21 September 2017
Broadband Commission on Sustainable Development Publications Advance SDGs on Education, Gender, Innovation
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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The Working Group on Education’s report, titled ‘Digital skills for life and work,’ emphasizes the importance of ensuring that everyone has the necessary digital skills to succeed in today’s technology-driven world.

The Working Group on the Digital Gender Divide issued a progress report titled ‘Bridging the gender gap in Internet and broadband access and use’.

The Working Group on Technologies in Space and the Upper-Atmosphere issued a report, which finds that satellite and high altitude systems can help expand broadband coverage in developing countries and remote areas and advance the SDGs in a quick, cost-effective and environmentally responsible manner.

18 September 2017: The working groups on education, the gender digital divide, and technologies in space and the upper-atmosphere of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development have launched a series of reports advancing implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Broadband Commission, which was established by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2010, aims to support relevant stakeholders in leveraging the potential of information and communications technologies (ICTs) to drive national sustainable development.

The Working Group on Education’s report, titled ‘Digital skills for life and work,’ emphasizes the importance of ensuring that everyone has the necessary digital skills to succeed in today’s technology-driven world. It looks at the role the education sector plays in this regard, noting that schools and other education institutions are only now beginning to teach digital skills. The report underscores the importance of government involvement and teacher training, and highlights a “skills gap” where gender, class, geography and age can affect the ability to harness new technologies. The report recommends that governments, inter alia: maintain public sector involvement in digital skills development; address inequalities in the provision of digital skills; promote open digital resources and fulfill the needs that commercial providers do not meet; and foster partnerships to expand and improve the quality and relevance of digital skills development. The report points out that educating people in the use of broadband technologies can help realize the SDGs, such as SDG 4 (quality education), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth) and SDG 10 (reduced inequalities). [Digital Skills for Life and Work] [Broadband Commission on Sustainable Development Working Group on Education Website] [ITU Press Release]

The three reports by the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development help advance the SDGs, including SDG 4 (quality education), SDG 5 (gender equality), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure) and SDG 10 (reduced inequalities).

The Working Group on the Digital Gender Divide reported on progress made in meeting commitments outlined in the March 2017 ‘Recommendations for action’ report, which details ways in which stakeholders can address the gender gap in Internet access and use. The progress report, titled ‘Bridging the gender gap in Internet and broadband access and use,’ also introduces new commitments to action by Working Group members. It provides updates on actions taken in four areas: improving stakeholders’ understanding of relevant contexts by supporting the collection, tracking and analysis of sex-disaggregated data on Internet access and use; integrating gender perspectives in relevant strategies, policies, plans and budgets; addressing barriers related to affordability, access and use, digital literacy and confidence, and the availability of relevant content, applications and services; and supporting stakeholders to more effectively collaborate in addressing digital gender gaps by sharing good practices and lessons learned. These efforts will help advance SDG 5 (gender equality), among others. [Bridging the Gender Gap in Internet and Broadband Access and Use] [Working Group on the Digital Gender Divide] [ITU Press Release] [Working Group Recommendations for Action]

The Working Group on Technologies in Space and the Upper-Atmosphere issued a report, which finds that satellite and high altitude systems can help expand broadband coverage in developing countries and remote areas and advance the SDGs in a quick, cost-effective and environmentally responsible manner. Titled ‘Identifying the Potential of New Communications Technologies for Sustainable Development,’ the report calls for governments and other stakeholders to support policy decisions that promote further development and adoption of space-based and upper-atmosphere technologies, and classifies recommendations in three categories covering spectrum, regulation and technology promotion. The report concludes that: the technological revolution in space and upper-atmosphere communications will help facilitate broadband capacity globally; the “ubiquity, reliability, mobility and improved capability” of these technologies are ideal for expanding the Internet’s reach to rural and remote areas and for contributing new capacity and applications in urban and suburban areas; and these technologies can work with terrestrial fixed and mobile systems to help develop an omnipresent 5G ecosystem. Such efforts will help achieve the SDGs, particularly SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure). [Identifying the Potential of New Communications Technologies for Sustainable Development] [Working Group on Technologies in Space and the Upper-Atmosphere] [ITU Press Release]

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