World Summit on Information Society puts technology at forefront of sustainable development


​​​​Leaders and decision-makers in the rapidly evolving digital sphere have affirmed their commitment to harness new and emerging technological solutions for the good of all of humanity.

This year’s World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum, building on a wide-ranging international policy discussion process started in 2003, reasserted the vital link between digital technologies and global action to ensure sustainable development.

Information and communication technology (ICT) experts and implementers fostered ground-breaking partnerships, showcased the latest innovations, exchanged best practices, and announced new tools and initiatives, particularly in the Forum’s intense final week in Geneva, Switzerland.

This year’s programme aligned internationally agreed WSIS Action Lines more closely than ever before with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations for 2030. Key linkages include digital solutions to protect and advance indigenous languages, support older persons, and create employment, as well as step up climate and environmental action, promote inclusion for youth and older persons, and ensure gender equality and accessibility for all.

“Digital technologies offer solutions to all these challenges,” said Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), one of the Forum’s main organizers. “In these past 11 weeks, the WSIS Forum has brought to life the many benefits of ICTs in areas as critical and diverse as education, health, financial inclusion, climate change, accessibility, cybersecurity, smart cities, and many more.”

Broad engagement

The final week brought together more than 1,000 participants for policy discussions and prize ceremonies in Geneva, on top of over 30,000 engaging via online sessions since 15 March.

ITU hosted and co-organized WSIS Forum 2022 with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in close collaboration with other UN agencies.

Nigeria’s Federal Minister for Communications and Digital Economy, H.E. Professor Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), chaired WSIS Forum 2022 and committed to continue in the role until next year’s Forum.

The Forum Chairman looked ahead to the 2025 WSIS Review process, highlighting his firm belief that this would be a critical global milestone. The WSIS community in the meantime needs to focus on designing a review process that is thorough, inclusive, and effective. “I am willing to invest my own time and effort in guiding this process,” he said.

He further suggested forming a high-level expert group to design this 2025 WSIS Review, taking into consideration any guidance from the upcoming ITU Plenipotentiary Conference.

Outcomes and prizes 

Key WSIS Forum 2022 outcomes include:

  • ​Enhanced UN commitment: The UN Group on the Information Society (UNGIS) reiterated its commitment to the WSIS Process and Action Lines implementation and alignment of the WSIS and SDG processes, and a need to strengthen the visibility of UNGIS at the political level in Geneva and New York. UNGIS members concluded with a decision to prepare an action plan for the implementation of the UNGIS activities at the technical and political level for 2022-2023 and a decision to prepare an activity report for submission to the HLCP and CEB. UNGIS member agencies will also inform of opportunities to raise the visibility of UNGIS in the context of high-level intergovernmental meetings and discussions, and other UN and global discussions on priorities on digital for development issues and where digitalization is crucial for addressing global challenges. ITU was appointed as the UNGIS chair for the year 2022-2023, with the Vice-Chairs: UNCTAD, UNDP, UNESCO, UN ECA.
  • ​​Stronger regional action: UN Regional Commissions pledged to strengthen regional-level WSIS action through multi-stakeholder platforms and a series of regional face-to-face meetings. The UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) was nominated and appointed as the WSIS Regional Commission Group Chair for 2022-2023.
  • Sustainable development alignment: The Forum’s Ministerial Roundtable emphasized the importance of the WSIS Action Lines to achieve SDGs and the need to keep the WSIS Process aligned with the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 40 participating Ministers and Deputies called for close integration of SDGs into the annual WSIS Forum agenda, reiterating the need to make sure developing countries, including the world’s least developed countries (LDCs), are not left behind in fast-paced global ICT evolution. The WSIS Forum serves as a vital platform to issue recommendations on ICTs for sustainable development, participants agreed, adding that its Ministerial Roundtable component should be further strengthened with cross-sectoral dialogues next year.
  • Ongoing diplomatic engagement: Ambassadors will continue to receive regular briefings on the WSIS Process and associated initiatives, including through regular WSIS TalkX sessions. Ambassadors at a high-Level briefing requested the addition of a special track on climate change starting in 2023. In addition, they urged the ITU Secretary-General to highlight WSIS Forum outcomes at ITU’s World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC), running from 6 to 16 June in Kigali, Rwanda.
  • Aligning with the decade of indigenous languages: The Hackathon on Indigenous Languages jointly organized by ITU and UNESCO attracted 691 participants from more than 75 countries, with three winners being announced during the final week of WSIS Forum 2022.
  • Awards celebrating innovative solutions:

