Over 60 participants worldwide joined the online roundtable organized by the UN Digital transformation group for Europe and Central Asia (DTG4ECA) in the framework of the Regional Forum on Sustainable Development for the UNECE region. Established in May 2020, DTG4ECA group, co-chaired by UNECE and International Telecommunication Union aims at delivering a one “UN response” to the cross-cutting priority through cooperation between different UN agencies in the field of digital transformation.
The peer-learning session on “Accelerating digital development through multi-stakeholder partnerships” brought together government partners, private sector representatives, academia and most importantly, youth – in the interactive discussion about collaborative solutions for accessible, affordable, and safe connectivity. Key stakeholders shared their experiences and exchanged ideas as well as highlighted potential challenges on the way to advancing the issue.
In her opening remarks, Ms. Olga Algayerova, Executive Secretary of UNECE highlighted the importance of multistakeholder partnerships and emphasized the need to ensure that digital transformation is “inclusive, sustainable and resilient”. She further stressed on the importance of ensuring that “accelerating digital transformation does not contribute to enhancing inequalities and increasing the digital divide.”
Country representatives and private sector stakeholders shared concrete case studies from their national experience on connecting people everywhere and empowering communities. Proposed solutions included calls for fostering digital development and bridging the digital divide, the need for reliable, disaggregated data and the importance of cross-sectoral partnerships to better connect people everywhere and empower local communities.
In the discussion on building digital eco-systems and incentivizing investments, private and public experts emphasised the importance and role of digital eco-systems and platforms in enhancing trust, transparency, traceability, and security of the flow of data, materials, goods and services. Convergent technologies enable efficient, real-time functioning of these platforms through the visibility and accessibility of data. UNECE and the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and eBusiness (UN/CEFACT) already have a longstanding history of promoting digital services and platforms for safer, more resilient and efficient trade value chains. More specifically, UN/CEFACT develops inter alia important standards for international information exchange in agriculture and food trade.
The work of this inter-governmental body was particularly appreciated during the COVID-19 crises, when the UN/CEFACT based electronic information exchange was crucial to keep trade stakeholders around the world connected and even more important, allowed for uninterrupted functioning of international supply chains. Moving forward, they will become even more important to mitigate the abrupt changes in the supply chain due to shortage of raw materials and trade sanctions and at the same time support implementation of the SDGs.