Senior government representatives from more than 35 Asia-Pacific countries ended three days of talks in Bangkok this week with overwhelming support to develop seamless regional connectivity to increase the availability, reliability and affordability of broadband Internet for all.
The inaugural Committee on Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), convened by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), endorsed the Master Plan and Regional Cooperation Framework Document for the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway which aims to establish and strengthen a regional network between land and undersea-based ICT infrastructure.
Countries in the region additionally recognized the need to develop STI policy priorities and focus areas to effectively harness its potential towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Committee highlighted the importance of ensuring that those most vulnerable are not left behind in the region’s innovation and technology revolution.
“Through this Committee we have built a solid foundation from which we as a region can harness science, technology and innovation to together meet the ambitions of the SDGs,” said United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Dr. Shamshad Akhtar in her closing remarks at the Committee.
Dr. Akhtar added,”ICT and STI are transforming our society on a daily basis. We must be ready to utilize them to solve our development challenges and enable our societies to prosper. ICT and STI can be the engine for future growth and a driver of regional cooperation.”
The first session of the Committee also reviewed ways to reduce the digital divide in the region and utilize space applications and ICT as vital tools for addressing disaster risk reduction and recovery.
Other key events held alongside the Committee session this week included the Asia-Pacific Regional Internet and Development Dialogue, the Regional Meeting on Open Government Data, the Meeting on the Regional Review of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Action Line Implementation, and the Expert Group Meeting on Digital Connectivity for Sustainable Development.