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Web Foundation joins UN for launch of Roadmap to better digital future

Web Foundation · June 16, 2020

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has launched the Roadmap for Digital Cooperation — an initiative to foster global cooperation to tackle the big challenges and embrace the many opportunities that digital technologies offer around the world. 

The Web Foundation and the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) collaborated with the UN to develop the Roadmap and, last week, we participated in the launch to voice support for the Roadmap and call for action in areas needed to reach our destination of a safe and empowering online world for everyone.

Sir Tim Berners-lee, the inventor of the web and our co-founder, called on the UN and its member states to accelerate efforts to increase internet connectivity as countries look to cushion the blow from Covid-19. Sir Tim emphasised the injustice of the 3.5 billion people who remain offline just as digital connectivity has proved essential during the coronavirus pandemic.

The web has been a lifeline to so many during this crisis, enabling work, education and social connections. But we’ve also seen the impacts of gross inequality as almost half the world — 3.5 billion people — remain unable to connect. Our number one focus, as we discuss digital cooperation, must be to close this digital divide.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee

A4AI Executive Director Sonia Jorge also called attention to the digital divide that prevents billions of people across the globe — women and girls in particular — from using technology to improve their livelihoods. Sonia urged policymakers to raise the bar for internet access and ensure an empowering digital future for all by aiming for affordable and meaningful connectivity.    

We cannot allow for continuing inequalities and exclusion to persist. If we short change women, girls, and the unconnected — either because they are poor, rural or remote — we are short changing the world.

Sonia Jorge

Web Foundation Chief Web Advocate Nnenna Nwakanma also challenged policymakers and other stakeholders to aim for meaningful connectivity, so that everyone can take advantage of the full power of the web — including for job opportunities, online learning and access to basic government services.   

I am here to make sure that my generation, the Digital Cooperation generation, will be the one to deliver universal, meaningful connectivity so that everyone can connect every day using an appropriate device with enough data and a fast connection.

Nnenna Nwakanma

Web Foundation President and CEO Adrian Lovett called for universal access to be made an urgent priority, paired with action to ensure our digital technologies are safe and trustworthy. Adrian pointed to the Contract for the Web — the first global plan of action to make our online world safe and empowering for everyone — as a critical route to the web we want.

A safe and empowering web for everyone is our destination. The Roadmap for Digital Cooperation helps us see the routes to getting there. But a road map needs vehicles too. And one powerful vehicle we have at our disposal is the Contract for the Web.

Adrian Lovett

We’re proud that the Roadmap highlights the Contract for the Web as one of the important multi-stakeholder efforts addressing rising threats in the online world. 

We applaud the inclusive and open process that delivered the Roadmap and look forward to continued engagement with the UN to ensure everyone, everywhere can benefit from all our online world has to offer.

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