Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development

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Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development

logo of the Broadband Commission
SecretariatITU, Geneva (International territory)
• Co-Chair
H.E. Paul Kagame
• Co-Chair
Carlos Slim
• Co-Vice Chair
Houlin Zhao
• Co-Vice Chair
Audrey Azoulay
• Executive Secretary
Doreen Bogdan-Martin
• established
1 May 2010 (9 years ago) (2010-05-01)

The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development (until 2015: Digital Development) was established in May 2010 as a joint initiative by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to promote Internet access,[1] in particular, broadband networks in order to help achieve United Nations development goals, such as the Millennium Development Goals (until 2015).[2] The Commission was renamed the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, following the adoption of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals in September 2015.[3]


The commission is jointly chaired by H.E. Paul Kagame President of Rwanda and America Movil owner Carlos Slim, and jointly vice-chaired by the heads to the two founding UN agencies, the Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union Houlin Zhao, and UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay.

Members of the commission include, policy-makers and government representatives, international agencies, academia and organizations concerned with development.[4] In addition to its chairs and vice-chairs, 51 commissioners included Jeff Sachs, Muhammad Yunus, Hans Vestberg, Mo Ibrahim and Martin Sorrell.


The Broadband Commission engages in high-level advocacy to promote broadband in developing countries and underserved communities.[5] One of the Commission's stated goals is to advocate that broadband infrastructure be given the highest priority level in future development policy and city planning frameworks.

To date, the Commission's output has included several major reports,[6] including “A 2010 Leadership Imperative: The Future Built on Broadband” presented to then United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in September 2010, before the 2010 United Nations MDGs Summit in New York. The document constitutes a concise, high-level report that directly reflects inputs from the Commission's community of high-level business executives and policy-makers and contains a number of policy recommendations and "Declaration of Broadband Inclusion for All".


As part of its advocacy work, in 2011 the commission established a framework of four "ambitious but achievable" targets that countries should strive to meet by 2015 in order to help achieve the MDGs through digital development.[7]

  1. by 2015, all countries should have a National Broadband Plan or strategy or include broadband in their Universal Access and Service Definition
  2. by 2015, entry-level broadband services should be made affordable in developing countries
  3. by 2015, 40% of households in developing countries should have Internet access
  4. by 2015, Internet user penetration should reach 60% worldwide, 50% in developing countries and 15% in Least Developed Countries
  5. Achieving gender equality in access to broadband by 2020

With the fifth target being added in 2013, designed to spur female access to the power of information and communication technologies (ICTs).[8]

In 2018, the commission launched a framework of now seven "ambitious but achievable" targets, that countries should strive to meet by the year 2025.[9]

  1. By 2025, all countries should have a funded national broadband plan or strategy, or include broadband in their universal access and services definition.
  2. By 2025, entry-level broadband services should be made affordable in developing countries, at less than 2% of monthly gross national income per capita.
  3. By 2025 broadband-Internet user penetration should reach:
    1. 75% worldwide
    2. 65% in developing countries
    3. 35% in least developed countries
  4. By 2025, 60% of youth and adults should have achieved at least a minimum level of proficiency in sustainable digital skills.
  5. By 2025, 40% of the world's population should be using digital financial services.
  6. By 2025, un-connectedness of Micro-, Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises should be reduced by 50%, by sector.
  7. By 2025, gender equality should be achieved across all targets.

The Broadband Commission targets were developed at ITU,[10] and launched at the World Economic Forum 2018 in Davos.


Since 2012 the Commission has published an annual State of Broadband report, positioned as a snapshot of the global broadband industry.[11] The reports are issued every year during a high-level meeting on the side of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, and are specifically targeted at government policy-makers, as well as those engaged with setting the UN's Post 2015 development agenda. Each report includes a country ranking based on key indicators for Internet-user penetration and Internet access affordability.

In addition to its annual reports, the Broadband Commission employs working groups to address specific action items or focus areas. Working groups examine such issues as Science, Health, Climate Change, Youth, Education, Gender and Finance and Investment; and reflect the wide-ranging impact of broadband technologies across multiple sectors. Past outputs from working groups include reports, consultations and workshops.[12]


During the countdown to 2015 and the due date for the MDGs, the Commission's advocacy and policy outreach has increasingly been directed towards actors responsible for setting the Post-2015 Development Agenda, to recognize the importance of ICT/broadband infrastructure, networks, applications and services for sustainable economic, social and environmental development. In April 2013 the, group issued an Open Letter to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Panel of Eminent Persons,[13] as well as a broadband manifesto[14] in September at the 69th session of the General Assembly.


Donors include Grupo Carso, Digicel Group, Bharti Enterprises, Intel, Ooredoo, Ericsson, Cisco and the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.[15]


In September 2015, the Broadband Commission released a report on "cyber violence" against women, which addressed online harassment targeted at women.[16] The report has been criticised by some for being anti free speech and advocating internet censorship.[17][18] Others have criticised the report for providing questionable information that has been poorly cited, which included non-existent sources and a source linking to a file on the author's computer hard drive.[19]


  1. ^ "About". Broadband Commission. Archived from the original on July 13, 2010. Retrieved February 8, 2011.
  2. ^ "United Nations Millennium Development Goals". Retrieved 2014-02-02.
  3. ^ "Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development - About". Retrieved 2017-07-14.
  4. ^ Commissioners Archived May 14, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "Engagement". Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2014-02-02.
  6. ^ "Reports and Documents". Archived from the original on 2014-01-17. Retrieved 2014-02-02.
  7. ^ "about". Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  8. ^ "about". Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  9. ^ "Home". Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  10. ^ " | e-week 2018 |". Retrieved 2018-09-24.
  11. ^ "Reports and Documents". Archived from the original on 2014-01-17. Retrieved 2014-02-02.
  12. ^ "Working Groups". Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2014-02-02.
  13. ^ "Broadband Commission Open Letter to UNSG's Panel of Eminent Persons". Retrieved 2014-02-02.
  14. ^ "Broadband Manifesto champions transformative power of high-speed networks to drive socio-economic development". Retrieved 2014-02-02.
  15. ^ "Donors". Archived from the original on 2014-04-06. Retrieved 2014-02-02.
  16. ^ "Cyber Violence Against Women and Girls" (PDF).
  17. ^ "A Few Comments on the UN Broadband Commission's "Cyber Violence Against Women And Girls" Report". Popehat. Retrieved 2015-10-06.
  18. ^ "UN Broadband Commission Releases Questionable Report On 'Cyber Violence' Against Women | Techdirt". Retrieved 2015-10-06.
  19. ^ "Citation Games By the United Nations' #CyberViolence". Medium. Retrieved 2015-10-06.

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