Newsletter, Issue No 3, 2016


obama image
©M. Ngan

President Barack Obama has issued an Executive Order on 24 June that institutionalizes the Global Connect Initiative for the next 5 years, led by U.S. Department of StateMs Catherine A. Novelli, Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment and the Broadband Commissioner. As an Executive Order (EO) from the President, it mandates that Global Connect becomes U.S. Law with implications that all U.S. development and financing agencies create fully-funded, long term PPPs for broadband globally and to promote economic development. The EO also highlights the linkage between connectivity and entrepreneurship and how the goal of extending universal, affordable connectivity to the rest of the world is a Presidential priority.  Full text of the Executive Order at the White House website.


Watch Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment and Broadband Commissioner Catherine Novelli discuss the Global Connect Initiative


Broadband Commission activities in a nutshell

The Broadband Commission has endorsed a high-level statement directed at key decision-makers at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey held on 23 and 24 May.
image01aThe Broadband Commission recognizes that the world is facing humanitarian needs on a massive scale, and reaffirms its belief that broadband/ICTs have provided us with the tools to address key challenges in new and innovative ways, and which can improve the response time for millions of people affected by conflicts and disasters. image02aDigital inclusion is of paramount importance to ensure that no one, and no society, is left behind. Let us grasp this vital opportunity to strive for a world where every citizen can potentially experience the opportunities and benefits provided through affordable access and connectivity to ICTs. We urge delegates at the World Humanitarian Summit to connect people in the world through broadband and fully use technologies for inclusive economic growth, social cohesion, digital inclusion, and the sustainable management of our natural resources“.  The Statement is available in the 6 UN languages


The Working Group on Digital Health co-chaired by Dr Ann Aerts, Novartis Foundation and Nokia convened its second onsite meeting on 23-24 May 2016  on the occasion of the High-level policy Dialogue on Digital Health
held in Geneva, Switzerland under the framework of the ITU m-Powering Development Initiative and in conjunction with the 69th World Health Assembly (WHA-2016).

The meeting of the Working Group brought together 20 health experts and WG members to discuss the evolution of the report and recommendations.

©ITU/A. Polomska


Other news

  • OECD-Ministerial1Some Commissioners were featured speakers at the OECD Ministerial Meeting 2016 for the Digital Economy: Innovation, Growth and Social Prosperity, in Cancun, Mexico on 21-23 June. The OECD-ITU Innovation Dialogue was also held on 23 June, with the intention of exploring the grassroots approach to optimize the benefits of the digital economy through multiple stakeholders and global partnership in a converged innovative ICT ecosystem.
    image 15cDuring the meeting, OECD and IDB released the Broadband Policies for Latin America and the Caribbean: A Digital Economy Toolkit which is the outcome of a two-year collaborative project that involved 26 countries in the LAC region. This publication sheds light on good practices and case studies, based on a whole-of-government approach. Its aim is to offer public authorities an overview of the policies, regulatory practices and options that can maximize the potential of broadband as a driver of economic and social development.
  •  GEM-TECH Awards 2016 by ITU and UN Women is now open for nominations.

Submit your application online before 31st July 2016!

  • The Broadband Commission will convene for its next meeting on September 18th 2016 in New York, in conjunction with the UN General Assembly.image16

ICTs and Broadband Reports – snapshot

  • image07On 12 May Ericsson and the Earth Institute at Columbia University released their new report: How Information and Communications Technology can Accelerate Action on the Sustainable Development Goals highlighting the role of ICTs in accelerating achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. The report calls on governments to harness technology, investment and new types of partnerships to achieve the UN SDGs, and features case studies to illustrate the transformative potential of ICT with analysis of current SDG indicators.
  • In May, Nokia published its annual People and Planet Report for 2015.
    Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri highlighted that “Nokia’s focus on high ethical imagehstandards means that while our company saw significant transformation in 2015, our sustainability vision remained the same: to design technologies that expand the human possibilities of the connected world while making it more productive, healthy and sustainable. Following the combination with Alcatel-Lucent, we are undertaking a new sustainability analysis in order to create the necessary measurable, long-term goals to ensure that Nokia’s success in 2015 is benchmarked – and improved upon.”
  • image11aThe Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) report, #SystemTransformation: How digital solutions will drive progress towards the sustainable development goals, published in collaboration with Accenture Strategy, demonstrates the impact that digital technologies can have on shaping a more sustainable future, and highlights the opportunity for companies in the ICT sector to drive growth and competitiveness by investing in these initiatives. The report also identifies roadblocks to realizing the full potential of these digital solutions, including policy, regulatory and supply-side constraints, as well as barriers on the demand-side.
  • The latest edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report reveals that the Internet of Things (IoT) is set to overtake mobile phones as the largest category of connected device by 2018.image20

