ICTs for SDGs

Language and Minority Rights: A Dialogue Forum with the Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues

The United Nations Charter (Article 1) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 2) affirm the right to non-discrimination based on language while the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities (Article 2) asserts that persons belonging to minorities have the right to “use their own language, in private and in public, freely and without interference or any form of discrimination.”  Yet linguistic minorities throughout the world continue to experience challenges to their language rights as well as inequitable access to other civil and human rights.

In this session, current Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues Fernand de Varennes will discuss the intersection of language and minority rights, including implementational challenges and possibilities. Representatives of NGOs, Secretariat and UN agency staff, colleagues from Member States, scholars, and others interested in linguistic minority rights are invited to participate in an open dialogue with the Special Rapporteur.

Register here by November 27!

About the Special Rapporteur:

Professor Fernand de Varennes, a globally recognized expert on linguistic and human rights, has served as the Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues since 2017 Reporting to the Human Rights Council and to the General Assembly, the Special Rapporteur promotes the implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities and guides the work of the Forum on Minority Issues, among other responsibilities.


  • 8:45 – 9:00am  Sign In
  • 9:00 – 9:05am  Introduction – Francis M. Hult, Chair, Committee on Language and Languages
  • 9:05 – 9:35am  Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues
  • 9:35 – 9:55am  Open Dialogue
  • 9:55 – 10:00am  Closing Remarks – Humphrey Tonkin, Vice-Chair, Committee on Language and Languages


CoNGO Notes: The NGO Committee on Language and Languages is a Substantive Committee of the Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations. For more information, please email the chair at fmhult@umbc.edu. Likewise, for more information on the NGO Committee on Education, Learning, and Literacy, please visit facebook.com/NGOCELLatUN. For more information on the NGO Committee on Social Development, please visit ngosocdev.org. For more information on the NGO Committee on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, please visit un-ngocrip.net. 

WSIS Forum 2022: Opening of the ICTs for Industry 4.0 and Emerging Digital Technologies for Sustainable Development

WSIS Session 273 Special Track

WSIS Forum 2022:

Opening of the ICTs for Industry 4.0 and Emerging Digital Technologies for Sustainable Development

Monday, 11 April 2022  |  14:00–15:00 (UTC+02:00)
Thematic Workshop

Emerging digital technologies are set to have a critical impact on our future. They are already powering innovative applications in areas ranging from healthcare to education, offering great potential not only as major drivers of the global digital economy but as important enablers for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  While the global transition to the digital economy will enable countries to harness the potential of these technologies to advance sustainable development, developing countries are at the highest risk of being left behind at a time when the majority of the close to 3 billion people who are still unconnected live in developing countries.

The WSIS Forum 2022 in collaboration with stakeholders is organizing a special track on Industry 4.0 and Emerging Digital Technologies, which aims to explore how frontier technological solutions will address sustainable development challenges and facilitate industry innovation in a rapidly changing world. Emerging digital technologies that are driving industry 4.0 include the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, digital twin, etc.

This opening session aims to set the discussion on the potential of emerging digital technologies towards industry 4.0 to accelerate digital transformation for all. The panel will elaborate on how opportunities that industry 4.0 provides can be leveraged while overcome the challenges it brings.


Dr. Chaesub Lee
Dr. Chaesub LeeDirector, Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB)International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

Dr. Shamika N. Sirimanne
Dr. Shamika N. SirimanneDirector of the Division on Technology and LogisticsUnited Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

Dr. Shamika N. Sirimanne is the Director of the Division on Technology and Logistics of UNCTAD. She leads UNCTAD’s work on science, technology, and innovation (STI), including e-commerce and the digital economy. She serves as the Head of the Secretariat of the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development, the focal point of the UN on STI policy. She also leads the preparation of UNCTAD flagship publications, Digital Economy Report and the Technology and Innovation Report. In addition, she is responsible for UNCTAD’s trade logistics programme, including its largest technical cooperation programme that helps develop digital platforms for e-government initiatives.

