UN makes ‘declaration of digital interdependence’, with release of tech report

UN Photo/Mark Garten Melinda Gates, Co-Chair of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (c), Jack Ma, Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group (l) and the UN Secretary-General António Guterres (r) discuss how digital cooperation and technology can contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

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


The digital future must be safer and more inclusive, says a new tech report, “the Age of Digital Interdependence”, released on Monday by the UN High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, almost a year after the Panel was launched by Secretary-General António Guterres.

The digital future must be safer and more inclusive, says a new tech report, “the Age of Digital Interdependence”, released on Monday by the UN High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, almost a year after the Panel was launched by Secretary-General António Guterres.

The launch included a “declaration of digital interdependence” on the part of the study’s authors, which describes humanity as being “in the foothills” of the digital age. It also lays out the risks faced by mankind, such as exploitative behaviour by private companies, a failure to realize human potential, and the stifling of necessary regulation.

The declaration outlines the Panel’s belief that cooperation in the digital space is paramount, as individuals, institutions, corporations and governments cannot manage digital developments alone, and that global aspirations and vulnerabilities are “deeply interconnected and interdependent”.

The report explores the ways that digital technology can help achieve the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; how digital tech relates to human rights and security; and models for digital cooperation between different parts of society. Several recommendations are contained within the report, based on the three main areas.

Inclusivity, trust and cooperation in the digital future

At a time when around half the world’s population still has no access to the Internet, the panel calls for every adult to have affordable access to digital networks, as well as digitally-enabled financial and health services, by 2030.

Women and marginalized groups must be supported, says the Panel, with specific policies adopted to ensure their full “digital inclusion”, and internationally recognized ways to measure inclusiveness must be established.

In order to protect human rights, the report recommends that the Secretary-General should conduct a global review of the ways in which human rights norms apply to digital technology, and calls on social media companies to cooperate fully in responding to human rights concerns.

Trust issues should be addressed with a “Global Commitment on Digital Trust and Security”, and new forms of global cooperation should be developed by the UN Secretary-General, said the Panel, based on the report recommendations.

Women must have ‘a seat at the table’

The launch of the report was marked with a live Webchat, featuring Mr. Guterres, Jack Ma, Executive Chairman of the Chinese conglomerate Alibaba Group, and Melinda Gates, co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

For Jack Ma, digital technology is helping to make globalization more inclusive. Giving the example of his own digital company, Alibaba, Mr. Ma said that of the 10 million small businesses selling products via his online platforms, 50 per cent of the most effective “power sellers”, are women. Mr. Ma claimed that most of the fears surrounding the internet come from the more developed economies which want to “hold on to yesterday”, whilst in China, and African countries, young people are less afraid of the future.

Melinda Gates insisted that women must have a “seat at the table, as the creators of society”, pointing out that women entrepreneurs currently receive just 6% of venture capital funding for digital start-ups. Regarding fears over inadequate internet governance, Ms. Gates acknowledged that this is a legitimate concern, but noted that the technology sector is coming together to self-govern and collaborate. Smart regulation, however, is also necessary to solve problems.

Mr. Guterres recalled that the growth of the internet began with a “naïve optimism”, but inequalities have actually grown. He called for digital technology to be used for a “quantum leap” in global development, and for everyone to have access to the internet. Without a huge commitment and investment in digital inclusion, he said, conflicts and mistrusts will grow.

‘The longer we wait, the further we will fall behind’: UN chief

The Secretary-General also spoke at an informal meeting of the General Assembly at UN Headquarters on Monday, at which he urged Member States to closely study the report, and expressed his hopes that it will stimulate an “urgent and open debate between governments, the private sector, civil society and others on how we move forward together safely in the age of digital interdependence”.

The United Nations itself, as the “multilateral system of the digital age”, said the UN Chief, is “unprepared and needs to catch up”, he said, adding that, every day, he sees ways that digital tech can help the UN to achieve its mission of peace, human rights and sustainable development.

However, he also sees daily examples of the disruption that digital technology can cause and the threats it can bring to that mission. “The international community is failing to meet its responsibilities. The systems for governance of digital technology are old, fragmented and reactive. The longer we wait to update these systems, the further we will fall behind.”

