ITU and UNESCO set up the
Broadband Commission for Digital Development in response to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon's call to step-up UN efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The Commission was established in May 2010 with the aim of boosting the importance of broadband on the international policy agenda, and expanding broadband access in every country as key to accelerating progress towards national and international development targets. It defines practical ways in which countries — at all stages of development — can achieve this, in cooperation with the private sector.
Following adoption of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals in September 2015, the Commission was re-launched as the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development to showcase and document the power of ICT and broadband-based technologies for sustainable development. It continues the work of and builds upon the legacy of its predecessor by bringing together a high-powered community, including top CEO and industry leaders, senior policy-makers and government representatives, international agencies, academia and organizations concerned with development. Leaders in their field, they each believe strongly in a future based on broadband and offer rich insights and experience in how to deploy and use broadband networks and services to the benefit of communities and end-users. The Commission embraces a range of different perspectives in a multi-stakeholder approach to promoting the roll-out of broadband, as well as providing a fresh approach to UN and business engagement.
Advocacy and Policy Leadership
The Broadband Commission engages in high-level advocacy to promote broadband in developing countries and underserved communities. One of the central roles of the Commission is to advocate for higher priority to be given to the development of broadband infrastructure and services, to ensure that the benefits of this technology is realized in all countries. Governments and industry need to work together, hand-in-hand, to devise strategies for driving the roll-out of these networks much more proactively.
To date, the Commission's outcomes have included an annual State of Broadband report since 2010, working groups on thematic areas from health to education , and two meetings every year. The Commission also leverages its high-profile Commissioners to spread the message of Broadband for Sustainable Development at key events, conferences and functions.
The Broadband Commission has issued a number of calls to action and high-level manifestos on behalf of the group's members, directed at key decision makers at the G20, the United Nations and delegates at ITU's 2014 Plenipotentiary Conference (PP-14).
Monitoring and Evaluation
In 2011, the Broadband Commission agreed a set of four 'ambitious but achievable' targets that countries around the world should strive to meet in order to ensure their populations fully participate in tomorrow's emerging knowledge societies. These targets cover broadband policy, affordability and uptake:
In 2013 Commissioners gathered for the 7th meeting and agreed to a new target designed to spur female access to the power of information and communication technologies (ICTs).
Call to Action
Above all, the Commission believes that the benefits of broadband as critical infrastructure for accelerating the achievement of the MDGs and its successor framework of post 2015 can only be fully realized if there is a high-level recognition of the importance of broadband. This is why many Commissioners have committed personally to issuing a call to action through their many activities and engagements.