Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development

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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 were thought to help the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), announced by the United Nations in 2000 which had a target date of 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]


Members 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.


Donors include Grupo Carso, Digicel Group, Bharti Enterprises, Intel, Ooredoo, Ericsson, Cisco and the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.[5]


The Broadband Commission engages in high-level advocacy to promote broadband in developing countries and underserved communities to promote achievement of the MDGs by 2015.[6] 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,[7] including “A 2010 Leadership Imperative: The Future Built on Broadband” presented to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in September 2010, before the 2010 United Nations MDG 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”. In October 2011, the Commission jointly co-hosted a Broadband Leadership Summit with ITU Telecom World preceding the ITU Telecom World 2011 event. The Summit convened a number of Heads of State, leading CEOs, senior policy-makers and visionaries from across the ICT sector to debate the issues that matter in the deployment of broadband infrastructure and services. The Commission’s second report – Broadband: A Platform for Progress – was launched during the Summit.


Since 2012 the Commission has published an annual State of Broadband report positioned as a snapshot of the global broadband industry.[8] 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 penetration and 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.[9]


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,[10] as well as a broadband manifesto[11] in September at the 69th session of the General Assembly.


In September 2015, the Broadband Commission released a report on "cyber violence" against women, which addressed online harassment targeted at women.[12] The report has been criticised by some for being anti free speech and advocating internet censorship.[13][14] 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.[15]


  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. ^ "Donors". Archived from the original on 2014-04-06. Retrieved 2014-02-02. 
  6. ^ "Engagement". Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2014-02-02. 
  7. ^ "Reports and Documents". Archived from the original on 2014-01-17. Retrieved 2014-02-02. 
  8. ^ "Reports and Documents". Archived from the original on 2014-01-17. Retrieved 2014-02-02. 
  9. ^ "Working Groups". Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2014-02-02. 
  10. ^ "Broadband Commission Open Letter to UNSG's Panel of Eminent Persons". Retrieved 2014-02-02. 
  11. ^ "Broadband Manifesto champions transformative power of high-speed networks to drive socio-economic development". Retrieved 2014-02-02. 
  12. ^ "Cyber Violence Against Women and Girls" (PDF). 
  13. ^ "A Few Comments on the UN Broadband Commission's "Cyber Violence Against Women And Girls" Report". Popehat. Retrieved 2015-10-06. 
  14. ^ "UN Broadband Commission Releases Questionable Report On 'Cyber Violence' Against Women | Techdirt". Retrieved 2015-10-06. 
  15. ^ "Citation Games By the United Nations' #CyberViolence". Medium. Retrieved 2015-10-06. 

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