High-Level Track Of WSIS Forum 2017 Breaks All Records 23/06/2017 by Elise De Geyter for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The number of participants, sessions and the quality of the contributions of the different speakers has never been as high as during this year’s edition of the World Summit on the Information Society Forum (the WSIS Forum 2017), according to organisers. WSIS High Level Track The WSIS Forum 2017, which took place from 13-16 June, was co-organised by the UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU), UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), UN Development Programme (UNDP) and UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) (IPW, WSIS Forum, 14 June 2017). Jean Philbert Nsengimana, minister of Health and ICT of Rwanda and chairman of the WSIS Forum 2017, said that the forum’s High-Level Track, held from 13-14 June, “broke all records”. Members of the “WSIS Stakeholder Community”, representing the government, private sector, civil society, academia and international organisations, delivered policy statements during the 14 high-level policy sessions during the High-Level Track of the WSIS Forum 2017, according to ITU. The High-Level Track facilitators presented the key elements of the different sessions of the High-Level Track during a concluding session on 15 June. Potential of ICT Philipp Metzger, director general of the Federal Office of Communications of Switzerland (OFCOM), said that ICT can be “incredibly powerful” in, for instance, transforming education, health care and the way we do business. There must be “special and relentless efforts” to “harvest the full potential of ICT,” he said. Enhancing the cooperation on national and international level with different stakeholders is not a new idea, Metzger said, adding that it is still not sufficiently done and often not done with the right attitude. Reine Essobmadje, co-founder of the non-profit organisation Digital Coalition, said that national parliaments should include ICT as “a key enabler for change” in all their activities and budgets. Shernon Osepa, regional affairs manager for the Latin America & the Caribbean Bureau of the Internet Society (ISOC), said that technology can be used to advantage to predict national disasters. A shift is needed from a consumer mentality to an entrepreneur mentality, according to Osepa. The youth need to be trained for the future challenges, she said. Digital Divide André Lucas Fernandes, lawyer and researcher on law and technology at the Federal University of Pernambuco in Brazil, said the digital divide needs to be addressed as “an emergency.” The digital divide is “the biggest challenge put for everyone today,” he added. Nitya Khemka, affiliate lecturer at the University of Cambridge, said that bridging digital divides remain “a critical challenge.” Radical new approaches are needed to make sure that nobody is left behind, she added. Gayatri Khandhadai, project coordinator of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), said that the people without access to the internet will become even more marginalised. Challenges for ICT Security and privacy issues of users have been compromised so far, Khandhadai said. We need to move toward an internet that protects human rights, he added. Brenda Aynsley, chairman of the International Professional Practice Program (IP3), Australia Computer Society (ACS) fellow, International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP), said that more needs to be done to improve trust in technology and human actors. The key challenge is to overcome “the degradation in trust that emerges with each cyberattack,” she said. Consumers do not have any chance to evaluate the security of the devices they are using, according to Aynsley. Building confidence is something that never ends, she said. She raised the question whether it is safe that Amazon holds its customers’ credit card details and that mobile phones track all the movements of their users. Digital literacy is a main motivator to build confidence, she said, “the more you know, the more you can protect yourself,” according to Aynsley. Frank La Rue, assistant director-general for communication and information at UNESCO, underlined the need for preventive policies. It is not to say that we should fear technology, as “technology will always be positive,” he said. But this does not mean that we should not look at the social implications of technology. La Rue mentioned the Digital Skills for Decent Jobs for Youth Campaign, a campaign launched by ITU and the International Labour Organization (ILO) that aims at bringing five million job opportunities for young people worldwide in the digital economy. Nsengimana said that a hackathon against hunger will be organised during the WSIS forum next year. This year, a hackathon called Hack for Health was organised with 44 participants from 60 different countries, during the WSIS Forum 2017, Jaroslaw Ponder, the strategy and policy advisor and coordinator for the Europe Region at ITU, said during a press briefing. Elise De Geyter is an intern at Intellectual Property Watch and a candidate for the LLM Intellectual Property and Technology Law at the National University of Singapore (class 2017). 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