The Prime Minister of Tonga, Hon. Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva led Tonga’s delegation at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum 2016 of the International Telecommunication Union in Geneva, Switzerland on 4th to 6th May, 2016.
The WSIS Forum 2016 represents the world’s largest annual gathering of the ‘ICT for development’ community. The Forum has proven to be an efficient mechanism for coordination of multi-stakeholder implementation activities, information exchange, creation of knowledge, sharing of best practices and continues to provide assistance in developing multi-stakeholder and public/private partnerships to advance development goals. The purpose of the meeting was to call for a close alignment between the Summit and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development processes. The WSIS Forum serves as a key forum for discussing the role of ICTs as a means of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and targets, with due regard to the global mechanism for follow-up and review of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The Hon. Prime Minister delivered a statement at the High-Level Policy Session on 4 May, 2016 alongside Government Leaders, Heads of regulatory authorities and representatives of international and regional organizations, civil societies and private sectors.
In his statement, the Hon. Prime Minister spoke of the solid foundation WSIS has laid down since its endorsement in Minneapolis in 1998 for building a truly global, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society. Through WSIS, ICT has enormous power to change economic structures and greatly contribute to economic prosperity and a better quality of life through providing greater choices and supporting general welfare and cultural activities. Today, ICT has cut through three historical and ground-breaking international agreements that have the potential to change human life for the better; the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
The Hon. Prime Minister recognized that this was the first WSIS after these agreements and identified ICT as an integral tool to achieving these goals, and as an engine for growth in our national ICT policy, which focuses on health, education, environmental sustainability and early warning systems, energy, smart islands, industry growth, and multi-stakeholder cooperation for a resilient and sustainable development. He spoke of Tonga’s introduction of legislative measures to provide greater public confidence in using faster broadband Internet and a more comprehensive sustainable competition regime in the ICT sector through the enactment of the new Communications Act in 2015.
The meeting was also advised on Tonga’s positive progress to develop ICT through the establishment of the Cyber Challenges Task Force to address issues of cyber-security, cyber-safety and cyber-crime and the Tonga Computer Emergency Response Team (Tonga CERT) focusing on cyber-security. Tonga is also in the process of setting up E-Government connecting all Government Ministries, Public Enterprises and Agencies by fibre optic to provide online services.
The Hon. Prime Minister concluded by stating that ICT offered a historic and an unprecedented opportunity not only to achieve goals but to also place its potential at the service of humanity to making our world a better place. The Chief Secretary & Secretary to Cabinet, Dr. Palenitina Langa’oi and the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Va’inga Tone also attended the Summit following the meeting of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua that was held in London, England.
The Hon. Prime Minister and the Tongan delegation were greeted by Reverend Siupeli Taliai and the Tongan Community in Melbourne, Australia on their way back to Tonga. The delegation will return to Tonga this week.