UN Secretary-General and Panel Co-Chairs Emphasize the Need for New Ways of Working Together in the Digital Age
The UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation met this week at the United Nations in Geneva to review insights gleaned from its global consultation and discuss ideas for its forthcoming report.
Ms. Melinda Gates and Mr. Jack Ma co-chaired the meeting. UN Secretary-General António Guterres joined via video conference.
The Secretary-General called on the Panel to reflect on both the risks as well as the incredible benefits of digital transformation – particularly with regards to how technology can help accelerate achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. The Secretary-General urged the Panel to “make bold recommendations – we need new thinking and innovative ideas to harness the benefits and manage the risks of this digital age.”
“This is truly an exciting and critical moment. We just marked the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and 50 percent of the world is now online. Today, we are challenged to induce responsible behavior in the digital age,” said Panel member Vint Cerf.
At the meeting Panel members discussed what they heard from governments, private sector, academia, technical communities, civil society, and inter-governmental organizations across the world. Since July 2018, Panel members met over 2,000 individuals at over 60 events, convened seven virtual discussion groups with international experts on topics such as inclusive development, data, human rights and human agency, and digital trust & security.
Representatives from the Panel have visited tech hubs including Silicon Valley, China, Israel, and India, met with policymakers in Paris, Beijing, Brussels, Berlin, Washington, Delhi and Astana, and participated in tech and digital policy events such as the Internet Governance Forum, the International Conference of Data Privacy & Protection Commissioners, the World AI Summit, the Wuzhen Internet Conference, the Web Summit, the Raisina Dialogue and Africa e- Commerce Week. The Panel’s online call for contributions, which is open until 31 January 2019, has thus far yielded close to 100 detailed written submissions from individuals and organizations from 33 countries. Of the contributions analyzed thus far, over 65 percent highlighted “inclusivity” as the most important value for the digital age.
Over the two days of the meeting, the Panel deliberated on the framing and contents of its final report. The programme also included a working lunch with the heads of ITU, WIPO and UNCTAD to discuss their experience with international cooperation in the digital realm, as well as an informal gathering with diplomats, civil society and international organizations in Geneva.
In the next phase of its work, the Panel will hone the recommendations of the report that will be submitted to the UN Secretary-General by mid-2019.