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United Nations Assumes Major Role in Broadband Deployment

Broadband Enables Sustainable Development and Economic Prosperity


After declaring access to the Internet a "basic human right" in 2011, the United Nations continues to forge ahead by publishing recommendations for countries to adopt broadband strategies.

According to the 2011 report published by the Broadband Commission for Digital Development:

“To optimize the benefits to society, broadband should be coordinated on a countrywide basis, promoting facilities-based competition and with policies encouraging service providers to offer access on fair market terms… efforts should be coordinated across all sectors of industry, administration and the economy.”

The report emphasizes the prominent role broadband plays in both economic development and preserving the environment. By emphasizing the unique role broadband can play in addressing sustainability challenges, as well as spurring economic development and improving quality of life, the UN makes a strong case to support broadband development efforts on a global scale.

Read an Article About the UN's Broadband Report: The Broadband Bridge; Linking ICT With Climate Action for a Low-Carbon Economy

Following publication of the report in 2011, the UN developed a "Call to Action" for world leaders to take in preparation for the Rio+20 sustainable development summit, scheduled to take place in Brazil in June, 2012. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the summit, "One of the most important conferences in the history of the United Nations."

The Call to Action says broadband can "Integrate the three pillars of sustainable development," and calls upon world leaders to take the following steps:

During the Broadband Leadership Summit, which took place in Geneva on 25 October 2011, we challenged the global community to work together to promote “broadband inclusion for all” as a means of accelerating progress towards achieving the MDGs by 2015.

The National Broadband Strategy in the United States

Through our Broadband Challenge, we called on global leaders to make broadband policy universal, develop policies to expand access to health and education through broadband and ensure that at least half the developing world’s population and 40% of households in developing countries are using broadband Internet by 2015. We also invited the private sector to contribute to this goal by developing innovative business models to realize this vision. This Broadband Challenge is today more relevant than ever.

How Broadband has Transformed Society

To turn this vision into action, we urge the global community to acknowledge the potential of broadband for progress and sustainable development in the outcomes of the Rio+20 conference, and to include access to broadband for all as one of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) that need to be achieved to move the sustainable development agenda forward.

We underline the crucial role of the media and broadband for public information on sustainable development as well as the considerable potential of social media and social networks in this domain. We call on global leaders to commit to freedom of expression, press freedom and access to information and knowledge.

The time is right to make the best use of all the opportunities at hand to eradicate poverty and move the sustainable development agenda forward together. The time is right to leverage the transformational power of broadband to support the outcomes of the Rio+20 Conference.

The Economics of Broadband

With this statement, we submit our pledge to support a sustainable future for all. We shall continue our advocacy work as the Broadband Commission for Digital Development to accelerate the achievement of the MDGs by 2015 through the opportunities afforded by digital inclusion for all and to support the definition of the post-2015 sustainable development framework.

The Call to Action continues the momentum established after the original report was released in 2011, and moves the global community closer to attaining the four goals established by the UN Broadband Commission.

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