, the public, civil society, and the private sector are encouraged.

2019

ITU participated in the “Knowledge Exchange on approaches and tools

for the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, held on 20 November 2019, in Oslo, Norway, to facilitate knowledge exchange and networking between ITU and Voluntary National Review (VNR) countries presenting their reports at HLPF2020; and to showcase ITU tools that could support VNR countries and processes in formulating the VNR reports.

2017-2018

ITU has participated in the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs “Knowledge Exchange” sessions (2017 & 2018) held in Geneva between the countries that will be presenting their Voluntary National Reviews and the UN system and other international organizations and stakeholder partners.

2016-2018

ITU provided annual briefing sessions on ICT4SDGs to Permanent Mission in New York, in particular targeted to the VNR countries. During these sessions, ITU resources and publications are made available.

In addition in 2017, ITU Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director sent a joint letter addressed to the 44 Member States presenting VNRs, encouraging them to highlight in the reports the important role of ICTs in developing both gender equality and gender empowerment, policy measures, including universal service funds, that the countries have undertaken to bridge the gender divide.

5. How has your organization cooperated with other UN system organizations to achieve coherence and synergies in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs? In this regard, has your organization launched or intend to launch any joint programmes or projects in collaboration with other UN entities? Are there any results or lessons you would like to highlight that might help improve the design and impact of such efforts? Has your organization participated in any of the following coordination systemwide mechanisms or any other relevant platform - CEB, UNSDG, EC-ESA Plus, regional coordination meetings, UN-Energy, UN-Water, UN-Ocean, IAEG, IATT? Please specify which and indicate any suggestions you may have about improving collaborations within and across these mechanisms/platforms.

As a United Nations Specialized Agency, ITU collaborates, participates, and interacts within the United Nations system, its governance processes, subsidiary mechanisms, inter-agency coordination networks and through joint initiatives, to strengthen synergies and foster greater cooperation, information and knowledge sharing to achieve coherence in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.

In this regard, ITU participates in the following coordination mechanisms, inter alia:

  • Chief Executive Board for Coordination
  • High Level Committee on Programmes
  • High Level Committee on Management
  • Interagency Task Team on Science, Technology and Innovation as part of the Technology Facilitation Mechanism entrusted with the STI Forum and Online Platform
  • Interagency Task Team on Financing for Development
  • United Nations Sustainable Development Group (including UNDAFs)
  • High Level Committee on Programmes
  • High Level Committee on Management
  • Interagency Task Team on Science, Technology and Innovation as part of the Technology Facilitation Mechanism entrusted with the STI Forum and Online Platform
  • Interagency Task Team on Financing for Development
  • United Nations Sustainable Development Group (including UNDAFs)

ITU also participates actively in the work of various other inter-agency mechanisms and networks, among these: Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality (IANWGE); the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Gender Statistics; the Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development (IANYD); the UN Global Working Group (GWG) on Big Data for Official Statistics; the UN Environment Management Group (EMG); the UN Inter-Agency Task Team on Technology Bank; the Inter-Agency Standing Committee on Emergency Telecommunications; the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space; the UN Communication group; the Inter-Agency Task Force on Africa; the Inter-agency Consultative Groups on LDCs/SIDS; the Inter-Agency Support Group on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (IASG); and the UN Strategic Planning Network.

ITU forged a host of partnerships and projects with other UN Agencies that includes UNIDO, FAO, WHO, UNICEF, ILO, UNHCR and others. There are lessons learnt from these partnerships that include: co-financing results in synergies, a multi-sectoral approach bears bigger results; and there is greater expertise across sectors.

