Rio+20, the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development has recognized in its outcome document the critical role of information and communication technologies (ICT) in accelerating the implementation of sustainable development commitments.
The Rio+20 outcome document has been agreed by UN Member States. It defines the key principles that will guide the international community in the upcoming years to move the sustainable development agenda forward.
The 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, which envisions “The Future We Want”, has singled out information and communication technologies (ICTs) in facilitating the flow of information between governments and the public, promoting knowledge exchange, technical cooperation and capacity building for all three pillars of sustainable development – economic growth, social inclusion and environmental sustainability.
While reaffirming their commitment to the 2005 World Summit on the Information Society, Member States also stated that “information and communication technology (ICT) is facilitating the flow of information between governments and the public. In this regard, it is essential to work toward improved access to ICT, especially broadband network and services, and bridge the digital divide, recognizing the contribution of international cooperation” to enhance agriculture services and improve communication infrastructure, especially in least developed countries and small island developing states (SIDS).
The need for cooperation and sharing of early warning systems from relevant organizations, and the importance of technologies for mapping, observing and sustainable development policy-making were also recognized.
“It is appropriate that Information and communication technologies have been recognized as critical instruments to achieve sustainable development by the landmark Rio+20 conference”, said ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré. “ICTs are unique, cost-effective, inclusive and environment friendly tools to spur green growth and create jobs, promote social progress, and ensure environmental protection and the sustainable future that we want.”
The conference invited the international community, including the UN system, to mainstream sustainable development within its programmes and initiatives, inviting all stakeholders to support developing countries to achieve sustainable development through green economy policies and calling for the strengthening of UN system-wide coherence and coordination.
The agreement is the result of multi-stakeholder efforts initiated in 2011 and built on the legacy of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (the Earth Summit). The essential role of ICTs and Broadband networks was supported by the United Nations Group on the Information Society (UNGIS), the Ministry of Communications of Brazil and a number of other government, business and civil society partners. Together, they reinforced the message that ICTs are cross-cutting drivers of sustainable development.