Briefing paper

The internet and sustainable development

5 Jun 2015

The past thirty years have seen tremendous growth in the capabilities and reach of information and communication technologies (ICTs). The Internet, especially, has become a critical enabler of social and economic change, transforming how government, business and citizens interact and offering new ways of addressing development challenges. A new approach to development will be agreed this year, when the United Nations adopts a Post-2015 Development Agenda based around Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Internet Society is convinced that the Internet is a unique platform for innovation, creativity, economic opportunity and social inclusion, which can make a major contribution to achieving these. This briefing describes the Internet’s potential and identifies priorities for action.

The Internet will be a powerful enabler for the Sustainable Development Goals which will be adopted in September 2015. Its impact will be felt in all development sectors, from health and education, through agriculture and innovation, to security and the environment. It will increase as the capabilities and reach of Internet networks and services continue to grow rapidly while the Post-2015 Development Agenda is implemented between 2015 and 2030.

More attention must be paid to the relationship between the Internet and sustainable development to ensure that potential gains are maximized. All stakeholders share responsibility to work together to develop policies, services, tools and applications that will bring the benefits of Internet access and use to everyone, improving access to health and education, spreading information and knowledge, enabling innovation and enterprise, and thereby promoting economic growth, social inclusion and environmental sustainability. The Internet Society is ready to play its full part in fulfilling that sustainable development agenda.

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