Below are some key initiatives with other UN Funds, Programmes and Specialized Agencies:

  • Annual AI for Good Global Summit led by ITU, in partnership with 37 UN sister agencies (3rd edition held on 28-31 May 2019, in partnership with XPRIZE Foundation, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM))
  • Financial Inclusion Global Initiative (FIGI) by ITU and World Bank supported by other partners and foundation
  • Symposium on the Future Networked Car within the Geneva International Motor Show
  • Collaboration with WHO in support of the WHO "Make Listening Safe" initiative, with notable recent initiatives on safe listening devices/systems and AI for health
  • Collaboration with UNECE’s working party on gender responsive standards, as well as the initiative on the strategy for enhancing the contribution of standards to the SDGs
  • Partnership with WHO in creating the Focus Group on AI for Health (FG-Ai4H);
  • United for Smart Sustainable Cities (U4SSC): is coordinated by ITU, UN-Habitat and UNECE and supported by CBD, ECLAC, FAO, ITU, UNDP, UNECA, UNECE, UNESCO, UN Environment, UNEP-FI, UNFCCC, UNOPS, UNIDO, UNU-EGOV, UN-Women and WMO. U4SSC serves as a global platform to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 11
  • B-Healthy B-Mobile WHO/ITU joint programme
  • Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development led by ITU and UNESCO with membership from six other UN entities
  • Decent Jobs for Youth Campaign led by ILO and ITU (ITU is leading the digital skills thematic priority of Decent Jobs for Youth, the global initiative to scale up action and impact on youth employment under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development)
  • EQUALS: The Global Partnership for Gender Equality in the Digital Age implemented by ITU, UN Women, UNESCO, UNCTAD, ITC, UNU-CS, GSMA
  • GIGA - Connecting Every School to the Internet: ITU and UNICEF have joined forces with an aim to connect every school to the Internet by 2030 and facilitate global cooperation, leadership, and innovation in finance and technology
  • Global E-Waste Monitor, in partnership with the United Nations University, and the International Solid Waste Association
  • Digital Agriculture collaboration with FAO to support the agricultural sector with e-agriculture services and applications
  • Innovation for digital transformation by ITU and UNIDO particularly on SDG 9: Joint collaboration on the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa (IDDA III) led by UNIDO in partnership with ITU and other UN organizations and partners, including development of a joint roadmap and a IDDA III high-level event (25 Sep 2019, New York); and collaboration on the Mohammed bin Rashid Initiative (MBR) for Global Prosperity
  • Mobile Learning Week (MLW), organized by UNESCO in partnership with ITU and supported by other partners
  • ITU/World Bank Joint Declaration to enhance cooperation for the advancement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with concreate areas of collaborations such as digital financial service (e.g., FIGI), Regulatory Handbooks, and Regulatory Watch Initiative

Furthermore, ITU continued to work closely with the UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, and the UN Office of the Special Adviser on Africa to bring the potential of ICTs/broadband for sustainable development to these groups of countries requiring particular attention. ITU has also embarked on strengthening joint collaboration with UN entities through collaboration agreements, such as the ones on agriculture (SDG2) and ICTs with FAO; with UNIDO on SDG9 industry, infrastructure and innovation; and with WHO on SDG 3.

ITU collaborated with UNU-EHS, UN-Habitat, UNESCO and UN Environment to organize the side event “City Climate Action! Activating the potential of settlement for low-carbon and resilience nations” at COP25 which took place from 2 to 13 December 2019 in Madrid, Spain. During the side event, the work of ITU on climate change and smart sustainable cities including the activities carried out within the United for Smart Sustainable Cities (U4SSC) initiative have been highlighted as a good example to follow by other stakeholders.

In 2019, ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB) was invited to a panel on 20 November 2019 at UNECE during their 29th session of Working Party on Regulatory Cooperation and Standardization Policies (WP.6), where a facilitated discussion took place on future direction of work on “Standards and sustainable development”.

ITU hosted and co-organized the WSIS Forum 2019 together with UNESCO, UNCTAD, UNDP and in close collaboration with other United Nations Agencies, including FAO, ILO, ITC, UNDESA, UNEP, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNODC, UPU, UN Women, WFP, WHO, WIPO, WMO and UN Regional Commissions. The outcomes of the WSIS Forum 2019 were submitted to the HLPF.

