How can the private sector advance sustainable development with ICT solutions?

  • 10 July 2020

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) will discuss the potential of digital technologies for development and building back better from the current crisis, as part of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) Forum 2020.

In the early 2000s, the Geneva Plan of Action, agreed during the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), identified eighteen areas of activity in which governments, civil society entities, businesses and international organizations could work together to achieve the potential of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for development.

ICC was part of these early discussions and for years rallied businesses across sectors and geographies to advocate for the potential of digital technologies to act as catalysts for accelerated implementation of shared development objectives. As representatives of UN agencies, governments and stakeholders from around the world gather (virtually) for the WSIS Forum 2020, to discuss the progress made on the action lines, ICC will be joining them in a series of workshops and high-level policy discussions to represent the private sector.

These discussions are especially timely, as governments and businesses continue to rapidly adopt digital technologies to enable the continuity of essential services in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Digital solutions have played a key role in mitigating the heavy human and economic effects of the crisis. Yet, the pandemic has also exposed and exacerbated gaps between those who have access to digital technologies and the opportunities that they bring – and those who do not. While we are unable to  predict what the new normal will look like, one thing is clear: achieving meaningful, universal connectivity will be a vital component for  the post-COVID recovery and the key to building back better for more inclusive and sustainable societies.

As a long-time advocate of an open Internet and firm believer in the potential of digital technologies for development, ICC actively contributes  to the WSIS Forum co-organized by ITU, UNESCO, UNDP and UNCTAD year after year to advocate for more sustainable, secure and inclusive digital policies, as well as the continuation of a multistakeholder approach to Internet governance.

Despite this year’s virtual format, ICC will continue to advocate for policies that will enable business to continue and scale up investments and innovation in ICTs.

ICC will host a workshop on 10 July from 14:00-15:00 to discuss the private sector’s role in developing and deploying infrastructure and technology solutions to help counter climate change and support sustainable development. The workshop, entitled, Digital innovation to counter the impact of climate change, will include representatives from the private sector, including Microsoft, and intergovernmental organisations, like the European Union.

Later this month, ICC representatives will join high-level sessions to discuss the importance of inclusivity and the ethical dimensions associated with information and knowledge societies. Crispin Conroy, ICC’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, will participate in a high-level session on Inclusiveness, Access to Information for All on 23 July, 13:00-14:00. Meanwhile, Timea Suto, ICC Knowledge Solutions Manager, will moderate a session on the Ethical Dimensions of Information and Knowledge Societies, which is set to take place on 28 July, 14:00-15:00.