Consumer policy

OECD and the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)


1. What is WSIS?
2. How is the OECD involved?
3. Background reading
     =>Thematic contributions related to the "Plan of Action"
     =>Outstanding issues after the first phase of the World Summit in 2003
4. Contacts and presence at WSIS 


1. What is WSIS?

The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) is an initiative of the UN specialised agency, International Telecommunications Union (ITU). 

Its objective is to "build the framework of an all-inclusive and equitable Information Society" and find ways to use Information and Communication Technologies to advance development goals, such as those contained in the Millennium Declaration. OECD and non-OECD governments, private sector actors, civil society organisations, regional and international organisations are working together to do this.

For more information on WSIS and in its second phase, the "Tunis Summit", to be held in Tunis from 16-18 November 2005, go to


2. How is the OECD involved?

The Action Lines set-up by the first World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) are consistent with the strategies adopted by the OECD. The consideration of the benefits of information and communications technology is an integral factor in development of policy best practices at the OECD; both information and communication technology policies, and development policies.

1. Items relating to the WSIS Plan of Action

The OECD has conducted work in many of the areas related to WSIS initiatives, including:

  • Partnership on measuring ICT for development 
    Measuring the information society, i.e. defining, collecting and analysing comparable statistical indicators which are reliable and comparable worldwide, is important, in order to enable informed ICT policy making and ICT development decisions. It is also important to measure ICT in order to gain some understanding of impacts of ICT spending, or the "return on development investment". The OECD has entered into a Partnership with several other international organisations to further this agenda.

  • The role of governments and all stakeholders in the promotion of ICTs for development
    Understanding if and how ICTs can best increase economic growth and reduce poverty is key to ensuring that resources are allocated where they can actually have an impact. The OECD has explained what experts currently know about how Information and Communication Technology (ICT) use in developing economies can stimulate economic growth and poverty reduction.

  • Building confidence and security in the use of ICTs
    To build confidence and security in the use of ICTs, infrastructure and services must be reliable, transactions secure and private, and personal data protected. Fighting spam is part of building confidence and security in the use of ICTs.
  • Access to data and information
    Developing countries need access to data and information if they are to reap the benefits of participation in the global information society. Notably, access to scientific and technological data will enable them to engage in potentially fruitful science and technology co-operation. The OECD's project to implement the 2004 Ministerial Declaration on Access to Research Data  contributes to this WSIS goal.  

The OECD has also co-organised the following thematic meetings:

  • WSIS Thematic Meeting on ICT and Economic Growth
    Guatemala, January 2005

    The goal of the WSIS Thematic Meeting on Economic and Social Implications of ICT was to allow governments, the private sector, workers and civil society to examine policies and practices that permit enterprises to employ ICTs as effective productivity enhancing tools, and do so in a socially responsible manner.

  • WSIS Thematic Meeting on Measuring the Information Society
    Geneva, February 2005
    This meeting was organised under the umbrella of the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development. The OECD has contributed to the Partnership by assisting in the development of a common list of core ICT statistical indicators and associated metadata (such as definitions, scope and classifications) and by providing assistance to developing countries through the Guide to Measuring the Information Society. On November 15, the Partnership will hold a parallel event to the second phase of WSIS in Tunis, where a core list of indicators will be presented and additional indicators will be discussed.


2. Outstanding issues from the first Phase of WSIS

The first World Summit set up two bodies to examine two key issues, namely Internet Governance and Financial Mechanisms. The OECD has been actively involved in both of them.

  • Financial Mechanisms
    Clarification on the relevant roles of the public sector, the private sector and civil society organisations for financing the "framework of an all-inclusive and equitable Information Society" and WSIS targets are important. The five main themes of the discussion on financial mechanisms have centered around five themes, all of which have been subject to OECD evidence-based research on best practices: (i) Enabling environments and policies, to attract private sector investment; (ii) Infrastructure; (iii) Access by all, including universal access policies to correct market failures; (iv) Content and applications; and (v) Capacity development.

  • Internet Governance
    Internet governance is important because many countries' economies and societies are increasingly dependent on the Internet, including critical infrastructure. The WGIG report completed in July 2005 gives a working definition of Internet governance as "the development and application by governments, the private sector, and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision making procedures, and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the Internet.” While the Internet has spurred incredible innovation and brought numerous economic and social benefits, issues to do with the technical management of the Internet for example, have generated significant debates. Stakeholders, including governments, private sector actors, civil society organisations, and the technical and academic communities, feel the need to exchange views and to ensure that decisions are taken considering all implications and balancing all interests -- while preserving the Internet as an engine of growth and innovation.


3. Background reading

Within the OECD, there are two main groups of WSIS-related initiatives:

1. Thematic contributions related to the "Plan of Action"

The OECD has made numerous thematic contributions to WSIS, which include specific initiatives, as well as providing access and visibility to OECD work via thematic or plenary meetings.