The 20-strong High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation is co-chaired by Jack Ma and Melinda Gates, with members drawn from a diverse group of independent experts, including US internet pioneer Vint Cerf, and South Korea-based digital marketing mastermind Sophie Eom. The Panel was created to fulfil 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, in tackling the challenges of the digital age.         

the sting Milestones

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

African cooperation on peace ‘increasingly strong’, Security Council told

4 ways Africa can prepare its youth for the digital economy

Mobile technology saving lives: Changing healthcare systems with simple technology solutions

A Sting Exclusive: “Technology for all, development for all: the role of ITU”, written by the Secretary General of the United Nations Agency

The historical performance of women in human health

Mental health in times of a pandemic: what can each individual do to lessen the burden?

Why the way of loving closes doors of health?

MEPs agree on future regional and cohesion funding

Sakharov Prize 2021: Parliament to announce candidates

‘More time’ agreed for buffer zone, to spare three million Syrian civilians in Idlib

Lockdown is the world’s biggest psychological experiment – and we will pay the price

5 ways cities can use emerging technologies to fight climate change

COVID-19: Commission steps up research funding and selects 17 projects in vaccine development, treatment and diagnostics

Coronavirus: new procedure to facilitate and speed up approval of adapted vaccines against COVID-19 variants

These are the most innovative cities in the world

How COVID-19 revealed 3 critical AI procurement blindspots that could put lives at risk

Indonesian tsunami death toll climbs over 400 as Government-led relief efforts are stepped up

Coronavirus: Macro-financial assistance agreement provides for €80 million disbursement to North Macedonia

Digital Finance Package: Commission sets out new, ambitious approach to encourage responsible innovation to benefit consumers and businesses

Should trade continue to be global after the pandemic?

UN chief applauds Bangladesh for ‘opening borders’ to Rohingya refugees in need

The European Commission and Austria secure COVID-19 vaccines for the Western Balkans

Violent disorder is on the rise. Is inequality to blame?

Storms and snow in Lebanon worsen plight for Syrian refugees

Ditching plastic straws isn’t enough. Here’s how to achieve zero waste.

A call for a new crop of innovators

Planet’s Health is Our Health and the Reverse is True

NextGenerationEU: European Commission disburses €24.9 billion in pre-financing to Italy

EU Digital COVID Certificate enters into application in the EU

EU to pay a dear price if the next crisis catches Eurozone stagnant and deflationary; dire statistics from Eurostat

The results of Finland’s basic income experiment are in. Is it working?

Growing a new coral reef in a fraction of the time with a fragment of the coral

EU elections update: Can the EU voters vote unaffected from fake news and online disinformation?

This plastic-free bag dissolves in water

Canada has high levels of well-being and solid growth but trade tensions and housing market pose risks while inclusiveness could be improved

Global leaders adopt agenda to overcome COVID-19 crisis and avoid future pandemics

Safer roads: More life-saving technology to be mandatory in vehicles

The cuts on 2014 Budget will divide deeply the EU

FROM THE FIELD: Weather reports come to aid of Uganda’s farmers

EU leaders let tax-evaders untouched

What does reimagining our energy system look like?

Unprecedented humanitarian crisis in Mali revealed in new report

UN Envoy urges Burundi leaders to ‘seize opportunities for national unity and peace’

Tuesday’s Daily Brief: funding for Palestine refugees, families today, tech surveillance

Meeting the crypto regulatory challenge

Business models inspired by nature are the future

Business is a crucial partner in solving the mental health challenge

3 important lessons from 20 years of working with social entrepreneurs

3 ways to ensure the internet’s future is creative, collaborative and fair

UN must bring more women police officers into the fold to be effective – UN peacekeeping official

Getting vaccinated should just be considered a human right?

It’s time for the circular economy to go global – and you can help

Prospect of lasting peace ‘fading by the day’ in Gaza and West Bank, senior UN envoy warns

Does the “climate change” require ombudsman services for environment?

Not a single child spared the ‘mind-boggling violence’ of Yemen’s war

Stakeholder capitalism is urgently needed – and the COVID-19 crisis shows us why

Here’s how we get businesses to harmonize on climate change

Climate change and health: a much needed multidisciplinary approach

Desires for national independence in Europe bound by economic realities

Brazil must immediately end threats to independence and capacity of law enforcement to fight corruption

More Stings?

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

%d bloggers like this: