The risk that advances in digital technology benefit those who are already online and could contribute to greater inequality within and among countries needs to be addressed by effective policies, leaving no one behind.
The United Nations system is engaged to help address these challenges. Recently, the UN Secretary General during the High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation presented recommendations to optimize the use of digital technologies and mitigate the above mentioned risks. UN/CEFACT responded to the challenge and gathered some 200 trade experts from governments, private sector, international organizations, civil society, and academia in order to discuss the impact of the latest rapid technological developments and related change on achieving the Sustainable Developments Goals (SDGs).
The UN/CEFACT Webinar on Technology Developments: Potential for Impacting Cross-Border Trade highlighted how sharing knowledge, and building collaboration through technology, innovative policies and standards, can promote an inclusive digital economy.
The following three recommendations were identified:
- To build trust and pay particular attention to implement new technologies in developing countries and in transition economies;
- To overcome entry barriers through proper education, learning, networking, interaction and knowledge sharing between companies, developers, students, mentors and peers;
- To adopt new technologies such as AI, Digital Twins in order to create business opportunity and this will increase countries revenue and reduce costs of transactions.
All UN/CEFACT projects and activities share the main goal: supporting the implementation of SDGs, especially promoting economic growth (SDG8), fostering innovation (SDG9) and revitalizing global partnership for sustainable development (SDG17) harnessing the benefits of the available technology in the area of trade and logistics.
“We cannot predict with certainty where technology developments will lead us in next 10 years from now, still, we must make sure that we try to understand and educate ourselves in the current developments” said Marek Laskowski Adjunct Professor at York University (Toronto) and UN/CEFACT Vice Chair, he added: “technologies and tools vary greatly from those that glamourous and draw mainstream interest to those that do not fire the imagination of the public as much but are no less impactful or transformational on our daily lives. Technologies also vary greatly in their stages of adoption, some are already entrenched within our business processes, others are just beginning adoption, or still in the exploratory stages”.
The webinar shed light on innovative technologies which have the potential to transform trade in the near future, such us:
- Digital Twins in a cross-border supply chains which are mirrors of physical objects in the trade processes such as the consignment, a container, or a vessel which is represented in a trade management system such as a port management system enabling intelligent and autonomous transport.
- Interfaces between independent systems is increasingly happening using JSON-based Application Programing Interfaces (API). The speakers showcased how standardized and interoperable, UN/CEFACT semantics are being made available to a wider group of Web developers.
- Decentralized Web (Web3) has the potential to remove barriers in regional economies as well as emerging circular economies; with education being a key ingredient in its adoption. Central Bank Digital Currencies (or CBDC), are a development that underlines the rapid pace of progress in some sectors. An idea that was considered untenable a few short years ago, CBDCs are now seeing rapid, although nascent, proliferation and adoption.
- The notion of Self Sovereign Identity (SSI) facilitates the identifications of stakeholders in the supply chain and creates trust among participants.
- Artificial intelligence (AI) allows us to understand better supply and demand as well as to ensure sustainable planning and identification of trade issues in a transaction. It is also a central technology for broader shifts towards automation, from autonomous vehicles and drones, to warehouse robots and route optimization. Implementation of artificial intelligence requires a holistic approach including responsible development of AI governance education at all levels and analysing the social impact and ensuring its inclusiveness.
- Last but not least, the aforementioned decentralised technologies as well as blockchains and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) require new paradigms of management and decentralized control systems, which in turn present new challenges.
UNECE member States are mobilising significant funding and research expertise to explore the full potential of these cutting-edge technologies and progress towards mainstream adaptation. They could help to democratize innovation and open markets to future access and competition from developing countries, across the globe and in the UNECE region.
UNECE eBusiness standards such as the UN/CEFACT Core Component Library (UN/CCL) provide a vital technology ingredient for these innovative technology approaches. The semantic standards and object of this Library allow secure and unambiguous exchange of information objects which is the basis of any eBusiness system.
For more information on UN/CEFACT Projects related to new technologies please visit: https://www.unece.org/cefact.html