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
The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development - a high-powered and influential community since 2011 is measuring and reporting in its flagship 'State of Broadband' annual report on a set of ambitious Broadband Targets for 2015 which was the first advocacy framework in line with Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), predecessor of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In 2018, given the shift towards new UN development Agenda 2030 and new challenges of a digital world, the Commission re-evaluated and launched new framework of Targets 2025 in support of "Connecting the Other Half" of the world's population. These targets seek to expand broadband infrastructure, and Internet access and use by populations around the world, in support of achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations.
Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development 2025 Targets*:
1. By 2025, all countries should have a funded national broadband plan or strategy, or include broadband in their universal access and services definition.
2. By 2025, entry-level broadband services should be made affordable in developing countries, at less than 2% of monthly gross national income per capita.
3. By 2025 broadband-Internet user penetration should reach:
a) 75% worldwide
b) 65% in developing countries
c) 35% in least developed countries
4. By 2025, 60% of youth and adults should have achieved at least a minimum level of proficiency in sustainable digital skills.
5. By 2025, 40% of the world's population should be using digital financial services.
6. By 2025, un-connectedness of Micro-, Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises should be reduced by 50%, by sector.
7. By 2025, gender equality should be achieved across all targets.
*CC BY 4.0
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.