The UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development says broadband plays a crucial role in building and transforming the world’s economies and societies.
The Commission recently published an open statement addressed to a meeting of the UN High-Level Political Forum (HLPF); which is currently under way in New York.
The HLPF acts as the UN’s central platform for the follow-up and review of the body’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The SDGs are a set of 17 aspiration goals with 169 targets; agreed to at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015.
Currently, around 4.2 billion people, or approximately 57% of the world’s population, do not have internet connectivity for a variety of reasons; among them being a lack of connectivity infrastructure and affordability issues.
The Commission says broadband can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in 5 major areas.
1. As a driver economic growth, prosperity and sustainability
Broadband infrastructure and services can empower people to adjust to rapid changes in technology and labour markets, creating new jobs, products and services.
2. Assist in addressing basic needs
Appropriate ICT infrastructure can help improve supply chains, avoid wastage and improve efficiency in a multitude of areas such as irrigation, energy usage and monitoring of environmental conditions.
3. Addressing poverty by helping to deliver education
Broadband infrastructure can be used to deliver multimedia distance education, lifelong learning, and education for refugees and displaced persons.
4. Improving health services
As well as enabling improved access to remote diagnosis, expert consulting, imagery and information, broadband can enhance the organization and coordination of humanitarian solutions and disaster relief efforts.
5. Monitor climate change
The Earth is undergoing a massive upheaval through climate change and measuring this upheaval involves a huge amount of data that needs to be communicated. Appropriate broadband infrastructure can also help monitor other planetary processes.
“Digital inclusion is of paramount importance to ensure that no one, and no society, is left behind,” states the letter. “Let us grasp this vital opportunity to strive for a world where every citizen can potentially experience the opportunities and benefits of universal, affordable and inclusive access and connectivity to ICTs.”
The Commission has urged HLPF attendees to demonstrate their support for the global roll-out of broadband infrastructure, applications and services; which it says will ensure inclusive economic growth and lift people out of poverty around the world.
The full statement can be viewed here (PDF).
The Commission was originally set up in 2010 as the Broadband Commission for Digital Development. It was re-launched as the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development after the adoption of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in September last year.