United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres convened the first in-person meeting of the High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation in New York this week. The Panel, comprising a diverse group of leaders including government ministers, young entrepreneurs, academics, and activists, discussed how collaborative, global approaches could help tackle some of the challenges posed by rapid technological change.
In his address to world leaders at the UN General Assembly yesterday, the Secretary-General explained his motivation for establishing the Panel: “With technology outracing institutions, cooperation between countries and among stakeholders will be crucial, including Member States, the private sector, research centres, civil society and academia. There are many mutually beneficial solutions for digital challenges. We need urgently to find the way to apply them.”
Melinda Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Jack Ma, Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group, led the meeting at UN Headquarters.
“We must work together to make the technology revolution more inclusive and ensure the digital era is one for all of humanity. Today our education is still based on the Industrial Age; we need to teach our children to do things chips and robots cannot do. We need to make internet technologies available to anyone in the world—even the smallest of businesses, empowering them to engage in the global marketplace,” said Jack Ma.
“I am optimistic that the world can make smart choices and use the tool of digital technology to help billions of people improve their lives. Our task is to be clear-eyed about the challenges and the opportunities and relentlessly practical about next steps,” said Melinda Gates.
During the two-day meeting, Panel members discussed how greater global cooperation could help achieve an inclusive and safe digital future for all. Panel members reviewed a range of issue areas in order to begin distilling potential principles and modalities for digital cooperation.
Among other topics, the group discussed building the capacity of individuals, organizations and governments to adapt to the digital age; putting human rights and human agency at the centre of technology; and bridging the digital divide. In addition, the panel agreed on plans for wide-ranging outreach to hear from communities around the world.
The Panel invites the public to get involved by participating in consultations and sharing ideas at www.digitalcooperation.org.