ITU and UNDP as the co-chair of UNGIS (2019) have highlighted that coherence across the United Nations system in the implementation of SDGs and commitments is essential. The members of UNGIS have reaffirmed its role as the inter-agency coordination mechanism for issues related to the implementation of the outcomes of the WSIS. UNGIS members continue to include in its strategic priority the alignment between WSIS implementation and the implementation of the SDGs. !n 2019, ITU in collaboration with UNDP, UNESCO, UNCTAD and the 30 members contributed towards the HLPF 2019 highlighting the importance of Digital Cooperation for digital transformation. Also, the UNGIS portal is being redesigned to make it more interactive and to add a repository of actions/projects by UNGIS members on digital transformation, showing the direct impact of the WSIS Action Lines on SDGs.

ITU also led the elaboration of the WSIS Matrix to map and link WSIS Action Lines with the SDGs. The matrix was a joint effort with UNESCO, UNDP, UNCTAD, UNDESA, FAO, WHO, UPU, UNEP, ITC, ILO and WMO.

6. How has your organization engaged with stakeholder groups, both in supporting implementation at the country, regional and global levels, and within your own organization? If yes, please provide main highlights, including any lessons learned. If your organization has established any multi-stakeholder partnerships to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, please describe them and how their performances are being monitored and reviewed.

ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB) together with Basel Convention Regional and Coordinating Centres (BCRCs) is working with Costa Rica and Argentina in developing two case studies on the implementation of ITU-T Recommendations on e-waste and circular economy. These case studies are being developed within the GEF Project on “Strengthening of National Initiatives and Enhancement of Regional Cooperation for the Environmentally Sound Management of POPs in Waste of Electronic or Electrical Equipment (WEEE) in Latin-American Countries”.

TSB together with Basel Convention, WHO and EIT Climate-KIC developed a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on e-waste highlighting the role of ITU standards in this area. The MOOC is available at: https://learning.climate-kic.org/en/programmes-and- courses/e-waste .

ITU has become part of the Joint IEC-ISO-ITU Smart Cities Task Force, which aims to coordinate the development of smart sustainable cities taking into consideration the values of the SDGs. The task force is expected to deliver new work item in 2020.

ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) has co-financed and co-organized events with stakeholders. Also, the BDT co- financed projects that support the SDGs in the following areas: cybersecurity, e-waster, digital agriculture, smart cities, e-health, emergency telecommunications, capacity and skills development, and infrastructure and network development.

ITU’s membership, which includes private sector and academia in addition to the ones engaged by all UN Agencies, enables the organization to involve a vast variety of stakeholders. For example:

  • Organization of annual events on Girls in ICT including events on Girls Can Code held in Africa and the Arab Region;
  • EQUALS: The Global Partnership for Gender Equality in the Digital Age implemented by ITU, UN Women, ITC, UNU-CS, GSMA;
  • The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development lead by ITU and UNESCO; which includes strong private sector engagement;
  • The United for Smart Sustainable Cities (U4SSC) is a UN initiative coordinated by ITU, UNECE and UN-Habitat, with the support of 14 other UN programmes and agencies, acting as a global platform to support cities to achieve SDG 11: "Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable";

The U4SSC has developed the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for Smart Sustainable Cities (SSC) to support cities worldwide in evaluating the role and contribution of ICTs in smart sustainable cities, and to provide cities with the tools for self-assessments in order to achieve the SDGs;

The U4SSC KPIs for SSC continued to gather momentum as indicators as over 100 cities have already partnered with the U4SSC in piloting these indicators including Alesund, Birzerte, Riyadh, Moscow, Singapore, Dubai and Pully.

To build on the success of the U4SSC KPIs, the U4SSC Index is also being developed to provide cities with the visualization tool to measure and compare their smart performance and sustainability with other cities.

