"The Digital Citizen: duties and rights to build a fairer future Society"
December 1, 2022
UNHQ in New York - UN Webcast
The 22nd edition of the Infopoverty World Conference, held on December 1 2022 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York and streamed on the UN Webcast, focused on How the Digital Citizen could, with her rights and duties, build a fairer digital society.
Due to the pandemic, war and climate undergoing crises, we have become aware of the fragility of the current system and the great risks associated with it for our civilization. As a continuation of the 20th and the 21st Infopoverty World Conferences, the participants discussed the main challenges and constraints of the Digital Society, while also considering different solutions that could be implemented, with a particular focus on the main unit of such Society: the Digital Citizen. Together they drew a plan of action encompassing all possible options to empower the protagonist of the change in progress in all her associative dynamics. In doing so, they identified some of the parameters of a new-born civilization to be collected and directed towards a vision that enhances human rights and finds inspirations in the SDGs proclaimed by the UN as the operational compass for orientation.
The individual can no longer only be considered as mass or a simple economic data - everyone ought to become a Global Citizen through the use of available digital tools, in an adequate manner, in order to obtain the rights to education, equality, food-security, health and social justice, while simultaneously breaking down existing barriers of exclusion. In the meantime, governments have the duty to establish and guarantee the conditions and services necessary for this to be realized, adjusting innovations and private investments, facilitating technological and ecological transformation in open and shared terms to favor universal active participation while building a fairer and more inclusive society for everyone. This calls for algorithms of powerful platforms to be globally oriented towards the guarantee of human rights and the achievement of SDGs, supported by legitimate keys and regulations. In this context, building Artificial Intelligence for the common good requires high level ethical skills and capabilities for it not to become a marketing product, but rather globally applied as a digital process optimization tool. If not properly implemented, it risks bringing the world's transformation into unimaginable scenarios. Thus, it must be directed in a way in which it ensures the protection of human rights.
On these premises,
the successful path of the Infopoverty World Conference – organized since 2001 by OCCAM at the UNHQ in New York – whose Final Declarations constitute a thread to recognize and comprehend the occurrences of the Digital Revolution towards the achievement of the SDGs – former MDGs – implementing solutions to fight poverty through e-services4dev in the ICT Villages and disadvantaged communities in the fields of education, telemedicine and food-security within the Infopoverty Programme and its projects annually drafted by the Conference in view of the UN 2030 Agenda;
the important contributions exposed during the five previous steps of the conference:
76th Session of Third Committee on Social, Humanitarian & Cultural Issues – Civil Society Consultation, February 16, 2022, online;
25th Commission on Science and Technology for Development promoted by UNCTAD, March 28 – April 1, 2022, Geneva;
UN Habitat 76 Dialogue to Impact Change Reflections from the UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on the Implementation of the New Urban Agenda, April 28, 2022, online;
World Summit on the Information Society Forum 2022, May 30 – June 3, International Telecommunications Union, ITU – Geneva;
XXIV Euromediterranean Conference on Cinema “Cinema Evolution in The Digital Era - The Mediterranean as paraphrase of the world”, 9 September 2022, Venice International Film Festival, Lido di Venezia;
The conference explored some already operational aspects formulating specific recommendations:
Assure global connectivity and open internet to all as prerequisite to create a fairer Society, leaving no one behind, achieving on the SDGs, promoting an operative alliance with the SAT communication companies for the coverage of remote areas in order to ensure a meaningful access for all.
Transfer technologies and competence to the farmers as they restore their degraded lands and build drought resilience, implementing knowledge and tools, empowering them with distant assistance network of centers of excellence, to eliminate hunger, lifting millions of people from extreme poverty and endorse Green Taxes on re-forestation, efficiently yielding crops and fruit trees in remote areas to empower Infopoverty platform for e-services and counteract climate change, promoting Disaster Risk Reduction measures based on Sendai plan.
Ensure the right to education to all, providing digital supports, especially for young people to shape their future in their own language and within their own culture, working for the reinforcement of UNESCO Convention 2005.
Guarantee health assistance to all, overcoming pandemic risks, implementing telemedicine infrastructures associated with the most advanced internationally recognized platforms in order to ensure medical consult and training at distance in communities and countries in need, creating a Global Telemedicine e-Centre.
Smart cities and Smart/ICT Villages are two faces of the same coin: the acceleration in urbanization must be accompanied by a symmetric development on the rural front, empowering communities’ capacity to fight poverty while also eliminating slums and sharing the accumulation of wealth to assure real sustainability in such transformation process, for a better environment in a fairer digital society. To do so, establish a dashboard to promote best practices (i.e. UN Millennium Village of Sambaina, Madagascar) referring to ITU’s Broadband Commission recommendations and to the MoU on Indigenous people development signed at the 2005 WSIS in Tunis by ITU, OCCAM and Navajo Nation.
The potentials of digital technology and ICT should be maximized in the design and planning of our physical environment ranging from objects to buildings and communities, including infrastructure, housing, mobility, and the public realm,
Promote cultures and skills, stimulate creativity and enrich young people. New e-platforms are to be envisaged, actively entrenched in the dynamism of the emerging society, guiding the transition to digital away from the old paradigm and towards a collective elaboration of ideas and trends, seeds of an incumbent future where inequalities, injustices, hunger and conflicts are not encouraged nor tolerated. Invite to support the activities promoted by the International Council of Cinema and Television at UNESCO.
Artificial Intelligence will be the matrix of change. As such, this progressive elaboration cannot constitute a private enterprise, but rather, it must serve the common good for its global implications to impact the human destiny good. Governance could be more linked to the people’s way of life, shaping the new Society models from pyramidal asset to interactive decision system led by A.I., based on Algorithms able to guarantee the respect of human rights. One practical turn could be the launch of a prestigious Award, the Golden Algorithm Prize, assigned to the best A.I. solution by a jury composed of participants to the conference.
Address communication systems and innovation flows so that they could stress opportunities for all people to become digital citizens (through Media and Information literacy, fight to Digital Divide and so on) in and with all their rights, equipped from now on with the adequate ICT infrastructure, available ICT skills and capacities, solid and safe regulatory frameworks, integrated and interoperable information system and active engagement for them to access, exploit and benefit from digital innovation services, guaranteeing inclusion and participation of all, thus responding to the call of the UN Secretary-General for a GDC – Global Digital Compact – to build back better and accompany the “paradigm shift” we are experiencing.
The Participants thrust that this Declaration will be supported and endorsed by all public and private stakeholders interested to contribute to build a fairer and inclusive digital society, inspired by the UN Agenda 2030.
To this end, they assume the aforementioned operative suggestions as an Action Plan to be presented in the various international related fora (such as WSIS, IGF, Climate Change’s COPs and DRR Global platforms), exploited during the next Infopoverty follow up meetings, giving mandate to OCCAM to continue as Permanent Secretariat of the Infopoverty Conference and Programme, and organize the next 23rd Infopoverty World Conference on the theme of asynchronism in the development processes in the perspective of the 2024 UN Summit of the Future.
UNHQ, New York, 1 December 2022