Ms. Sirimanne served as Director of the ICT and Disaster Risk Reduction Division of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), where she spearheaded major regional cooperation programmes. Among them are the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway initiative for seamless broadband connectivity, and the Regional Drought Mechanism for providing early warning through space applications.

Prior to that, Ms. Sirimanne was with the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), where she led the economic policy team and the Economic Report on Africa, the flagship publication of ECA. She has also worked for the Canadian Department of Finance and the World Bank. Ms. Sirimanne holds a PhD in Economics.

Ms. Revathi Mannepalli
Ms. Revathi MannepalliSenior Deputy Wireless AdvisorDepartment of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communication, India

Ms. Revathi has more than 25 years of professional experience in spectrum management including satellite spectrum and orbital resources at national and international level. Her expertise also includes ITU Radio Regulations for national and international spectrum regulation-cum-management and coordination with ITU and other countries.

At present, she is heading Spectrum Regulation Division in Indian Administration responsible for framing regulations relating to spectrum management and monitoring.

Rev. Dr. Liberato “Levi” C. Bautista
Rev. Dr. Liberato “Levi” C. BautistaPresidentConference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO), USA

The Rev. Dr. Liberato “Levi” C. Bautista is President of CoNGO—The Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (2007-2011 and 2018-2025) and Assistant General Secretary for UN and International Affairs of the General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church. Both organizations have consultative statuses with ECOSOC. He previously served as Chair of the Council of Organizations of the United Nations Association of the USA.

Bautista studied political science, history, and international studies at the University of the Philippines and religion and social and political ethics at Drew University (USA). He is a Fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science. He has travelled to some 80 countries around the world attending major United Nations, ecumenical, interreligious, civil society, and academic conferences. He participated in both the Geneva (2003) and Tunis (2005) phases of the World Summit on Information Society where he addressed the ethical implications of communications technology in the production and proliferation of information and knowledge.

Bautista has written and published essays and monographs on varied subjects, many based on his lectures and speeches on the work and role of civil society and non-governmental and grassroots organizations, in local, national, regional, international and multilateral arenas. His writings address Bautista’s concern for the organizational life of NGOs and civil society organizations characterized by consultative processes, collaborative approaches, and cooperative spirit. Such organizational values, elaborated in his writings, point to the importance of NGOs as a cohesive and effective force for change and transformation operating under proven principles of NGO good practice. Bautista’s NGO work total 44 years today.

Ms. Reine Essobmadje
Ms. Reine Mbang EssobmadjeCo-founder /CEO /Vice-PresidentDigital Coalition/Evolving Consulting/GICAM (Cameroonian Business Council) – Cameroon, France, Gabon, Germany

Reine Essobmadje holds a Global Executive MBA from IE business school Spain with an additional program in Ethics & Corporate Governance from SMU Singapore. She is also an Engineer by training (Master of sciences), graduated in 2004, from ECE Paris (she has been introduced in School Hall of Fame) including an additional program in Management from Stafford University in UK.  In August 2020, she has been recognized as a “Women Inspiring Women”  EPIC Award from IE Business School. EPIC stands for Extraordinary People Inspiring the IE Community

She is the founder of Evolving Consulting in Cameroon and France since 2009. A consultancy firm specialized in digital transformation in Europe and Africa.

Reine is recognized for her expertise as a top African woman in tech. She is an international consultant working both for European and African Union, World Bank and African Development Bank, International Telecommunications Union, Governments, and private sector.
Reine is very active in several organizations related to her area of interests (Women in STEM, entrepreneurship…). She is the Cameroonian Ambassador of Women In Africa, the co-Founder Digital Coalition (with ECOSOC Status)
She is a member of WIE-Committee at WFEO (World Federation of Engineering Organisations)
Reine is a member of IE Business School Tech Advisory board. https://www.ie.edu/business-school/the-school/tech-mba-advisory-board/
Reine is the co-author of the book Rising to The Top where she shares her journey and career as a woman engineer with 53 others. Produced by GedCouncil & IFEES, the book “Rising to the Top: Volume II Global Women Engineering Leaders Share their Journeys to Professional Success” is available here https://www.gedcouncil.org/rising-to-the-top/

