Partnering to connect the world

Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director, ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau

On the eve of Part 1 of the 5th United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (UN LDC5), I took enormous pleasure in joining public and private partners for the launch of the next key building blocks in our ground-breaking Partner2Connect Digital Coalition.

Partner2Connect is a global, leadership-level multi-stakeholder effort, constructed in close cooperation with the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology, and in line with the UN Secretary General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation.

Why do we need this new initiative? We need it because recent history has shown us just how catastrophic it is to be unconnected, or digitally excluded.

Right now, almost 3 billion people around the world are still without any kind of connection, and many, many more struggle with connectivity so rudimentary or costly that it adds very little value to their day-to-day lives.

New strategies needed

With the UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 and associated targets fast approaching, it’s clear that business-as-usual strategies to connect the world will not cut it.

We need to be bold, creative, and to put in place new kinds of hybrid partnerships between traditional and new players, so that everyone, everywhere, can enjoy equitable, affordable access to life-changing digital platforms and services.

Partner2Connect – or P2C – has four main Focus Areas:

  • Access: Connecting people everywhere;
  • Adoption: Empowering communities;
  • Value creation: Building digital ecosystems; and
  • Accelerate: Incentivizing investments.

These address the core elements vital to nurturing thriving digital markets. They will frame all our P2C actions.

P2C Action Framework and Pledging Platform

On 16 March, during a web dialogue on P2C Focus Area 2, ‘’Adoption: Empowering Communities’’, we launched two critical new elements of the Partner2Connect vision.

The first is the P2C Focus Areas Action Framework, which will serve as the guiding document for the P2C Coalition. This new framework – developed by our dedicated P2C Working Groups and Focus Area Leaders, with the expert support of P2C’s Knowledge Partner, the Boston Consulting Group – highlights the key elements that need to be addressed to achieve universal, meaningful connectivity and digital transformation for all.

The second key element is our all-important P2C Pledging Platform. Through this new online platform, we will leverage the power of partnership to dramatically accelerate efforts to extend meaningful connectivity and digital inclusion globally, including in the hardest-to-connect communities in the world’s least developed countries (LDCs), landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) and small island developing states (SIDS).

Together, the action framework and pledging platform directly respond to the call for accelerated action around digital development in the UN Secretary-General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation. It also reflects, in a very timely manner, the many “calls to action” around digital issues that we see in the Doha Programme of Action for the LDCs newly adopted by the LDC5 conference on 17 March.

After this first part of LDC5 at UN Headquarters in New York, the second part next March in Doha will gather world leaders together with civil society, the private sector, young people and more. There, we will build new plans and partnerships for the delivery of the Doha Programme of Action over the following decade.

Beyond fund raising

P2C is much more than a fund-raising drive. Organizations and entities can make single pledges, multiple pledges, or joint pledges under four category types: financial, policy, advocacy, and programmatic.

Financial commitments and pledges to help push vital infrastructure into out-of-reach communities will certainly be most welcome. But pledges focused on policy can be equally powerful, stimulating organic, sustainable growth in markets through investment-friendly regulatory frameworks.

Advocacy pledges that raise awareness of the many benefits of being connected can drive demand for online services, which translates into further investment. And programmatic pledges in areas like digital skills can translate into digitally empowered populations with the know-how to build compelling new services that address the needs of local communities.

Some of our Coalition Leaders have announced early pledges.I thank these partners in both the public and private sectors – including the Government of Ghana and German development agency GIZ, as well as leading global firms Microsoft and Vodafone – for stepping forward to make these powerful commitments towards achieving universal meaningful connectivity.

Poised for action at WTDC

Time is of the essence. We call on all players across the information and communication technology (ICT) ecosystem and beyond to step up and work with us to connect the 2.9 billion people who are still unconnected, as well as to bring meaningful, life-changing connectivity to the hundreds of millions more who need better access to transform their lives.

Standing alongside all our partners, I look forward to proudly showcase the first fruits of our new P2C Pledging Platform to the whole world at the World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC) in June.

By joining hands and working together, we can really pull out all the stops and “Partner to Connect the World”.

Based on Doreen Bogdan-Martin’s remarks at the launch of the P2C Pledging Platform and Focus Areas Action Framework, as part of the P2C Web Dialogue on Focus Area 2, Adoption: Empowering communities, on 16 March 2022.

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