The U4SSC Implementation Program (U4SSC-IP) was also established at the 4th meeting of the U4SSC, which was held on 3 October 2019 in Valencia, Spain and was kindly hosted by the City of Valencia. The U4SSC IP aims to further support the implementation of the U4SSC KPIs in cities, carry out new projects and build strategic partnerships with other SSC stakeholders that aim to build smarter and more sustainable cities worldwide. Over 13 projects are being worked on under the U4SSC IP;

  • Engagement with Academia has, for example, led to a partnership with University of La Plata of Argentina leading to ITU developing a project to establish a Pilot Plant that will provide concrete responses to the E-Waste problems in cities in line with the Sustainable Development Goals This project also seeks to provide assistance to developing countries in the use of ICTs to mitigate

and address the effects of climate change, taking into account the impact of ICTs on the environment;

  • An example of engaging sub-national authorities includes the GSW-19 which was held in Valencia, Spain hosted by the Municipality of Valencia. The event explored contemporary challenges to city governance and the well-being of city inhabitants, examining the role to be played by information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the pursuit of the United Nations' New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals;
  • ITU and its partners, sharing a common community of interest, have recognized the relationship between IMT — International Mobile Telecommunication system — and “5G” and are working towards realizing the future vision of mobile broadband communications;
  • ITU Regional Radiocommunication Seminars (RRS) are organized world seminars on spectrum management held every two years in Geneva, as well as regional seminars aiming at the particular needs of developing countries;
  • Number of global partnerships in the area of Cybersecurity especially in delivering institutional and human capacity building through cybersecurity exercises; In this area we work with multiple partners which include international, intergovernmental and private sector organizations as well as NGOs, Civil Society, Academia, Philanthropies, etc.

Implementation of the WSIS process at the regional level has been growing over the years, while at the same time many WSIS process activities are being shaped to include regional needs and objectives. Strengthening the process of implementation of the WSIS outcomes and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the regional/area offices and together with relevant regional telecommunication organizations, UN Economic Regional Commissions and UN Regional Development Groups, as well as all UN Agencies (in particular those acting as facilitators for WSIS Action Lines), is crucial in furthering the regional activities towards alignment of WSIS/SDG processes.

The recent WSIS Regional Review meeting in Asia Pacific was held on 28 August 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand in close collaboration with ITU, UNESCAP and other regional organizations.

7. Has your organization organized any conferences, forums or events designed to facilitate exchange of experience, peer and mutual learning in connection with the SDGs? If yes, please provide a brief summary, below and include lessons learned and gaps identified based on the outcomes of these events. Please also include any events you want to organize in the coming years.

ITU has numerous conferences, forums and events including the following, which are designed to facilitate exchange of experience, peer and mutual learning:

ITU’s Standardization Bureau (TSB), together with more than 25 Organizations (including six UN agencies) organized the 9th Green Standards Week from 1 to 4 October 2019. The 9th GSW was dedicated to the theme “Connecting Smart Sustainable Cities with the Sustainable Development Goals” and was hosted by the city of Valencia.

The 9th Green Standards Week was concluded with a Call to Action, which captures our commitment to support the transition to Smart Sustainable Cities (SSC) and raising awareness on the role of frontier technologies in tackling climate change and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. This Call to Action is available in English and Spanish.

At the kind invitation of the Nigerian Communications Commission, ITU organized the 1st Digital African Week, which took place from 27 to 30 August 2019 in Abuja, Nigeria. The 1st Digital African Week discussed the role of ITU standards in supporting the transition to SSC and managing ICTs and e-waste sustainably in the region.

TSB together with General Secretariat and Telecom organized two sessions during Telecom World on 11 September 2019 in Budapest, Hungary as follows:

  • Session on Strategies to boost climate action in the ICT sector (9:15 to 10:30) organized with GeSI
  • Session on Frontier technologies for climate change (11:00 – 12:15).

TSB in collaboration with the African regional office, organized a Session on “Smart Sustainable Cities & Communities”, which took place during the 14th Global Forum on Human Settlements (GFHS 2019) on 5-6 September 2019 in the United Nations Conference Center in Addis Ababa (UNCC-AA), Ethiopia, the session was held on 5 September 2019. The session highlighted the role of frontier technologies in accelerating SSC and the SDGs.

Together with U4SSC, OASC, and UNECE, TSB organized a Networking Event on “Governing and managing smart sustainable cities” during the Tenth Session of the World Urban Forum (WUF10) held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) from 8 - 13 February 2020. The event highlighted the core governance and management issues emerged from transitioning to SSC and the role of frontier technologies in accelerating urban innovation and the SDGs.