ICT, Broadband and 17 Sustainable Development Goals – columns & blogs

  • Taking Action on the Sustainable Development Goals – a blog post by Ericsson’s Elaine Weidman-Grunewald,
    elaine.weidman-grunewald-1describes ICT as a catalyst for achievement of the UN SDGs by 2030. This piece presents a new report published by Earth Institute at Columbia University and Ericsson, in collaboration with ITU and the GSMA.
  • Humanitarian Aid is as Close as your Phone a blog post by Gary Fowlie,
    untitled ITU reveals that the need to find new and innovative solutions to providing humanitarian aid, such as those deployed by frontline aid agencies, is one of the principal reasons that the UN convened the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey on 23 and 24 May. The blog highlights that mobile connectivity is rapidly becoming both an essential tool of personal empowerment and a catalyst for sustainable global development.
  • image17A Vimpelcom blog on Correcting the Digital Gender Gap highlights the vital role of operators and digital players in addressing the gender gap. Crucially, we can use our strength to reach out to men and demonstrate that digitally empowering women and girls will improve their own quality of life, and where needed, identifying how they can best help.
  • Dr David Nabarro – Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Climate Change, addressed the ITU Council 2016 on June and explained ITU’s vital role in achieving the SDGs in his guest blog.

    Watch ITU interview with Dr David Nabarro
    Watch the ITU interview with Dr Nabarro


Siyabonga Cwele, Houlin Zhao, Hamadoun Touré, Jean Philbert Nsengimana

Several Commissioners including President Kagame (Rwanda) Minister Cwele (South Africa) and Mr Zhao (ITU) participated in the World Economic Forum on Africa from 11 – 13 May in Kigali, Rwanda.
Under the theme “Connecting Africa’s Resources through Digital Transformation”, discussion centred around topics including partnership, mobilization, infrastructure, long-term investing and socio-economic development for the continent. A report was launched to coincide with the event  highlighting the existence of roughly 200 African innovation hubs, 3,500 new tech-related ventures, and U.S.$1 billion in venture capital for African start-up.


  • The 4th Global Conference Women Deliver was held in Copenhagen, Denmark on 16-19 May 2016 as the world’s largest global conference on the health, rights, and wellbeing of girls and women in the last decade. Women DeliverVarious Commissioners, including Kathy Calvin, Helen Clark, Mats Granryd, Anthony Lake, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Hans Vestberg were featured speakers. A special session lead by GSMA on Accelerating Digital and Financial Inclusion for Women focused on bridging the gender gap in digital inclusion and digital financial inclusion.
  • The ITU high-level inter-ministerial Policy Forum on “Digital Health for Healthy Lives and Well-being for All was held in Geneva, on 23 and 24 May 2016Aerts bringing together Ministers of Telecommunication/ICT and Ministers of Health. Dr Ann Aerts, Head of Novartis Foundation and a Commissioner, spoke in the session on Broadband as an Enabler for Health about how broadband can act as a catalyst for Digital Transformation in the health sector.
  • SPERANZA NDEGE photoCommissioner Dr Speranza Ndege (Kenyatta University) initiated a 3-day broadband sensitization programme for new students at the University, many of whom had never used a smartphone before. The physical event was complemented with a broadcast version of the programme televised on KUTV, a popular youth channel with nation-wide coverage. The programme will be scaled-up, and will run at the start of each new semester (3 times a year) in future.
  • vimpelcomHow can digital technology make a difference? See how Make Your Mark helps young people shape their future, contributing to the UN SDGs – video by VimpelCom.
  • Midterm Review conference for the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries took place in Antalya, in the south of Turkey, from 27 to 29 May. Commissioner

    Gyan Chandra Acharya, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, told reporters at a press briefing “[The conference] is important as it is taking place at a midpoint of the decade long Programme of Action, in the first year of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the other global development frameworks,”. More about the conference in the UN News Centre.

  • UNESCO is contributing to advancing digital security of journalists. UNESCO’s Assistant Director General for Communication and Information, participated in the side-event on the Safety of Journalists that took place in the framework of the 32nd session of the Human Rights Council on 16 June in Geneva, Switzerland.

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