On June 3rd, IPI together with Microsoft’s Office on UN Affairs cohosted a virtual policy forum entitled “SDG Zero? A People-Centered Approach to Universal Connectivity.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic has increased reliance on digital technologies, it has highlighted the growing digital divide between and within societies. Universal access to the digital world has become more urgent than ever, and failure to achieve it could undermine progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals. While closing the digital divide and increasing connectivity is among the UN secretary-general’s priorities for 2021, this goal remains elusive and faces many obstacles.
Authored by Jimena Leiva Roesch, Senior Fellow and Head of IPI’s Peace and Sustainable Development Program, the issue brief “SDG Zero? A People-Centered Approach to Universal Connectivity,” is based on a series of three roundtable discussions convened by IPI, together with Microsoft, in March and April 2021. The paper identifies obstacles to universal connectivity and considers how they can be overcome, looking particularly at the human rights risks of rushing to close the digital divide and how these risks can be mitigated. Ultimately, it concludes that achieving meaningful and sustainable progress toward digital inclusion requires all actors to commit to working through a multi-stakeholder platform.
H.E. Mr. Munir Akram, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN, and seventy-sixth President of the Economic and Social Council
H.E. Mrs. Valentine Rugwabiza, Permanent Representative of Rwanda to the UN
Mr. Bryan Kariuki, Director at Mawingu Networks LTD
Professor Antonio García Zaballos, Lead Specialist on Telecommunications, Inter-American Development Bank
Mr. Scott Campbell, Senior Human Rights Officer, UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Ms. Ayaka Suzuki, Director of Strategic Planning and Monitoring Unit, Executive Office of the Secretary-General
Mr. Chris Fabian, Co-Founder, Giga UNICEF
Mr. John Frank, Vice President for UN Affairs, Microsoft
Dr. Adam Lupel, IPI Vice President and Chief Operating Officer