UN chief urges top digital tech panel to come up with ‘bold, innovative ideas’ for an ‘inclusive’ future

UN Photo/Adam Kane High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation led by philanthropist Melinda Gates (left-center) and Alibaba founder Jack Ma (with microphone). January 2019.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.

Key discussions among global decision-makers and influencers have taken place at the UN in Geneva this week, aiming to limit the growing risk of international cyber-attacks while promoting the advantages of digital technology, amid a call by the UN chief for “bold, innovative ideas”.

In his appeal to a UN panel of experts led by philanthropist Melinda Gates and Alibaba founder Jack Ma, Secretary-General António Guterres called on its members to reflect on the risks and benefits of our digital age – the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“We need new thinking and innovative ideas to harness the benefits and manage the risks of this digital age,” he said via video-link, while urging the High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation to reflect on how technology could accelerate the 2030 Agenda on sustainable development.

High-level panel a relative ‘rarity’

Created at the express wish of the UN chief in 2018, the high-level panel is a relative rarity – only 20 or so have been convened in the organization’s more than 70-year history.

The panel’s diverse membership – which includes US internet pioneer Vint Cerf, and South Korea-based digital marketing mastermind Sophie Eom – fulfils the UN chief’s wish to include input from industry and the private sector, as well as governments, academia, civil society and inter-governmental organizations.

The discussions will result in a final report, to be published in the summer.

“This is truly an exciting and critical moment,” Mr Cerf said. “We just marked the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and 50 per cent of the world is now online. Today, we are challenged to induce responsible behaviour in the digital age.”

Another original feature of the panel’s work is its mission to be inter-disciplinary and hear “from all four corners” of the globe, to better understand the priorities and ideas of UN Member States, private sector companies, civil society organisations, academia and tech communities, said spokesperson Anoush Tatevosian.

“It’s not just about artificial intelligence, data privacy or internet governance, it’s about the intersection of these things,” she explained. “The problem today is that these issues are often discussed in their separate corners.”

Online call for contributions reveals demand for inclusivity

The Panel’s online call for contributions, which is open until 31 January 2019, has already yielded close to 100 written submissions from 33 countries.

Of the ideas analysed so far, most highlighted “inclusivity” as the most important value for the digital age, Ms Tatevosian said.

Since July 2018, Panel members have met more than 2,000 individuals and convened seven virtual discussion groups on topics such as inclusive development, data, human rights and human agency, along with digital trust and security.

In addition to visiting US Silicon Valley and technology hubs in China, Israel and India, members have also met policymakers in Paris, Beijing, Brussels, Berlin, Washington, Delhi and Astana and participated in digital policy events including the Web Summit, the Raisina Dialogue in India, and Africa e-Commerce Week.

Digital age challenges ‘among key issues of our time’

Also meeting in Geneva, the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace heard that the global debate around international security and information and communications technology (ICT) had evolved into a wider discussion about development and human rights, after a first General Assembly resolution in 1998.

Renata Dwan, Director of UNIDIR, the UN Institute for Disarmament Research, hosted the discussions, and said that after being on the agenda for several decades, “what we’ve seen is really the discussion around what cyber-stability means and for whom it means something, really expand”.

“We’ve seen the debate that started about State behaviour and responsible State behaviour has really become a much wider discussion about the role of the private sector, the role of communities, of regions, of cities, and indeed of individuals – and how to develop space for rights, for equity, for development and for access that enhances development of all”, she added.

Participating at both the cybersecurity event and the high-level panel, Fabrizio Hochschild, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Coordination, explained that initial hopes for digital technology had given way to a more cautious assessment.

“After years of unbridled optimism – justified optimism – surrounding the development of digital technologies of cyberspace, we now have come to the sober realization that those positive developments carry downsides,” Mr. Hochschild explained.

He added: “We’re at the point of asking ourselves, ‘will emerging technologies contribute to peace overall or will they undermine it? Will they generally further access to sustainable development or will they further inequality? Will they facilitate respect for human rights or will they provide new tools to those who wish to contain or violate the realization of human rights?’”

Such questions reflect the Secretary General’s belief that the challenges posed by the digital age are one of the key issues of our time – “next to climate change, next to dealing with inequality,” Mr. Hochschild said, before noting the “absence” of international mechanisms that could prevent digital flashpoints from escalating.

“Some 30 States have the capacity to defend themselves and those capacities are daily being built up”, he explained. “But where does that leave the other 163 countries that don’t have such a capacity, or the financial means, or political means to defend themselves?”

Suggesting that the digital sphere “amplifies existing inequalities”, the UN official noted that among the most pressing challenges are tackling the lack of internet access in the world’s poorest nations – where fewer than one in five people has regular electricity – and addressing a large and growing digital gender gap.