  • Comparable statistical indicators
    The Partnership Measuring ICT for Development has agreed to a list of "core ICT indicators", available in English, French, and Spanish, for use by National Statistics Offices worldwide, as a starting point for developing internationally comparable statistics on the information society. The main objectives of the Partnership are (i) to agree on a common set of core ICT indicators that are comparable at the international level; (ii) to assist in building statistical capacity in the developing countries, and (iii) to set up a global database to host the data of the core ICT indicators.
  • The role of governments and all stakeholders in the promotion of ICTs for development
    • The Good Practice Paper on ICTs for Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction  (PDF, 438KB) gives an overview of what DAC members currently know about how Information and Communication Technology (ICT) use in developing economies can stimulate economic growth and poverty reduction. A core message of the paper is that pro-poor growth will be enabled by the ICT sector not when the poor have access to technology, but when the poor have access to useful content through ICT – e.g. market data, agricultural options, educational opportunities, health information, governance options etc. It also stresses that experience of donors so far has shown that the two main constraints of ICTD are capacity to use ICTs and availability of useful content. Several of its key points have been summarised in a presentation.
    • The report ICTs and Economic Growth in Developing Countries, OECD Development Co-operation Directorate, 2004 (PDF, 200KB) reviews recent OECD research on the impact of ICTs in the OECD countries and asks whether similar impacts can be expected in the different circumstances of the developing world. It considers the relationship between these findings, the “digital divide” and the wider aim of development policy – the reduction of poverty – and sets out a number of recommendations for developing countries and international agencies.
      [Further information]

  • ICT for aid management
    The first web-based Aid Management Platform was implemented in Ethiopia for facilitating and streamlining national aid management efforts between government institutions and donors.  The project, led by the Ethiopian government, was supported by OECD/DAC, UNDP, World Bank group, and the Development Gateway Foundation. It is in line with the Rome 2003 and Paris 2005 declarations by the development community on aid effectiveness.

  • Information and communication infrastructure: an essential foundation for the Information Society
    OECD work in these areas include the paper Regulatory Reform as a Tool for Bridging the Digital Divide, OECD Science and Technology Directorate, 2005 (PDF, 262KB) and Universal Access Funds with Minimum-Subsidy Auctions - Leveraging Telecommunications Policies for Pro-Poor Growth, OECD Development Co-operation Directorate, 2004 (PDF, 337KB).
    Further information

  • Building confidence and security in the use of ICTs
    To build confidence and security in the use of ICTs, infrastructure and services must be reliable, transactions secure and private, and personal data protected. The OECD Working Party on Information Security and Privacy promotes a global, coordinated approach to policy making in these areas, to help build trust online. The OECD Spam Task Force is currently developing the anti-spam Toolkit, an instrument to help governments, regulators and industry players orient their policies relating to spam solutions.

  • ICT applications: benefits in all aspects of life
    The Information Economy unit, examines the economic and social implications of the development, diffusion and use of ICTs, the Internet and e-business. It analyses ICT policy frameworks shaping economic growth, productivity, employment and business performance. In particular, it focuses on digital content, ICT diffusion to business, global value chains, ICT-enabled offshoring, and ICT skills and employment 

2. Outstanding issues after the first phase of the World Summit in 2003

OECD contributions towards the work on issues identified as outstanding after the first phase of the World Sumit in 2003 have in general been provided directly to the Summit institutions.


The WSIS "Plan of Action", leading up to achievable targets by 2015 involves action lines and time-bound targets:

A number of action lines were established at the Geneva Summit.

C1. The role of governments and all stakeholders in the promotion of ICTs for development
C2. Information and communication infrastructure: an essential foundation for the Information Society
C3. Access to information and knowledge
C4. Capacity building
C5. Building confidence and security in the use of ICTs
C6. Enabling environment
C7. ICT applications: benefits in all aspects of life
C8. Cultural diversity and identity, linguistic diversity and local content
C9. Media
C10. Ethical dimensions of the Information Society
C11. International and regional cooperation

The following targets were set, to be achieved by 2015, with special attention to be paid to the needs of developing countries.

  • to connect villages with ICTs and establish community access points;to connect universities, colleges, secondary schools and primary schools with ICTs;
  • to connect scientific and research centres with ICTs;
  • to connect public libraries, cultural centres, museums, post offices and archives with ICTs;
  • to connect health centres and hospitals with ICTs;
  • to connect all local and central government departments and establish websites and email addresses;
  • to adapt all primary and secondary school curricula to meet the challenges of the Information Society, taking into account national circumstances;
  • to ensure that all of the world's population have access to television and radio services;
  • to encourage the development of content and to put in place technical conditions in order to facilitate the presence and use of all world languages on the Internet;
  • to ensure that more than half the world's inhabitants have access to ICTs within their reach.

A Digital Solidarity Agenda was established with the aim of 'putting in place the conditions for mobilising human, financial and technological resources for inclusion of all men and women in the emerging Information Society.

In addition, "A realistic international performance evaluation and benchmarking (both qualitative and quantitative), through comparable statistical indicators and research results, should be developed to follow up the implementation of the objectives, goals and targets in the Plan of Action, taking into account different national circumstances.


4. Contacts

For further information on OECD work on Information and Communications Technologies, please send your questions to the Directorate of Science, Technology and Industry at

Journalists are invited to contact in the OECD’s Media Relations Division (tel. + 33 1 45 24 81 18) for further information.


OECD Staff members were present at the following WSIS side events:

  • 13 Nov: Past, Present and Future of Research in the Information Society
    (CODATA event, 09.00-11.00, Corinthia Khamas Hotel) 
  • 14 Nov: The need to develop a “Global Information Commons for Science
    (CODATA Round-table, 11.00-13.00, Corinthia Khamsa Hotel)
  • 14 Nov: Informal donor meeting "What's Next After WSIS?''
  • 15 Nov: Measuring the information society
  • 15 Nov: ITU High-Level Panel "Information Society 2015: building the way forward"
  • 16 Nov: Global Knowledge Partnership.
  • 16: Information society strategy: The Turkish case
    (Turkish Government, 11:00-13:00, Gafsa)
  • 17 Nov: Global Alliance for ICT and Development - Start-up Group
  • 18 Nov: CAPTEF/France workshop on spam
  • 18 Nov: Internet Society of China workshop on spam and cybersecurity










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