IFIP President Anthony Wong participated in three UNESCO panels at the recent WSIS (World Summit on the Information Society) 2024 in Geneva:

  • The “WSIS Action Line C3: Guaranteeing the online space for all” panel discussion on the evolution of access to information in the past 20 years on 29 May 2024;
  • “The Future of AI in the Judiciary” panel on 29 May 2024 and on the UNESCO Guidelines for the Use of AI Systems by judicial operators (separate article); and
  • The WSIS Action Line C7 “E-science: Assessment of progress made over the last 20 years” panel on 30 May 2024.

With the deadline to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) fast approaching, WSIS is poised to address the critical role of the intersection of ICTs and sciences in accelerating progress towards the goals and more …

Ahead of the WSIS+20 review in 2025, the UNESCO “Guaranteeing the online space for all” panel facilitated a multi-stakeholder dialogue on the progress, obstacles and emerging trends related to access to information. It also explored innovative approaches and strategies to empower all stakeholders in leveraging the benefits of information and knowledge for inclusive development. 

The panel, moderated by Davide Storti from UNESCO, delved into the following key aspects: 

  • Highlighting advancements in legal frameworks, digital technologies and capacity-building initiatives that have expanded access to information globally.  
  • Highlighting the importance of digital connectivity and the free flow of, and access to, information as a vital means to support an open international community that upholds stability, security, rule of law, prosperity and promotes sustainable development.
  • Key Challenges: Examining persistent barriers such as lack of implementation, digital divides, threats to media freedom and the spread of disinformation and misinformation.  
  • Emerging Trends: Exploring the implications of emerging technologies like AI, data privacy concerns, the role of private platforms and innovative approaches like data collaboratives and citizen science.  
  • Way Forward: Discussing strategies to strengthen normative frameworks, foster multi-stakeholder cooperation, invest in skills development and promote universal access to information and knowledge for all.

Mr Wong attended the UNESCO “E-science: Assessment of progress made over the last 20 years” panel with fellow panellists including Lidia Borrell-Damián, Secretary General of Science Europe, (which represents national public organisations that fund and perform research in Europe), Dr Bob Jones from CERN, Dr Bhanu R Neupane of UNESCO, Dr Johan Rooryck of cOAlition S, Dr Rajinder Jhol, GEF and with contributions from Joice Benza, President of the Computer Society of Zimbabwe. 

The panel debated some of the most important issues in the intersection of new technologies and science, including:

  • Which new policy frameworks are required to optimise the role of emerging technologies, ensuring their accessibility, safeguarding digital rights and promoting openness in the scientific domain? 
  • How can eScience contribute to improving the accessibility of new technologies for the broader scientific community?
  • What forms of Openness and Innovation must be fostered to enhance the accessibility of new technologies to sciences?
  • Open standards, open-source technologies, and open data essential for fostering innovation and collaboration to leverage the power of new technologies for solving complex global challenges and driving sustainable development.
  • What new collaborations are essential to encourage multistakeholder collaboration in harnessing the potential of new ICT solutions for scientific innovation?
  • What new rights-Based approaches are essential in the wider domain of science and technology and innovation?

IFIP is a supporting partner of WSIS and has played an active role in the event over the past decade and more.

Mr. Wong spoke at the WSIS Closing Address, detailing IFIP’s various activities throughout the event and expressing his gratitude for the opportunity to contribute in this way.

His Excellency Professor Muhammadou M.O. Kah, Chair of the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) has invited IFIP to contribute to the preparation of the WSIS 20 year review report which the CSTD Secretariat will prepare for the consideration of the Commission during its 28th annual session in 2025.