“In 2019 it is shocking that the number of women who access the internet is 10 per cent lower than men,” Mr. Hochschild said. “In developed countries it’s 33 per cent lower, and the worst thing is, those statistics are getting worse, not better.”

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Climate change and health: public health awareness in an international framework

The Bavarians threaten Berlin and Brussels with immigration crisis

Here’s how the EU is doing on gender equality

Zuckerberg, a paella, and the mighty EU questionnaires that would stop Whatsapp acquisition by Facebook?

State aid: Commission invites comments on State aid rules for the deployment of broadband networks

COP21 Breaking News_09 December: The Draft Agreement Updated

The global appetite for meat is growing, and it’s harming the planet

‘Answer the call of Afghans’ to reduce impact of conflict, UN urges all parties amid increase in civilian airstrike deaths

Chart of the day: This is what violence does to a nation’s GDP

TTIP wins Merkel’s endorsement ahead of 2016 tough deadline

This Chinese tech giant’s latest gadget is… a bus

Can the banking union help Eurozone counter its imminent threats?

Dutch voters reject EU-Ukraine partnership and open a new pandora’s box for the EU

Easing fears and promoting gender equality in Chad’s girls-only classrooms

DR Congo: Electoral process advancing despite threat of armed groups, UN envoy tells Security Council

May a parody constitute a copyright infringement? European Court of Justice to give the answer

As COP25 goes into the night, Guterres calls for more climate ambition

Heart attacks and strokes are more common on high pollution days, data shows

Crowdfunding: what it is and what it may become

Canada grants asylum for Saudi teen who fled family: UNHCR

World cannot be transformed without ‘ingenuity of the countries of the South’: UN Chief

We are ‘burning up our future’, UN’s Bachelet tells Human Rights Council

Twenty days that may remold the future of Europe

Greece and Ukraine main items on EU28 menu; the course is set

Seaweed, enzymes and compostable cups: Can ‘Big Food’ take on plastic and win?

Carnage must stop in northwest Syria demands Lowcock, as attacks intensify

Greater transparency, fairer prices for medicines ‘a global human rights issue’, says UN health agency

How Africa and Asia are joining forces on universal healthcare

Ebola in DR Congo: New transmission chain risks reversing major gains

CHALLENGING THE ZEITGEIST OF DIGITAL – Change making projects innovate mobile support for refugees, inclusive environments, early breast cancer detection and more

Family-friendly policies benefit all of us. Here are 4 ways to boost them

End discrimination against women and children affected by leprosy

Walk, cycle, dance and play – UN health agency recommends new action plan for good health

UN and Red Cross chiefs appeal for end to use of explosive weapons in cities

Air quality: Commission takes action to protect citizens from air pollution

This man is installing 100 trash barriers in Bali’s rivers to stop plastic pollution

UN chief ‘deeply saddened’ by Ethiopia plane crash which killed 157, including at least 21 UN workers

Boom in Artificial Intelligence patents, points to ‘quantum leap’ in tech: UN report

This robot has soft hands. It could be the future of sustainable production

The space internet race is dawning. Here’s what to expect

How has policy affected employment in small businesses in the US?

COVID-19: More new virus cases outside China than in, ‘no time for complacency’, says UN health agency

A machine din

Computer skills are crucial for children – in lockdown and in life

Stop illegal trade in cats and dogs, say MEPs

As Houthi forces withdraw from key Yemeni ports, UN monitoring chief welcomes ‘first practical step on the ground’

‘Repeated attacks’ could close down key hospital in eastern Libya, says WHO

The horrific trend of the anti-vaccine movement in Turkey

European Youth Capital 2018 : Cascais

EU economic governance: More exploitation for the weaker countries

Global South cooperation ‘vital’ to climate change fight, development, Guterres tells historic Buenos Aires summit

G20 LIVE: “International communities and leaders have great expectations for 2016 G20 summit in Hangzhou China”, Mr Wang Xiaolong, the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s special envoy stresses live from G20 in Antalya Turkey

Climate change is destroying a barrier that protects the US from hurricanes

COVID-19: Commission launches European team of scientific experts to strengthen EU coordination and medical response

ISIS fighters fleeing Mosul for Syria can topple Assad. Why did the US now decide to uproot them from Iraq?

The secret to Bangladesh’s economic success? The Sheikh Hasina factor

Evidence shows ‘brutal’ killing of Saudi journalist ‘planned and perpetrated’ by State officials: UN independent expert

Madagascar: UN Secretary-General reaffirms support for electoral process

MEPs cap prices of calls within EU and approve emergency alert system

COVID-19: ‘Top priority’ must be on containment, insists WHO’s Tedros

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s