On 9 May 2023, Anh Thu Duong (Co-Director, GCH) and Andras Szorenyi (Senior Policy Adviser, GCH) met with Secretary General of ITU Doreen Bogdan-Martin and presented the vision of GCH, including our activities with local and regional governments (LRG) in the field of digitalization and smart city development. The GCH emphasized that inclusive and effective multilateralism is only possible if LRGs are involved in the relevant multilateral processes.
The GCH also commended the multistakeholder approach by ITU and especially the involvement of LRGs into the WSIS process and Forum through the Mayors’ Events. This year was the second time we worked together and local representatives from all regions participated in the Forum. Strengthening the participation of and contribution by mayors to the WSIS Forum in the future is mutually interesting and foreseen.
Smart city development is high on the local agenda – especially from a social, economic and regulatory point of view. Challenges are diverse in different cities but sharing experiences at the multilateral level is important. The vital importance of digital networks and services to economic resilience and the provision of essential public services like education and healthcare was underscored.
GCH follows with huge interest the Giga program by ITU and UNICEF. “Giga sets the goal of providing connectivity to every school in the world. Giga will bring the power of meaningful connectivity to fast-track young people’s access to educational resources and opportunities.” Local governments – although not exclusively – might play a crucial role to make Giga a success.
ITU’s Smart Villages project is another avenue of high interest. It “comprises a locally led, integrated, and holistic approach to providing access to digital services to all citizens of rural communities, with the integration of digital technologies serving as a crucial enabler of equitable, qualitative and efficient delivery of SDG-related services for all.”
LRGs must have their voice heard on creating the necessary infrastructure to provide digital connectivity for the community. It is through their involvement in relevant consultation processes that effective and inclusive multilateralism will be achieved. GCH is committed to continuing the fruitful collaboration with ITU and promoting the engagement and participation of local and regional governments in multilateralism.