Digital Inclusion

Copyright:  UNICEF/Florine Bos

Ensuring digital inclusion of all, including the most vulnerable

There is growing global consensus that the Information and communication technologies (ICTs), and particularly Internet are providing a new framework and huge opportunities for economic, political and social development. The World Summit for Social Development (WSSD, Copenhagen, 1995) recognized that the new information technologies and new approaches to access to and use of technologies by people living in poverty can help in fulfilling social development goals; and therefore recognize the need to facilitate access to such technologies. WSSD emphasized that promoting access for all to education, information, technology and know-how is an essential means for enhancing communication and participation in civil, political, economic, social and cultural life, and for ensuring respect for civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.

The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), Geneva 2003 – Tunis 2005, the Copenhagen Declaration and Tunis Commitment all recognized that ICTs is a key to eradicate poverty and unemployment and the importance of building a people-centred, inclusive and development oriented Information Society, where everyone can create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge, enabling individuals, communities and peoples to achieve their full potential in promoting their sustainable development and improving their quality of life.

Photo ITU

During the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, Governments recognized that ICTs are facilitating the flow of information between governments and the public. In this regard, it is essential to work towards improved access to information and communications technology, especially broadband networks and services, and bridge the digital divide, recognizing the contribution of international cooperation in this regard.

The Outcome Document adopted at the the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 13–16 July 2015) called for the establishment of a Technology Facilitation Mechanism, a collaborative multi-stakeholder forum on science, technology and innovation for the sustainable development goals and an online platform.

Road map for digital cooperation: implementation of the recommendations of the High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation Report of the Secretary-General

Road map for digital cooperation: implementation of the recommendations of the High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation Report of the Secretary-General (in all UN official languages)

Road Map for Digital CooperationThe world is shifting from analog to digital faster than ever before, further exposing us to the vast promise and peril of new technologies. While the digital era has brought society many incredible benefits, we also face many challenges such as growing digital divides, cyber threats, and human rights violations online.

This report lays out a roadmap in which all stakeholders play a role in advancing a safer, more equitable digital world, one which will lead to a brighter and more prosperous future for all.

The implementation of the Secretary-General’s Roadmap is led by the Office of the Envoy on Technology.

The UN Common Agenda

UN Common AgendaOur Common Agenda is the Secretary-General's vision for the future of global cooperation. It calls for inclusive, networked, and effective multilateralism to better respond and deliver for the people and planet and to get the world back on track by turbocharging action on the Sustainable Development Goals. It outlines possible solutions to address the gaps and risks that have emerged since 2015, calling for a Summit of the Future that will be held in 2024.

Our Common Agenda contains recommendations across 4 broad areas for renewed solidarity between peoples and future generations, a new social contract anchored in human rights, better management of critical global commons, and global public goods that deliver equitably and sustainably for all.

Across the 12 commitments from the Declaration on the Commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations

Download "Our Common Agenda"

Digital Divide

Underserved groups need equal access to digital opportunities. Digital divides reflect and amplify existing social, cultural and economic inequalities. Digital challenges affect especially women, persons with disabilities, people on the move, older persons, young people, rural populations, and indigenous peoples. We must close these gaps through better metrics, data collection, and coordination of initiatives.

Everyone Included

** When everyone is included, everyone benefits **

Definition of Digital Inclusion

Digital inclusion is defined as “equitable, meaningful, and safe access to use, lead, and design of digital technologies, services, and associated opportunities for everyone, everywhere”.

Digital inclusion is enabled by human rights-based, intersectional, and whole-of-society policies and multi-stakeholder approaches and actions, that take into account the various barriers individuals face when accessing and experiencing digital technologies. Human rights are to be promoted, protected, respected, and enjoyed online as they are offline, and the specific needs of individuals need to be taken into consideration in the digital world so as not to leave anyone behind. Digital inclusion should aim to dismantle existing structural social inequalities and enhance well-being for all. We must aim for inclusion that is equitable, so that everyone online has the same opportunities and that marginalized communities are not left behind. For everyone who wants to be connected, we should guarantee the availability and accessibility of the Internet, digital devices, services, platforms, and relevant content; affordable access to them and to critical digital and other skills, education, and tools; and equitable participation in safe, discrimination-free online spaces, with the opportunity to create content and consider and involve different groups in the design, development, testing, and assessments of digital devices, services, platforms, and policies.

Definition Digital-Inclusion  

Online Global Dialogue on Digital Inclusion for All, 9 February 2021

By adopting the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development, Member States committed to achieving sustainable development for all nations and peoples and for all segments of society. The Agenda is based on the ideals of inclusiveness and shared prosperity and Member States pledged to leave no one behind and to endeavor to reach the furthest behind first.

Digital technologies – the internet, mobile phones, and all the other tools to collect, store, analyze, and share information digitally – have spread rapidly in much of the world. Many of us depend on them to work, to educate the young, and reach out to our friends and family. These technologies have enabled digital public services, digital payments, online learning, telehealth, online shopping and more. However, about half the world’s people access and use the Internet, the other half do not. Millions of people cannot work or go to school remotely or access technology and its benefits. Many of the unconnected live in least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing states, and within countries in rural and remote areas or urban impoverished areas.

Digital divide still persists between more and less connected countries, communities, and people. Enabling all the world’s people to access and use digital technologies (the Internet including mobile technologies) – and closing digital divides- remains a challenge that needs to be addressed if the world community is to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

Building on the outcome of the meeting UNDESA’s Division for Inclusive Social Development, in partnership with ITU, organized an online global dialogue on “Digital Inclusion for All”. The event gathered high-level technical experts, as well as representatives of Governments, civil society, academic institutions, and the private sector to discuss the urgency of addressing digital inclusion for all.