ICTs and Sustainable Development

In recent years, ICTs (information and communications technology) have often been thought of as the key to sustainable and inclusive development, both in rural and in growing urban areas. ICT is a broad term that encompasses a variety of different technologies. However, in the context of development and inclusive development, ICTs generally serve to improve accessibility and improve inclusivity within countries. The WISIS +10 meeting (World Summit on the Information Society) in December of 2015 and the corresponding WISIS +10 outcome matrix explored how ICTs could be used to achieve sustainable, inclusive development. The WISIS +10 matrix found relevant WISIS action lines within all of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This demonstrates the widespread depth and application of ICTs and the developmental process.

However, the study of the role of ICTs in development began far earlier than 2015. The Maitland Commission, published a report titled, “The Missing Link” in 1984 explored the role that telecommunications played in development and the inequities in access to telecommunications that existed. It was published by the International Telecommunication Union. This report is largely viewed as an important step in understanding the relationship between ICTs and development. The report, “Falling Through The Net” published in 1995, continued to build upon the ideas introduced within the Maitland Report through internet accessibility. It also laid the groundwork for future analysis and discussion on the role ICTs in development including the WISIS +10 meeting.

ICT are and should be an inarguable part of sustainable, inclusive development. As was explored in the previous class and blog post, ICTs are essential to the creation of “smart cities.” Smart city initiatives, as outlined in the New Urban Agenda (NUA), are key to successful, inclusive development. Nowhere are ICTS more applicable than in the ever-expanding urban areas throughout the world. However, important steps must be taken to ensuring that ICTs and many of the recourses that they seek to increase access to. As is explored in the Maitland Report, there are often access divides within location and incomes. This phenomenon was explored further in the report further in the report titled, “Falling Through the Net.” However, since the publication of the Maitland Report in 1984, a great number of initiatives have been implemented to try to reduce these gaps. While these initiatives have been met with varying degrees of success the expansion of ICTs throughout the world is undeniable. Because of this steep increase, it can be anticipate that their expansion should continue to increase. However, the inclusive distribution of ITCs and the recourses that they help to access will be much harder to achieve.