The first UNGIS meeting took place in Geneva, at ITU Headquarters on Friday, 14 July 2006 .
Information Note to the Press:
International steps taken to build global Information Society
United Nations agencies to coordinate implementation of WSIS Plan of Action
Geneva, 20 July 2006 — Implementation of the outcomes of the recently concluded World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) gathered momentum with the launch of the United Nations Group on the Information Society (UNGIS). High level representatives of twenty-two UN agencies met on Friday, 14 July 2006 at ITU Headquarters in Geneva under the chairmanship of ITU Secretary-General Yoshio Utsumi to facilitate the process.
UNGIS will serve as an interagency coordinating mechanism within the UN system to implement the outcomes of WSIS. The Group will enable synergies aimed at resolving substantive and policy issues, avoiding redundancies and enhancing effectiveness of the system while raising public awareness about the goals and objectives of the global Information Society. UNGIS will also work to highlight the importance of ICTs in meeting the Millennium Development Goals.
To maximize its efficiency, the Group agreed on a work plan in which it would concentrate its collective efforts each year on one or two cross-cutting themes and on a few selected countries.
In the coming period, UNGIS will focus on bringing the efforts of the UN system to bear on expanding access to communications, for instance through multimedia community centres, teleshops, etc. Drawing on the respective competencies of the different members of the Group, UNGIS will also focus on applications related to e-health and e-tourism. At the same time, the Group will examine the e-readiness strategies and policies of one or two countries, to be proposed by UNDP, to develop a comprehensive toolkit for bringing the benefits of the Information society to developing countries.
During the first year, UNGIS will be chaired by ITU, with UNESCO, UNDP and WHO acting as vice-chairs.
UNGIS has been established by the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, at the request of the Summit and in consultation with members of the UN system Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB).
WSIS has contributed towards a better understanding of the key issues and challenges of the Information Society. Throughout the process, critical issues such as infrastructure, capacity building, the regulatory environment and financing have been discussed and refined. Pioneering work on financing ICTs for development and on internet governance has resulted in the most comprehensive international documents ever endorsed on the topics at the international level.
The Summit set critical targets for global connectivity and ICT for development to be reached by 2015 and established 11 action lines to achieve the objectives of the Information Society. The outcome outlines a detailed blueprint involving governments, the private sector, civil society, the United Nations and other international organizations for implementation and follow-up at the national, regional and international levels.