World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (May 17)

“Information technology can be a beacon of hope, allowing billions of people around the world to connect. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these connections… are more important than ever” — UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

The purpose of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) is to help raise awareness of the possibilities that the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICT) can bring to societies and economies, as well as of ways to bridge the digital divide.

May 17 marks the anniversary of the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention and the creation of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

World Telecommunication Day has been celebrated annually on May 17 since 1969, marking the founding of ITU and the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention in 1865. It was instituted by the Plenipotentiary Conference in Malaga-Torremolinos in 1973 as Resolution 46.

In November 2005, the World Summit on the Information Society called upon the UN General Assembly to declare May 17 as World Information Society Day to focus on the importance of ICT and the wide range of issues related to the Information Society raised by WSIS. 

The General Assembly adopted a resolution (A/RES/60/252) in March 2006 stipulating that World Information Society Day shall be celebrated every year on 17 May.

In November 2006, the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Antalya, Turkey, decided to celebrate both events on 17 May as World Telecommunication and Information Society Day. The updated Resolution 68 invites Member States and Sector Members to celebrate the day annually by organizing appropriate national programs with a view to:

stimulating reflection and exchanges of ideas on the theme adopted by the Council
debating the various aspects of the theme with all partners in society
formulating a report reflecting national discussions on the issues underlying the theme, to be fed back to ITU and the rest of its membership

The theme “Connect 2030: ICTs for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” highlights the ICT advances for transition to smart and sustainable development. It will focus on specific ICT-enabled solutions and emerging trends for fostering economic, environmental and social sustainability.

The Connect 2030 Agenda is a shared global vision for the development of the telecommunication/ICT sector. Under its five strategic goals – Growth, Inclusiveness, Sustainability, Innovation and Partnership.

The SDGs recognize that the spread of information and communications technology and global interconnectedness has great potential to accelerate human progress and to bridge the digital divide.