The WSIS Forum provides an excellent opportunity to highlight key development and access issues as colleagues and friends gather to discuss how connectivity helps to bridge digital divides, spurs innovation, enables trade, healthcare, families to stay in close contact with each other, and preservation of local heritage and culture. As discussions in Geneva turn to “how to” achieve UN Sustainable Development Goal objectives, we know that “business as usual” has to change. See our Statement from the Internet Society’s VP of Global Engagement, Raul Echeberria, on the role we all play to fill in connectivity gaps and to enable communities to connect themselves, taking advantage of technology for development.
Why focus on Small Island Developing States?
Small Island Developing States are a distinct group of developing countries that are characterized by vulnerabilities as a result of geography, their small populations, limited export base, higher exposure to global economic disruptions, and frequent natural disasters. Many Small Island Developing States face challenges with Internet connectivity due to their remoteness and the high cost of crossing open seas. When you combine these factors with small populations and low economies of scale, higher connectivity costs and challenges result in delayed uptake.
The release of this report also coincides with the 25th anniversary of the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, where Small Island Developing States were recognized as a distinct group of countries with unique challenges for sustainable development.
What do we explore in this report?
We explore the health, financial, and educational impact of improved connectivity and the challenges for improving it, including economic, access, social, cultural, and environmental issues. And, we take a look at how internet exchange points (IXPs), Wifi, and emerging technologies can provide opportunities for improved connectivity and local network development. We make recommendations for improved policy and regulatory environments, looking closely at six (6) countries through case studies: Cape Verde, Comoros, Haiti, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tonga, and Vanuatu.
Local change happens with local heroes
This report stresses the importance of dialogue for local sustainable development and action that policymakers, regulators, business, international partners, and local actors can take to close connectivity gaps. We believe that local solutions and new partnerships to connect communities are critical. Communities are the new “first mile.” Let’s find ways to connect them.
We welcome your feedback on this report and look forward to any case studies or stories you would like to share with us. Through partnerships and by empowering local people we can connect more people, improve people’s lives, and create socioeconomic opportunities.
Note: We are extremely grateful to Mike Jensen and Michael Minges for their work on this report and the global community of experts who reviewed and provided input to this report.