Almost four billion people still lack access to online platform through the internet, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs says, pledging to tackle the divide.
Lenni Montiel, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development at the department, stated this on Tuesday at the 11th annual UN Internet Governance Forum (IGF), which opened in Jalisco, Mexico.
Montiel said delegates from across the world would join thousands more online to weigh the challenges of today’s digital age and equal access opportunities for all members of society.
“International organisations, governments, academics, and technology leaders will gather at the IGF to address the urgent need to intensify global efforts to bridge the digital divide.
“The data predicts that by the end of 2016, close to four billion people will still not be using the Internet, meaning, among others, that two out of three households in developing countries simply do not have access to it.
“Today, the Internet has an impact on just about every aspect of life. It has undeniably sparked innovation and entrepreneurship, created new forms of public engagement and economic activity.
“This helps people connect, organise and act towards a common purpose,” he said.
Montiel also stressed that one of the main goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was to “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”.
The UN official added that the Agenda also established a new universal standard for development that leaves no one behind.
Montiel said each year, the UN convenes the IGF meeting to unify various stakeholders and discuss Internet governance issues, as well as opportunities and challenges in an open, inclusive and transparent forum.
According to him, this year’s theme: Enabling Inclusive and Sustainable Growth, aims to explore the ability of the Internet to foster development in sustainable and inclusive ways.
The forum, which holds from Tuesday to Friday, would also address a broad range of other issues like Internet and Sustainable Development; Access and Diversity; and Youth and Gender Issues.
Other issues to be addressed at forum are Human Rights and Freedom of Expression Online; Cybersecurity; Multistakeholder Cooperation; Critical Internet Resources and Internet Governance Capacity Building and Emerging Issues.
The IGF is recognised as the widest-reaching international forum on Internet governance and is at the forefront of identifying and debating critical issues that shape international agenda.
Its mandate was renewed for 10 years at the World Summit on the Information Society in December 2015. (NAN)