Statement on the UN’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation

On June 11th, Secretary-General Guterres announced the UN’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation. The Roadmap takes forward recommendations of the High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation on digital connectivity, digital inclusion, human rights, artificial intelligence, and trust and security. As part of its rollout, Kate Wilson joined a discussion on UN TV and spoke in support of the Roadmap and key areas where DIAL is and will continue to be supportive. Below is her full statement:  

I’m Kate Wilson, CEO of the Digital Impact Alliance, housed at the UN Foundation. Thank you for the opportunity to join this important discussion and celebrate the progress made over the last year. We appreciate the leadership of the UN and the Secretary General in this critical area, as well as the efforts and commitment of all the key constituents and stakeholders.  

We are living through unprecedented times. Overlapping crises imperil progress towards the SDGs and continue to disproportionately affect the most vulnerable. But we also see the global community cooperating in new ways ttake swift action 

As the Secretary General has said, digital technologies are essential tools in defeating the COVID-19 pandemic, and achieving the 2030 Agenda. The pandemic response simultaneously  showcases all the rewards, and all the risks of digital. We are reckoning with deep inequity in our societies, and digital technologies embody those biases. We can, and we must do better. DIAL is proud to steward the Principles for Digital Development, living guidelines that help its over 220 endorsers toward more ethical and more community-led digital practice. 

Digital transformation at country level is critical to deliver services and better understand and respond to the challenges we face. We know from the work of countries like Estonia, South Korea and Singapore that digital transformation can expand access to basic services. We must accelerate our progress, and work smarter – we must commit to working across sectors and the whole of society to align on policy, financing, and good practice. DIAL’s mission is to help the digital ecosystem to come together to realize our digital transformation agenda. 

Working together is a necessity if we are to achieve the SDGs. We heartily welcome the emphasis placed on this by the Secretary General and all those involved in the follow-up to the High Level Panel. This multi-stakeholder process has been an excellent example of digital cooperation, with countries, international organizations, and private companies coming together to envision the digital future we want for our global society. As a former Microsoft employee, I welcomed Brad Smith’s comments yesterday, which underscored the need for a renewed commitment to multi-stakeholder cooperation if we are to ensure that technology serves everyone in the world. The private sector has a critical role to play, not just as a supporter and contributor to open source, although it does and will do those things – but as a provider of critical proprietary digital solutions and services that countries and citizens rely on every day.  

We also commend key constituents and the office of the Secretary General for centering the experiences of countries in this process. Country governments must drive their own digital transformation journeys; global efforts must align to support those journeys; and we must focus as much on strengthening demand  for digital global goods as on the development of new global goods themselves. We warmly welcome the commitment made by the Secretary General yesterday to supporting a multi-stakeholder network to promote digital capacity building for sustainable development, and commit to lending our support and collaboration to our colleagues at the ITU and UNDP.  

As this network strengthens demand-side capacity, we look forward to continuing to support the Digital Public Goods Alliance, through our Open Source Center and our work to catalog digital global goods and make this complex marketplace easier to navigate. We know that together, we can go far. 

Thank you.