    – WSIS Prizes 2022 winners and champions represented a wide range of WSIS stakeholders from seven continents.

    – Winners of the WSIS Forum Photo Contest 2022 highlighted the enabling role of ICTs in the pursuit of sustainable development.

    – ITU, in collaboration with the Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA), awarded the WSIS Healthy Ageing Innovation Prize 2022 to China’s HiNouNou platform, an open app ecosystem centred on older adults to promote healthy longevity.

    – WSIS Gender Trendsetters identified at the 2022 Forum submitted pledges for action to improve digital gender inclusion.

New initiatives and partnerships

Multiple newly announced initiatives and partnerships aim to keep driving inclusive, sustainable digital transformation over the coming year and beyond.

Examples include:​

  • WSIS-SDG Metaverse Global Prize and Virtual Reality (VR) Competition 2023, to be organized in collaboration with Exponential Destiny
  • WSIS Special Prize: Healthy Ageing Innovation Prize 2023, be presented by ITU and GCOA in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA)
  •  WSIS Special Prize: Indigenous Languages Prizes 2023
  • Multistakeholder Dialogue with Mayors, Chiefs of Villages, and Community Leaders, to be continued and strengthened in 2023 through collaboration involving ITU, the Geneva Cities Hub, the City of Geneva, and the Mayors Roundtable.
  • WSIS special track focussed on academia and research exchange, initiated at the WSIS Forum’s first-ever Academic Roundtable, to engage academic communities in cross-sector digital projects
  • Special WSIS Prize 2023 for Best Digital Service Design in collaboration with GovStack Global – ITU, GIZ, EE, DIAL
  • Launch of the CIO Digital Leaders Forum during High-Level track at WSIS 2022
  • Held the 1st Episode of GovStack CIO Leaders Forum at a WSIS Thematic Workshop
  • Misinformation: Digital Marketing of Harmful Products to Children, an initiative launched jointly by WHO, ITU and UNESCO
  •  Safe Listening, launched by ITU and WHO in collaboration with the UN Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries
  • Qatar training sessions on Digital Accessibility
  • WSIS Multistakeholder Alliance on ICTs and Older Persons:

– Awareness building on opportunities and challenges

–  Intergenerational working groups with enterprises, held in collaboration with the Centre for Socio-Eco-Nomic Development (CSEND)

– Engagements with parliamentarians, with a focus on the protection of women parliamentarians in cyber space, in collaboration with Tanzania’s Hon. Neema Kichiki Lugangira.

– WSIS Gender Repository Trainings, organized in collaboration with Vision Empower, with upcoming sessions to focus on:

Sensitization for women and girls about the crucial role of technology in the lives of visually impaired people, with awareness raising through four quarterly workshops

​Training for educators and caregivers who work with, or are willing to work with, visually impaired people, through twice-yearly workshops ​

WSIS Forum 2022 publications:

The following publications will be made available on the WSIS Forum 2022 website:​


  • WSIS Forum 2022: Outcome Document
  • WSIS Forum 2022 High Level Track Outcomes and Executive Brief
  • WSIS Action Lines Supporting Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (2022)
  • WSIS Stocktaking Report 2022
  • WSIS Forum 2022 and SDG Matrix
  • WSIS Stocktaking Success Stories 2022
  • WSIS Forum 2022: Report – WSIS Action Lines: Building back better from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

Resources and background information:

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