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17.8.1 Individuals Using the Internet

Target 17.8: Fully operationalize the technology bank and science, technology and innovation capacity-building mechanism for least developed countries by 2017 and enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology

Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Finance

Custodian Organization: International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

Tier Classification: Tier I

To facilitate the implementation of the global indicator framework, all indicators are classified by the IAEG-SDGs (Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goals Indicators) into three tiers on the basis of their level of methodological development and the availability of data at the global level, as follows:

Tier I: Indicator is conceptually clear, has an internationally established methodology and standards are available, and data are regularly produced by countries for at least 50 per cent of countries and of the population in every region where the indicator is relevant.

Tier II: Indicator is conceptually clear, has an internationally established methodology and standards are available, but data are not regularly produced by countries.

Tier III: No internationally established methodology or standards are yet available for the indicator, but methodology/standards are being (or will be) developed or tested.

Source: United Nations Statistical Division

Definition: The indicator proportion of individuals using the Internet is defined as the proportion of individuals who used the Internet from any location in the last three months.

Concepts: The Internet is a worldwide public computer network. It provides access to a number of communication services including the World Wide Web and carries e-mail, news, entertainment and data files, irrespective of the device used (not assumed to be only via a computer – it may also be by mobile telephone, tablet, PDA, games machine, digital TV etc.). Access can be via a fixed or mobile network.

Rationale: The Internet has become an increasingly important tool to access public information, which is a relevant means to protect fundamental freedoms. The number of Internet users has increased substantially over the last decade and access to the Internet has changed the way people live, communicate, work and do business. Internet uptake is a key indicator tracked by policy makers and others to measure the development of the information society and the growth of Internet content – including user-generated content – provides access to increasing amounts of information and services.

Despite growth in networks, services and applications, information and communication technology (ICT) access and use is still far from equally distributed, and many people cannot yet benefit from the potential of the Internet. This indicator highlights the importance of Internet use as a development enabler and helps to measure the digital divide, which, if not properly addressed, will aggravate inequalities in all development domains. Classificatory variables for individuals using the Internet –such as age, sex, education level or labour force status – can help identify digital divides in individuals using the Internet. This information can contribute to the design of targeted policies to overcome those divides.

The proportion of individuals using the Internet is an established indicator and also one of the three ICT-related Millennium Development Goal (MDG) indicators (for Target 8F). It is part of the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development’s Core List of Indicators, which has been endorsed by the UN Statistical Commission (last time in 2014). It is also included in the ITU ICT Development Index, and thus considered a key metric for international comparisons of ICT developments.

Limitations: While the data on the percentage of individuals using the Internet are very reliable for countries that have collected the data through official household surveys, they are less reliable in cases where the number of Internet users is estimated by ITU. ITU is encouraging all countries to collect data on this indicator through official surveys and the number of countries with official data for this indicator is increasing.

Source: United Nations Statistical Division

Data Source: Data for this indicator was primarily collected from the United Nations Statistics Division’s Open SDG Data Hub. National level data is provided to the United Nations Statistics Division by the respective nation, unless otherwise noted. To learn more about the data used in this portal, visit the about page.

Data is accurate as of October 31, 2018.


17.8.1 Individuals Using the Internet in the Sustainable Development Goals

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17. Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
17. Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

17. Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

A successful sustainable development agenda requires partnerships between governments, the private sector and civil society. These inclusive partnerships built upon principles and values, a shared vision, and shared goals that place people and the planet at the centre, are needed at the global, regional, national and local level.

Urgent action is needed to mobilize, redirect and unlock the transformative power of trillions of dollars of private resources to deliver on sustainable development objectives. Long-term investments, including foreign direct investment, are needed in critical sectors, especially in developing countries. These include sustainable energy, infrastructure and transport, as well as information and communications technologies. The public sector will need to set a clear direction. Review and monitoring frameworks, regulations and incentive structures that enable such investments must be retooled to attract investments and reinforce sustainable development. National oversight mechanisms such as supreme audit institutions and oversight functions by legislatures should be strengthened.