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From the digital divide to the need for a worldwide solidarity movement

With the latest advances in the development of information and communication technologies, we are witnessing the emergence of a new society, the Information Society, which is transforming public and private spheres and is creating new social, political, economic and cultural opportunities throughout the world. At the same time, this planetary digital revolution leaves out of account millions of men and women - the info poor -, their great majority living in developing countries and in remote rural areas.

Various economic and sociological studies have shown that in many countries, the digital divide represents a factor of exclusion from global exchange processes, restricting the development of intellectual capital and slowing down economic growth. More generally, the digital divide dangerously increases the lack of understanding between cultures and civilisations.

The United Nations Development Programme reports on the failings of technological changes to empower the developing world, and warns against ever-growing disparities between affluent nations and those who lack basic skills, resources, and infrastructure. Most of the world's population lacks basic access to a telephone line, let alone to a computer, while entire societies are marginalized at the periphery of communication networks.

In order to stop the progress of digital disparities between and within countries, mere declarations of intent are not sufficient. Urgent action is needed. Responding to the shortage of basic equipment, investing in computer literacy and extending the reach of information flows represents an immense undertaking. It can only be achieved through a worldwide solidarity effort between cities, regions, States, civil society and the private sector.

In order to complement existing national and international financial resources, the creation of a world Digital Solidarity Fund based on voluntary contributions and operating in a prompt and transparent manner constitutes an appropriate response to the uneven distribution and use of new information and communication technologies (ICTs). The mission of the newly established Digital Solidarity Fund is to promote and finance development projects that will enable excluded people and countries to enter the new era of the Information Society.

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