In August 2020, she won the EPIC Award from the IE Business School in the “Women Inspiring Women” category. EPIC stands for Extraordinary People Inspiring the IE Community

She is the President of Digital Economy Committee and the first female appointed 1st Vice-President of Cameroonian Business Council named GICAM. Prior to join the Board of GICAM, she was a Board member at Air e-Go (West Parisian Business Council)

Mr. Joseph K. Hopkins
Mr. Joseph K. HopkinsSenior Managing Partner/CEOIPRESTIGE SM Emerge Fund LLC /Fallingst Technologies LLC

A thought leader in AI, blockchain, authentication, quantum and data security technologies, Joseph leads an innovative technology advisory and IP valuation services firm. Additionally, he serves as the senior managing partner of a proprietary first-mover advantage technology incubation accelerator Fund that concentrates on growth opportunities in emerging deep technology markets to mitigate the exploitation of data privacy and data rights breaches. Joseph has also authored key patents about network security, identity verification, content security, as well as network tracking/use verification.

Joseph serves as a judge, expert and speaker for United Nations (UN) AI for Good Innovation Factory project, whereby deep tech start-ups participate in live pitch sessions to help accelerate the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Additionally, he is also a participant with the AI SME with City.AI where the group identify needs which apply to AI ecosystems globally and set up various initiatives that foster the democratization of the design, development and use of AI.

Prior to his deep technology, IP valuation and investment / financing interests, Joseph served in key executive management roles for Fortune 500 companies, including Kaiser Permanente, 3M, GSK, Allergan, and KPMG. His experience represents over 20 plus years of entrepreneurship, technology, global operations management and business development responsibilities largely within the Healthcare and Life Sciences industry.

Ms. Mei Lin Fung
Ms. Mei Lin FungChair and CofounderPeople Centered Internet and Impact Network

Mei Lin Fung chairs the People Centered Internet co-founded with Vint Cerf. With Vint in 2019, she initiated the informal network “Digital Cooperation and Diplomacy” which brings together people taking practical and concrete action for the UN Digital Cooperation Roadmap, in the spirit of the original spread of Internet. She is on the World Economic Forum Precision Medicine and Digital ASEAN Payments groups and was on the WEF’s Global Future Council for Digital Economy and Society 2017-2018. She is on the board of ImpactX.co and represents the People Centered Internet on the ITU and UNICEF led GIGA project to connect all the schools of the world. She leads the PCI team on EQUALS.org and was a finalist for 2018 Woman of the Year at the Silicon Valley Women in IT Awards organized by Information Age.

A technology pioneer known as  the Godmother of CRM, she organized the 40th anniversary of the “Mother of All Demos” for Douglas Engelbart and led the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the TCP/IP specification with Vint Cerf. She was on the 2-person skunkworks team charged by Tom Siebel to design and develop “OASIS,” the proto-CRM system used internally in Oracle. She served Marc Benioff as  Director of Finance when he took over Oracle Desktop and Direct Marketing Division from Tom Siebel. Starting as the expert on Networked Improvement Communities, she became Socio-technical Lead for the US Defense Health Authority’s Federal Health Futures initiative, and lead author of the 2011 and 2012 final reports.

Mei Lin is an MIT SLOAN graduate where she studied with two future Nobel Economics prize winners Franco Modigliani and Robert Merton, and with Fisher Black who is known for the Black-Scholes Options Pricing formula. After MIT, she joined Intel and was responsible for the organization wide Geographic P&L report and consolidating forecasts from all Intel operating units before moving to Intel’s Distribution Marketing group and as alpha test user for the Intel in-house distribution sales tracking system, developed the understanding for the initial design of OASIS, the precursor of today’s CRM systems.

Mei Lin chairs the IEEE pre-standards working group for Social Impact Measurement. She
was the IEEE Standards Association Liaison to, and now serves as Assessment Chair for the IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee and is a member of the IEEE Sustainable Development Taskforce.

