IFIP Steps Toward Digital Equity: WITFOR (World IT Forum)

International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP)

IFIP undertakes a number of activities under the umbrella of the World Information Technology Forum (WITFOR). The overall goal of WITFOR is to assist developing countries in developing and implementing sustainable strategies for the application of ICT and to share experiences that will help to bridge the digital divide and improve the quality of life. The generic goals are:

• Help to put ICT-enabled development initiatives on the agenda of different organizations, governmental bodies, and groups currently involved in ICT.
• Work with different groups to ensure that senior policy makers and political leaders are aware of the developmental potential of ICT and promote its diffusion and sustainable effective use.
• Assist international organizations and donor agencies to include issues of the spread of ICT and access to information into their loan and funding programs and be more pro-active in using new technologies to reduce existing social tensions and conflicts.
• Encourage scholars, analysts and researchers to put the issue of digital equity higher on their research agendas.
• Encourage industrialized nations, as individuals and groups, to listen to and learn from colleagues around the world about their unique concerns over access to ICT.
• Develop guidelines on these issues and advise governments, to formulate and follow the best strategy for the use of ICT in order to achieve global ICT-equity.

WITFOR examines different initiatives on effective, context sensitive development and use of ICT applications, access to quality relevant information, and the development of “fair use principles”. In particular the WITFOR events are intended to:

• help put ICT-enabled development initiatives on the agenda of different organizations, governmental bodies, and groups currently involved in information and communications technologies;
• work with different groups to ensure that the issue of ICT diffusion and sustainable effective use is on the agenda of senior policy makers and political leaders;
• assist international organizations and donor agencies to build issues of the spread of ICTs and access to information into their loan and funding programs with adequate financial and institutional allocations;
• develop guidelines on these issues and advise governments, to formulate and follow the best strategy for the use of ICT in order to achieve global ICT-equity.

The forum will address issues critical to developing countries, such as providing the necessary infrastructure and education and the application of ICT in for instance fighting health issues, improving health, agriculture and environmental sustainability.

In the proposed panel session the panellists will discuss with the participants what specific goals (cells in the action lines – SDG matrix) can be addressed by this approach, who could and should be partner in these efforts and how can we take this to the next level.

The national, regional or international activities oriented to these goals should be linked with the WSIS Forum. For example, the IFIP World Information Technology Forum, WITFOR 2016 (San José de Costa Rica, September 12-14, 2016, witfor2016.org) should be used in the next WSIS Forum as a source of cross sectoral projects done specially in developing countries.

With the format of a panel discussion it is proposed to take the main topics of WITFOR 2016, in line with the UN SDGs, as discussion topics:

• ICT and cross-cutting development issues, involving human, environmental and economic development challenges
• ICT and human development challenges
• ICT and environmental challenges
• ICT and economic development challenges

Moderator

Ramon Puigjaner, IFIP Vice-President

Speakers / panellists
  • Leon Strous, IFIP President will present the general goals of WITFOR since its beginning in 2003 in Vilnius (LT) and followed in the successive editions (Gaborone (BW) in 2005, Addis Ababa (ET) in 2007 and Delhi (IN) in 2012.
  • Ramon Puigjaner, IFIP Vice-President will present the particular goals and activities to be held in the 2016 edition.
  • Ahmed Elsherbini, Chief, Conferences and Publications Department, International Telecommunication Union, ITU, for his position in the ITU will present how activities like WITFOR cooperate with the general goals of ITU, in general, and with those of WSIS, in particular.
  • Raymond Morel, Swiss Informatik Gesellschaft and Swiss representative at the IFIP General Assembly, in his position of member of IFIP Technical Committee 3 on Education will present how the work of this Technical Committee goes in the direction of progressing toward Digital Equity.
Link to WSIS Action Lines
  • C1. The role of public governance authorities and all stakeholders in the promotion of ICTs for development
  • C2. Information and communication infrastructure
  • C7. ICT Applications: E-government
  • C7. ICT Applications: E-learning
  • C7. ICT Applications: E-health
  • C7. ICT Applications: E-environment
  • C7. ICT Applications: E-agriculture

To see the relation between the WSIS Action Lines and WITFOR it is necessary to know the main goals of WITFOR 2016 (the goals with low relation with WSIS Action Lines have been suppressed):

a) ICT and cross-cutting development issues, involving human, environmental and economic development problems:
• ICT and climate change
• Digital divide
• E-government
b) ICT and human development problems:
• ICT and health
• ICT and education
• ICT and gender
c) ICT and environmental problems:
• ICT and water, including sanitation
• ICT and sustainable production and consumption
• ICT and biodiversity
d) ICT and economic development problems:
• ICT and sustainable economic growth
• ICT sector and economic growth
• ICT and infrastructure and industrialization

Link to the Sustainable Development Process
  • Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  • Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  • Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all
  • Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  • Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  • Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
  • Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries
  • Goal 11: Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  • Goal 15: Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss
  • Goal 17: Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

As in the case of the WSIS Action Lines a simple comparison between the above SDGs and the WITFOR topics (just the related topics have been
retained) justifies the links between both.

a) ICT and cross-cutting development issues, involving human, environmental and economic development problems:
• ICT and climate change
• ICT and sustainable energy
• Digital divide
• E-government
• Smart cities

b) ICT and human development problems:
• ICT and poverty
• ICT and food security
• ICT and health
• ICT and education
• ICT and gender
• ICT and human settlements

c) ICT and environmental problems:
• ICT and water, including sanitation
• ICT and sustainable production and consumption
• ICT and sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources
• ICT and biodiversity
• ICT and the combat of desertification

d) ICT and economic development problems:
• ICT and sustainable economic growth
• ICT sector and economic growth
• ICT and infrastructure and industrialization
• ICT and innovation

About Raymond Morel (2239 Articles)
Raymond Morel is a member of the Board of Directors at SI and is President of Social-IN3, a cooperative of a researchers’ convinced of the need to address new challenges of today's Information Age, which is slowly and surely modify the entire society.

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