Eighteenth Session of the
UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development,
May 4, 2015
As Delivered by
Ambassador Daniel A. Sepulveda
Coordinator for International Communication and Information Policy
Madam Chair and respected colleagues, we appreciate the opportunity to join you for this critical conversation.
When the world gathered a decade ago at the World Summit on the Information Society, those present put forward a vision and challenge for all stakeholders to come together in pursuit of the development of a people centered information society.
Today, the evidence indicates that the community of industry, government, civil society, academia, technologists, and activists that work to expand access to communications has done an admirable job in implementing the WSIS vision. And the report we are considering today captures much of that work. In her forward to that document, Chairman Johnson commended the work of the Secretariat in drawing on previous reports and an open consultation with all stakeholders to provide an overarching assessment of the WSIS to date.
We echo her words, “I commend the work and am convinced that this report provides an excellent basis for the CSTD’s review which, in turn, will contribute to the overall review by the General Assembly in December 2015.”
Thank you Madam Chair, for your work and your leadership.
Colleagues, the world, its connectivity, and people’s access to information has come a long way over the last decade, further than most could have expected and in ways that none of us predicted.
Today we are embarking on an important mission of the overall WSIS review. The Commission’s role to support the Economic and Social Council as the focal point for the system-wide overall WSIS review is recognized in ECOSOC and General Assembly Resolutions adopted last year. We are pleased that the Commission has ably responded to those Resolutions by preparing a balanced, inclusive, and thorough 10-Year Review.
Take a minute to consider the world we live in today compared to that under examination at the WSIS a decade ago:
- 87 percent of the World’s rural population was covered by mobile networks by the end of 2012, up from 45 per cent in 2003. And the wireless networks of today are dramatically more capable of delivering much richer services than those in service in 2003.
- Over wire, international bandwidth delivered through submarine cables is estimated to have grown by more than 50 percent each year between 2007 and 2012 – making the promise of broadband accessibility a reachable goal in much of the world.
- And the proportion of households with a computer worldwide rose from 26.2 percent in 2005 to 40.7 percent in 2012 due to declining costs while still delivering improved performance.
This is a record of global advancement – achieved by various stakeholders in the Internet community. And leveraging the talents and passion of stakeholders moving forward is how we will address the remaining gaps and tackle new challenges.
There remains a lingering digital divide between and within countries, including between rich and poor, men and women, and urban and rural communities. The report notes gaps and challenges across all the WSIS Action Lines that require continued focus and work. It is important that the international community look for ways to address these lingering issues in 2015 and beyond, and the United States of America is prepared to do its part. Our work on the WSIS action lines is not done and the Action Lines will continue to be relevant going forward as the Information Society continues to grow and evolve.
The Review also highlights the value of the Internet Governance Forum. We continue to support the work underway to improve the IGF and thank the Commission once again for its related working group effort several years ago to provide comprehensive recommendations toward that goal. IGF has served an important role, it will continue to do so, and we continue to advocate for the extension of its mandate. We look forward to joining the community for the IGF in Brazil this year and hopefully in Mexico the following. The energy our colleagues in Latin American have brought to the IGF is welcome and promising.
We believe that connecting all of the world’s people to the global network, and ensuring that they have the skills and freedom to use that connectivity productively, is our highest mission. It was addressed as such at the original WSIS meetings in 2003 and 2005, and we cannot afford to lose our focus on its overriding importance as we enter the overall WSIS review. We also cannot afford to deny that the challenge of fully engaging in the information society remains disproportionately real for women and disenfranchised communities. Governments will not solve these challenges alone nor will we solve them by centralizing direction or control. We live in an age that requires cooperation and collaboration among stakeholders.
We continue to welcome multistakeholder participation in the important work of the CSTD. We believe that including all voices in our discussions – Member States, civil society, academia, the technical community, and business – is the best way, the most just and sustainable way, to implement the WSIS vision.
We look forward to the deliberations this week. We will pursue consensus and are committed to working in good faith to fulfill our public mission. Thank you.