2003, Rome/Geneva -- The information revolution has
completely bypassed nearly one billion people, creating a
digital divide that hinders development, FAO warned on
On the opening day of the first
ever Global Summit on the Information Society, in Geneva, the
Organization said that most of the estimated one billion people
who have not benefited from the transformation of global
information systems were the rural poor, many of whom survive on
less than a dollar a day.
is a rural digital divide that needs to be addressed. It is
imperative that the World Summit on the Information Society
focuses on the needs of the world's poor living in rural
areas," said Anton Mangstl, Director of FAO's
Library and Documentation Systems Division.
"More than three quarters of the poorest
people on the planet, those who have been left behind by the
information transformation, are directly or indirectly involved
in agriculture," he added.
Bridging the rural digital divide has become a
priority for FAO, and will be the main message the Organization
will be taking to this year's Summit to be held in Geneva
10-12 December 2003.
ever Information Summit
Summit on the Information Society will bring together Heads of
State, UN agencies, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and
civil society, the private sector and the media.
The Summit aims to foster a clear statement of
political will and a concrete plan of action to shape the future
of the global information society and to promote urgently needed
access for all countries to the information, knowledge and
communication technologies needed for development.
According to FAO experts, the digital divide excludes
countries and specific populations, above all rural people, from
vital knowledge and information on agriculture, forestry,
fisheries, nutrition and other aspects of rural development.
Such exclusion is a major constraint to the
achievement of the goal of halving the number of the
undernourished in the world by the year 2015.
FAO and its partners are working to bridge the rural
digital divide by strengthening human and institutional
capacities to harness information and knowledge more
FAO recognises that knowledge
and access to information are essential for combating hunger and
For these activities
to be realized, the poor must play an active role in the
The World Summit on the
Information Society will be held in two phases: Geneva (10-12
December 2003) and Tunisia (16-18 November 2005).
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