Joint Statement: Leave No One Behind

Joint Statement: Leave No One Behind

A People-Centered Approach to Achieve Meaningful Connectivity

In light of the importance of addressing the digital divide in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Sustainable Development Goals, the President of the General Assembly has convened a one-day High-level Thematic Debate on Digital Cooperation and Connectivity on 27 April 2021.

In this letter, we call on governments, industry, multilateral institutions, civil society, and international financial institutions to close the digital divide by putting people at the centre of our approach to achieving meaningful connectivity for everyone. 

In order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we need to accelerate concerted action at all levels to close the digital divide, especially the gender digital gap. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the deep disparities in access to affordable and meaningful connectivity.  

At the 2021 High-Level Digital Debate of the General Assembly on Connectivity and Digital Cooperation, we encourage the international community to put people at the center of our approach to ensure no one is left behind without affordable access, skilling, and basic public services.  

Governments, industry, multilateral institutions, civil society and international financial institutions must work together and lead the way for concerted action to:  

  1. Close the digital divide by 2030. We must overcome the disparities between those who can enjoy the benefits of the digital age and those who cannot. It is critical to measure progress of internet access and usage across regions and population groups, e.g., by gender, age, race, abilities. 
  2. Invest in affordable technology solutions. We must enable affordable and meaningful connectivity for everyone, everywhere by deploying a range of innovative technologies and investing in targeted approaches to deliver broadband internet.  
  3. Empower people everywhere. We must ensure all people have access to affordable internet-enabled devices, the necessary digital skills, literacy, and tools needed to access a safe, secure and empowering internet, one which provides access to information, basic public services (e.g., education, health), economic development opportunities and the ability to participate in civic life without disruptions.  
  4. Mobilize new financing models to reach the unconnected. We must foster innovative and sustainable financing including blended finance models and multistakeholder partnerships. Financing efforts must address all aspects of human connectivity including skills, utility, affordability and target key groups including women and Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs). 
  1. Protect the most vulnerable online. We must keep human rights at the forefront of our efforts to close the digital divide. The international community must come together to ensure human rights online—and offline—apply equally for everyone in the digital age.  


List of signatories

Aarti Holla Maini

Secretary General

EMEA Satellite Operators Association (ESOA)

Adrian Lovett


World Wide Web Foundation

Anriette Esterhuysen


United Nations Internet Governance Forum Multistakeholder Advisory Group

Bernadette Lewis

Secretary General

Commonwealth Telecommunications Organizations

Brad Smith



Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl

Director General

Digital Europe

Chat Garcia Ramilo

Executive Director

Association for Progressive Communications (APC)

Christy Ogidi


Foundlings Foundation

Edetaen Ojo,

Executive Director

Media Rights Agenda

Eleanor Sarpong

Deputy Director


ElsaMarie D’Silva

Founder & President

Red Dot Foundation Global

Eric Loeb

Executive Vice President, Government Affairs


Gbenga Sesan

Executive Director

Paradigm Initiative

Godha Bapuji


Women in Crisis Group

John Frank

Vice President, UN Affairs


John W.H. Denton AO

Secretary General

International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)

Kevin Martin

Vice President, Public Policy, Mobile and Global Access and Broadband Commissioner


Lacina Kone

Director General/CEO


Lance Pierce



Martha Suarez


Dynamic Spectrum Alliance

Mats Granryd

Director General


Moses Owiny


Centre for Multilateral Affairs

Nompilo Simanje

Legal and ICT Policy Lead

Media Institute of Southern Africa – Zimbabwe (MISA-Zimbabwe)

Oyebisi B. Oluseyi

Executive Director

Nigerian Network of NGOs

Pamela Coke Hamilton

Executive Director

International Trade Centre

Peter Robinson

President and CEO


Rajeev Badyal

Vice President, Project Kuiper


Rocio Lorenzo

Managing Director and Partner, Global Leader Telecoms Sector

Boston Consulting Group

Rodney Taylor

Secretary General

Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU)

Sonia Jorge

Executive Director


Stephane Duguin


CyberPeace Institute

To be confirmed

To be confirmed

The African Freedom of Expression Exchange

Trésor Tshilumba

Digital Transformation Specialist. Digital Cooperation Unit

Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF)

Victoria Espinel




Source: Smart Africa

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