ICTs and Sustainable Development

During week five of class, we focused greatly on ICTs and inclusive sustainable development. While I have previously been aware of the disparities existing around the world regarding the availability of telecommunications technologies, it had never quite occurred to me the extent to which the lack of these technologies also greatly impacts the level of success and development that different regions are able to reach. In one of the readings on the WSIS Forum, there is a chart that outlines each of the SDGs and how telecommunications technologies are involved in reaching that goal. For example, telecommunications technologies are necessary to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture” (WSIS 7), since they can aid in providing farmers with access to necessary information such as information on new farming methods, as well as information on market prices for agricultural products. Access to more relevant information has the potential to empower farmers with the ability to improve their businesses while also encouraging external benefits to society such as more environmentally sustainable agricultural.

The discussion from week five’s class also better informed me on which social groups tend to lack access to telecommunications technologies. For example, we learned that much of the disparities happen within “the poor in central cities and rural areas” (NTIA)– including issues pertaining to the lack in telephone and computer penetration. This lack of connection to available knowledge and communication essentially inhibits people’s capabilities to communicate with outside communities and gain knowledge that may be useful to their daily lives such as new job postings. In relation to upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, I think it is important that the UNGA has reaffirmed their commitment to “build a people­-centred, inclusive and development-­oriented Information Society, where everyone can create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge” (Outcome Doc of the High­-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Overall Review of the Implementation of WSIS Outcomes). Equal access to information technologies should essentially shrink the knowledge gap and increase individual’s capabilities to keep up to date with necessary information that may not always be so readily accessible. Greater access to information also has the potential to contribute to vital development factors such as economic growth and social mobility. Finally, I think one of the most important aspects from the, Outcome Document of the High­-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Overall Review of the Implementation of WSIS Outcomes, was recognizing the fact that shrinking the digital divide will also require many policy and institutional changes around the world such as promoting gender equality as well as affordability of information technologies (as these are both issues that contribute to the digital divide).