STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE GROUP OF 77 AND CHINA BY THE PERMANENT MISSION OF THE COOPERATIVE REPUBLIC OF GUYANA TO THE UNITED NATIONS DURING THE CONSIDERATION OF AGENDA ITEM 16: INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, AT THE GENERAL DISCUSSION OF THE SECOND COMMITTEE - SEVENTY-FIFTH SESSION (New York, 9 October 2020)
1. I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
2. At the outset, the Group of 77 and China wishes to reiterate the importance of Information and Communications Technologies in strengthening oversight and accountability within the Organization, especially in the context of the ongoing reform initiatives.
3. We acknowledge that ICTs hold tremendous potential for the eradication of poverty, adapting to climate change and accelerating progress in education, health and gender equality, among others. However, more needs to be done towards achieving the goals of connectivity and to maximize the value of technology for the enhancement of sustainable development for all peoples.
4. We note in the Secretary General's Report on Progress towards Sustainable Development, that more than half of the world's population is now online. At the end of 2019, 53.6% of individuals, or 4.1 billion people, were using the Internet.
5. Nonetheless, the report also highlights that due to a lack of infrastructure and the high cost in many developing countries, there were almost no fixed-broadband connections. There remains within most developing countries, limited broadband access particularly in rural areas, posing a risk of failure to harness the potential of ICTs for sustainable development to leave no one behind.
6. As such, we reaffirm that in order to address the digital divide and enhance access to ICTs, it is important to adopt a multidimensional approach, including but not limited to quality, affordability, relevance, and local content.
7. In addition, it is also crucial that developed countries and relevant stakeholders provide enhanced and coordinated support to developing countries to address the digital divide through technology transfer, technical assistance and capacity-building.
8. We applaud ongoing efforts to help to bridge the digital divide and expand access, including the Connect 2030 Agenda for Global Telecommunication Development. However, greater commitment is needed to significantly increase universal and affordable access to the Internet by the Least Developed Countries.
9. We call on all stakeholders to set as a high priority, the goal of bridging the digital divide between and within countries, and to focus on ICT policies and applications, including access at the grass roots level, with a view to building information and knowledge societies.
10. The Group wishes to highlight the stark disparities in access to high-speed connectivity that have prevented billions of adults and children worldwide from benefiting from remote working, learning and communication. This is especially troubling, with the COVID-19 pandemic significantly underscoring humanity's growing reliance on information and communications technologies for business continuity, employment, education, healthcare, and other services that are vital for all societies. We call on Member States to create an enabling regulatory environment within the private sector that will result in more widespread and affordable access to these services.
11. We reiterate the importance for member States to foster an open, fair and non-discriminatory business environment for common development and address data security in a comprehensive, objective and evidence-based manner, so that a secure and stable supply chain of global ICT products and services could be maintained.
12. We also reiterate the call for government-led projects that will leverage the transformative capability of information and communications technologies through better awareness and capacity building.
13. We urge the International Telecommunication Union to continue to work with the ICT community and UN agencies to help address the current health crisis and recover better. The Group also emphasizes the role and mandate of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) in articulating STI as enablers of the SDGs.
14. We look forward to working closely and constructively with our development partners during the deliberations on this agenda item, to ensure the attainment of inclusive sustainable development, particularly through information and communications technologies.
I thank you.