" ITREALMS: UNGIS mobilises agencies for Information Society

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

UNGIS mobilises agencies for Information Society

Remmy Nweke

STRIVING to live up to the expectation of Information Society exponents, the office of the Secretary General, United Nations (UN) has inaugurated the UN Group on the Information Society (UNGIS), to strategise and mobilise all its agencies for Information Society readiness.

The group drawn from high-level representation of 22 UN agencies came on stream recently, following a conclusion of meeting at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and chaired by its Secretary General, Mr. Yoshio Utsumi.

It would be recalled that UNGIS was established by Mr Kofi Annan, at the request of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and in consultation with members of the UN system Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB).

Chief, Coordination External Relations and Communication, Mr Arthur Levin, said the group would serve as an interagency coordinating mechanism within the UN system to implement the outcomes of WSIS.

UNGIS, he said, would enable synergies aimed at resolving substantive and policy issues, avoiding redundancies and enhancing effectiveness of the system while raising public awareness about the goals and objectives of the global Information Society.

UNGIS will also work to highlight the importance of ICTs in meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

In order to maximize efficiency, the group, he said, agreed on a work plan which would concentrate its collective efforts each year on one or two cross-cutting themes and on a few selected countries.

UNGIS also would focus on bringing the efforts of the UN system to bear on expanding access to communications, for instance, through multimedia community centres, teleshops, among others.

Drawing on the respective competencies of the different members of the group, UNGIS will also focus on applications related to e-health and e-tourism. At the same time, the group will examine the e-readiness strategies and policies of one or two countries, to be proposed by UNDP, to develop a comprehensive toolkit for bringing the benefits of the Information society to developing countries.

He explained that during the first year, UNGIS will be chaired by ITU, along with United Nations Education and Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and World Health Organisation (WHO) acting as vice-chairs.

“WSIS has contributed towards a better understanding of the key issues and challenges of the Information Society,” he asserted.

Noting that throughout the two-phased summit process, critical issues such as infrastructure, capacity building, the regulatory environment and financing have been discussed and refined.

Pioneering work on financing ICTs for development and on internet governance has resulted also in the most comprehensive international documents ever endorsed on the topics at the international level.

The summit set critical targets for global connectivity and ICT for development to be reached by 2015 and established 11 action plans to achieve the objectives of the Information Society.

He further said, the outcome outlined a detailed blueprint involving governments, the private sector, civil society, the United Nations and other international organizations for implementation and follow-up at the national, regional and international levels.

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