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GISWatch 2024 Special Edition

In anticipation of the WSIS+20 High Level Meeting taking place in Geneva at the end of May, APC, in partnership with IT for Change and with the support of WACC Global, are publishing a series of reports as part of the GISWatch 2024 Special Edition, WSIS+20: Reimagining horizons of dignity, equity and justice for our digital future.

The following two reports, which are included in the GISWatch 2024 Special Edition, explore pathways for addressing the digital divide as well as the impacts of digitalisation when marginalised populations are overlooked in decision-making processes.

From “digital divide” to “digital equality”: Unpacking the digital inequality paradox 

by Alison Gillwald (Organisation: Research ICT Africa and University of Cape Town)

Flawed though they may be, the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and Global Digital Compact (GDC) are likely our only hope of mobilising the global cooperation required to redress widening digital inequalities and to harness technological innovations for humanity.

This report starts with a brief history and background to the dynamic and complex issues at the heart of WSIS and the GDC. It proceeds to identify the wicked policy problems arising from digital inequality and data injustice, through an intersectional inequality lens and from a Majority World perspective. Then, the report provides a global digital public goods framing for the global governance of the intensifying process of digitalisation and datafication. In doing so, it surfaces critical areas that could contribute significantly to more equitable and just digital policy outcomes.

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Understanding the marginalisation of Pacific Small Island Developing States through digitalisation

by Sala Weleilakeba (Organisation: Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN))

In recent years, there has been growing concern about the marginalisation of civil society perspectives in global and national processes. Civil society organisations play a crucial role in advocating for the interests of marginalised communities and holding governments and international organisations accountable. However, their voices are often sidelined or overlooked when decisions are made and policies are set. Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS) face unique challenges in embracing digitalisation that are often not taken into account in global governance processes. At the same time, governments in the Pacific Islands do not sufficiently leverage the skills and capacities of civil society organisations better to bridge the digital divide. This short report delves into the factors contributing to the digital divide experienced by PSIDS and suggests ways of fostering digital inclusion in the region.

The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) stands as a pivotal platform for addressing global issues concerning the use and impact of information and communications technologies (ICTs). As we navigate the complexities of our increasingly interconnected world, it is imperative that WSIS takes into account the perspectives of marginalised geographies and communities in the Pacific. These communities often face unique challenges and barriers in accessing and using ICTs, and addressing their concerns is essential for achieving the overarching goals of WSIS. The digital divide in the Pacific is often a result of intersecting issues including infrastructural hurdles, inadequate regulatory frameworks, socioeconomic factors, limited digital literacy and awareness, and climate vulnerability. 

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We will be announcing more news about the upcoming launch of the GISWatch 2024 Special Edition ahead of the WSIS+20 Forum High-Level Event at the end of May. Stay tuned!

For more information, subscribe to the APC newsletter, join the conversation on social media, and visit GISWatch online.

These reports were originally published as part of a larger compilation: “Global Information Society Watch 2024 Special edition: WSIS+20: Reimagining horizons of dignity, equity and justice for our digital future"

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) - Some rights reserved.

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ISBN: 978-92-95113-67-1