Mei Lin lives in California USA and is a citizen of Singapore.

Ms. Yvette Ramos
Ms. Yvette RamosPresident/President and co-founderSwiss Engineering Genève/WOMENVAI

Ms. Yvette Ramos has a Ms. Science of Engineering (electronics-telecom), EPF, France and Ms. Human Resource Management, MBA. With a background in Engineering and twenty five years professional experience, starting with a position of project manager in the industry (Schlumberger, Ascom) to expert in strategic planning and change management – including capacity development for telecom companies and hydromet services at international level – she has developed extensive experience on managing teams and projects abroad.

Over the last twenty years, she has had the chance to work with international teams, both in the private and public sectors and in the business & development environment. She holds the position of expert at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) – a specialized United Nations Agency – the Development Bureau, and the World Meteorological organization, both with HQ based in Geneva, Switzerland.

All the while, being the first female president of the +100 years aged Swiss Engineering Geneva chapter and founder and president of WomenVai, an international NGO platform for innovative projects in Environment and High-Tech, led by women, and supported by both women AND men.

Ms. Maya Plentz
Ms. Maya PlentzEditor-in-ChiefThe UN Brief

Maya Plentz covers technology and innovation at the United Nations and its agencies, for The UN Brief, a subscription-based news platform, and a digital-first news site.

She started her career in business news as a science and technology reporter at Bloomberg TV, in New York City.  Ms. Maya Plentz thrives in fast-paced, data-driven news environments.

At the UN she covered international conferences, including the first gathering of world leaders to discuss the impact of new technologies in society and the economy, the World Summit on the Information Society organized by the UN agency for telecommunications, the International Telecommunications Union, and UNESCO.

As an international affairs news producer and editor she presented the UN official daily news bulletins and weekly features, with an audience reach of 30 million+ a week through partner stations, including BBC World and Radio France International. She covered Security Council meetings, the General Assembly at the United Nations Headquarters in NYC, and all UN system specialized agencies including the WHO, FAO, UNESCO, UNICEF, and WIPO.

Ms. Maya Plentz also wrote, presented, and produced newscasts for the UN Radio website on the World Sustainable Development Summit, where she managed international teams of news producers, engineers, UX/UI designers, and software developers to deliver broadcast news content and the daily website updates.

In 2016 Ms. Maya Plentz was appointed by the European Commission to the High Level Group of Experts to review the impact of Horizon 2020, the $100 Billion Framework Programme to fund Research and Innovation in the EU, and to make recommendations for the upcoming funding cycle, Horizon Europe.

After a career in the performing arts, she graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Political Science, with a focus on digital media and international relations. Most of her coursework was taken at the  School of International and Public Affairs, and at Columbia Business School.

She also consulted in press relations and was a strategic communications advisor for SaaS, higher education, and consumer tech companies. She also developed international media relations campaigns for QS University Rankings, Florida International University, and the enterprise software alliance in the South of Brazil, Softsul.

Ms. Maya Plentz led strategic communications in Latin America for the first e-Government tech company that raised $60 Million in the US, from venture capital firms KKR and other Silicon Valley investors. She continues to advise tech startups, enterprise software trade bodies, and is a mentor and member of the selection committee at the tech accelerator and investment fund MassChallenge, for their programs in the US, Spain, Switzerland, UK, and Mexico.

She is a speaker and moderator at tech conferences on new technologies for news media, strategic communications, and women in tech. To invite her to moderate or speak at your conference, or teach a workshop in media training, please get in touch via LinkedIn, Twitter, or using the form below.

Ms. Gitanjali Sah
Ms. Gitanjali Sah  |  Strategy and Policy Coordinator  ITU  |  Moderator

Gitanjali Sah is Strategy and Policy Coordinator at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and is responsible for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) process. She has more than 15 years of work experience in ICT policy issues at the national, regional and international level. She is an experienced International Civil Servant having worked at several UN Agencies. She holds M.Phil. Development Studies, University of Cambridge, UK and a Masters in Political Science, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, India.