The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development called for a joint global effort to achieve universal and meaningful connectivity by 2030.

According to the commission, the collaborative effort must ensure that people around the world are not only connected, but that they also have the skills and knowledge to use that connectivity.

The Broadband Commission – a high level public-private partnership fostering digital cooperation and developing actionable recommendations for achieving universal connectivity – stresses that accelerating universal and meaningful connectivity through partnership and cooperation is essential to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

“We need to build a digital future that is inclusive, affordable, sustainable, safe and people-centered,” says commission co-chair Carlos Slim. “There should be no digital deserts in the world, and there should be no one excluded from connectivity. People have the right to enjoy a safe, productive and affordable online experience. Broadband should enhance the quality of life of everyone.”

The commission has called for innovative investment models to bring together private and public stakeholders to deliver meaningful access and content to those most in need.

“As technology advances and 2.6 billion people remain unconnected, it’s crucial to prioritize universal and affordable broadband access, coupled with investments in digital skills, and the elements that truly define meaningful connectivity, such as inclusive and localized digital content, accessible hardware, cybersecurity measures, and policies that ensure digital inclusion for all,” says Paula Ingabire, Rwanda’s minister of information communication technology and innovation, representing Rwandan president Paul Kagame, co-chair of the commission.

At its annual meeting, the Broadband Commission launched “State of Broadband Report: 2023 Digital Connectivity – A Transformative Opportunity”, which reviews the progress of seven Global Advocacy Targets and highlights the opportunities that would come from broadband that is universally available, equitable and affordable.

This year’s report notes that market trends for consumption and supply are shifting despite gains in connectivity. Those trends may not be strong enough to guarantee that the objective of universal and meaningful connectivity will be met by 2030.

The report offers five considerations for how future efforts on connectivity for digital transformation should be financed and funded:

* Defining measurable goals;

* Addressing barriers to Internet use where coverage is available;

* Broadening the contributor base and implementing creative funding approaches;

* Aligning and incentivizing funding contributors; and

* Building sustainable network infrastructure policies.

“Rapid technological advancements hold transformative potential that, together with a renewed global solidarity and international cooperation, will play an essential role to attain the international development goals,” says Dr Tawfik Jelassi, assistant director-general for communication and information at UNESCO. “The Broadband Commission and UNESCO remain committed to fostering this crucial multi-stakeholder dialogue and producing strategic foresight that will help us set international standards and lead the way in leveraging ICTs for sustainable digital transformation.”