According to the United Nations, access to internet and telecommunication in developing countries can help to combat poverty. A large-scale summit was organised in Geneva from 10 to 12 December 2003 to bring together numerous parties to discuss the infrastructure necessary for this purpose. This World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) was attended by government delegations, interest groups and representatives of the business sector.
The theme of cultural diversity had top priority. New communication technologies can both threaten and protect local cultures. These are a threat because the technology also brings the culture of economically dominant countries, including for example the English language. But these also protect the local cultures because they can produce local content. Photographs, texts and sounds from a specific culture can be registered and dispersed.
The second part of the WSIS will be held in Tunis in November 2005.
Prior to the summit, the Council of Geneva hosted the prestigious Local Content Cyber Festival. This was a two-day programme organised by Cyberty.net, an organisation that promotes content diversity. The presentations, panel discussions and workshops were all related to the underlying theme of how ICT can be used for cultural development. The participants, including scientists, journalists, artists and telecom experts, came from all over the world. The conclusions of the festival are only available in French at this time. The web editor expects an English version to be on-line in January 2004.