ITU’s Development Bureau (BDT) organized a number of conferences, forums, symposia, and other events. These include: event with Academia, Global Symposium for Regulators, Regional Development Forums, Financial Digital Inclusion events, Global Forum on Emergency Telecommunications, and others. Also, the BDT organized and held Study Group 1 and 2 meetings which were broad stakeholder based. In the coming years, we will organize the Global Symposium for Regulators, World Telecommunications Indicators Symposia, Capacity and Skills Development events, Global Forums on Emergency Telecommunications, Cybersecurity drills, Girls in ICT events, Regional Development Forums, Regional Preparatory Meetings, and the World Telecommunication Development Conference.

WSIS Forum: The overall theme for WSIS Forum 2019 was “Information and Communication Technologies for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals”. The forum was co-organized by ITU, UNESCO, UNDP and UNCTAD with the involvement of other UN Agencies, including FAO, ILO, ITC, UNDESA, UNEP, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNODC, UPU, UN Women, WFP, WHO,

WIPO, WMO and UN Regional Commissions. Highlights and outcomes include: The participation of more than 3000 information and communication technology (ICT) experts and implementation actors contributing to foster partnerships, showcasing innovation, exchanging best practices and announcing new tools and initiatives to use ICTs to advance the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). From 8-12 April, over 300 content-rich workshops, knowledge cafes and open-space talks enabled on-site

as well as virtual participants from over 150 countries to engage with more than 500 high-level representatives of the wider WSIS Stakeholder community, including ministers and deputies, ambassadors; and leaders from the private sector, academia and civil society. Aligned with both WSIS Action Lines and the SDGs, this year's programme focused on highlighting the linkages between the two, including SDG priority areas such as health, hunger, ICT accessibility, education, youth inclusion, employment, gender empowerment, the environment, infrastructure and innovation.

The forum provided a platform to celebrate the power of innovation as we witness the emergence of the fourth industrial revolution ushered in by emerging technologies such as AI, IoTs, blockchain, 5G and many others. While this offers many opportunities, there are also many development challenges including the risk of a new digital divide. WSIS Forum 2019 was chaired by H .E. Mr. Mustafa Jabbar, Minister, Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology, Bangladesh.

For the last 10 years, WSIS Forum has proven to be an efficient global multi-stakeholder platform that is open and inclusive for all to exchange knowledge and information, enhance collaborative networks, and to share best practices in the ICTs sector. The Forum provides a great opportunity for stakeholders to exchange experiences and learn from each other, which is continued online through the WSIS Stocktaking Database, which collects global examples of the use of ICTs in achieving the SDGs, as well as through the WSIS Action Lines. A selected number of initiatives are granted awards in recognition of their contribution to ICT for development.

8. Is there any other information you would like to share, including annual reports of your organization and any impact assessment or evaluation reports? If yes, please use the space below and attach the document(s). Please also use this space to provide any other information, comments or remarks you deem necessary.

ITU Annual Report 2018: Interactive version | PDF

Additional ITU publications:

D Measuring digital development: Facts and figures 2019

D ICT Price Baskets (IPB)

D ICT Development Index (IDI)

D “Turning Digital Technology Innovation into Climate Action” (September 2019)

D National Cybersecurity Strategy Guide

Other Tools:

D ITU SDG Mapping Tool

D WSIS Stocktaking Database

D WSIS - SDG Matrix

D AI Repository

D Connect 2030 Agenda for Global Telecommunication/ICT Development

D ITU Academy

D Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development

D EQUALS Global Partnership for Gender Equality in the Digital Age Global Digital Gender Equality Action Map

9. In your view, what should strategic directions look like for the UN system in support of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs in the Decade of Action? What key elements should they include and what major challenges should they address?

The need to continually enhance understanding of ICT potential as an SDG accelerator.

Explore better interlinkages at the policy and implementation level between the WSIS Forum and the follow up process for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable development, by the respective Secretariats.

10. Please suggest one or two endeavours or initiatives that the UN system organizations could undertake together to support the implementation of the SDGs between now and 2030.

UN system organizations ought to improve their shared experiences and learn from each other, both successes and challenges