UNGA: Leaders Commit $295 Million To Inclusive Digital Infrastructure

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In the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, which ended in New York recently, high-level representatives from governments, civil society, the private sector, philanthropy and international organisations agreed to scale up efforts to build safe, trusted and inclusive digital public infrastructure (DPI) to achieve a more sustainable and equitable world.

In furtherance of these efforts, they committed to sharing digital public goods, knowledge, and learnings, while providing an initial $295 million in funding to support the development and adoption of inclusive DPI, scaling technical assistance and deeper capacity building.

The event with the theme, ‘the future of digital cooperation: building resilience through safe, trusted, and inclusive digital public infrastructure’, marks the first significant gathering of countries to advance the development and use of DPI and especially through digital public goods (DPGs).

The forum noted that as the world enters the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, it faces a combination of global crises: from disease, food insecurity, political instability and economic volatility to climate change.

Accordingly, effective and inclusive DPI, interoperable digital platforms that enable basic, society-wide transactions, such as ID systems, digital payments, and trusted data sharing – have shown to be a key mechanism to transform service delivery and increase resilience for future crises.

The forum claimed that DPGs – open source software, data, AI models, standards, and content – are rapidly becoming indispensable digital cooperation tools, helping countries shorten their learning and adoption curve as they build DPI.

“From cash transfers and food distribution to e-commerce and innovative models of education, digital economy, and healthcare delivery, inclusive DPI systems have become critical to enabling meaningful delivery of public and private services and underpinning the achievement of a range of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including poverty reduction, financial inclusion, women’s economic empowerment, and climate resilience,” the forum noted.

The event was chaired by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) together with co-hosts including members and partners of the Digital Public Goods Alliance – the Governments of Estonia, Germany, Norway and Sierra Leone, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF, Smart Africa, and the World Bank Group. It brought together high-level representatives from these organizations alongside global leaders from the Dominican Republic, India, Mauritania, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, Timor Leste, Togo, Ukraine, USA, the European Commission, H.M. Queen Máxima of the Netherlands in her capacity as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and members of the private sector and civil society to rally behind a compelling shared vision for accelerating the development of and use of DPI and DPGs, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.