Brussels, 16 Dec 2003
On the final day of the World Summit on the Information Society, the representatives of 176 different nations agreed on a 'plan of action' designed to deliver the benefits of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to all parts of the globe.
Agreement on the plan of action followed the summit's endorsement of a declaration of principles, a document setting out a common vision of the values on which an information society should be based.
Key principles agreed on by world leaders include allowing all people to access and contribute information, ensuring that each person can acquire the necessary skills to participate in the information society, and promoting equal access to scientific and technical information, including open access initiatives for scientific publications.
The plan of action, meanwhile, outlined more concrete targets for countries to achieve by 2015. Some of the most ambitious include connecting all of the world's villages, universities, colleges, schools and research centres with ICTs, and ensuring that all local and central government departments have websites and e-mail addresses.
School curricula should also be adapted 'to meet the challenge of the information society, taking into account national circumstances,' the plan of action states. Universal access to television and radio services is also considered an important goal.
The plan suggests that technical conditions should be put in place to ensure that all of the world's languages are used on the Internet, and that more than half of the population of the world should have access to ICTs within their reach.
The plan of action contains a section on e-science, which restates the desire for open access to scientific publications, and promotes the use of peer to peer networking in order to share vital knowledge. Countries should also promote the systematic collection, dissemination and preservation of essential scientific data, such as population and meteorological data, states the plan.
In laying out the plan for action, Heads of State and Government and their representatives identify national e-strategies as the key vehicle for meeting its targets. They also stress that in achieving the objectives of the plan, special attention should be paid to the needs of developing countries.
Yoshio Utsumi, Secretary General of the international telecommunication union, said: 'The realisation of the plan of action is crucial to the long term success of the summit. [...] We need commitment - on the part of governments, the private sector and civil society - to realistic targets and concrete actions. We need the mobilisation of resources and investment.'
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