Concerns are growing about how digital transformation can be used to create a better future while addressing pressing sustainable development needs.
Over the past three decades, digital transformation has altered the world as we know it. No part of life is untouched by digitalisation, which will continue to shape and revolutionise the future.
Last week, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Secretary-General, Mukhisa Kituyi, who chairs the United Nations Group on the Information Society (UNGIS), kicked off a new online dialogue series, which calls on 30 international agencies to respond with their vision of how digitalisation can advance development.
The UN’s Decade of Action calls for the acceleration of sustainable solutions to the world’s biggest challenges. They range from fighting pandemics, poverty and the gender divide to combating climate change, inequality and closing the finance gap.
Heeding this call will require a more digital world.
In his contribution entitled Making Digital Work for Sustainable Development: The Time to Act is Now, Kituyi stresses that urgent attention must be given to bridging existing and emerging digital divides.
“If left unaddressed, the yawning gap between under-connected and hyper-digitalized countries will widen and exacerbate existing inequalities”, he warns.
“The development challenges of digitalisation require a coordinated multilateral response, which can also help countries build resilience and facilitate responses to other cross-cutting challenges, such as climate change and the current COVID-19 pandemic”, Kituyi adds.
The rapid rise of digital technologies is transforming economic and social activities.
This affects all parts of the UN system and the work of its agencies. The UNGIS dialogue aims to inspire 30 international agencies and other stakeholders to envisage how digitalisation raises both opportunities and challenges to reaching sustainable development goals (SDGs).
It also represents a call for more effective collaboration and coordination around digitalisation within the UN system.
Heads of the 30 UNGIS member agencies will, over the remainder of 2020, contribute brief think pieces on how digitalization affects efforts to achieve the SDGs.
They will also examine how more effective collaboration in the UN system can promote inclusive development outcomes through digitalisation.
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