World leaders commit to cooperate to advance the use of digital public goods in support of inclusive development results
The implementation of safe, reliable and inclusive digital public infrastructure, supported by strong governance frameworks, is essential for countries to build a resilient future. On June 1, heads of government, international development organizations and philanthropic funders came together to pledge large-scale technology sharing, funding and commitment to support this international cooperation agenda.
At a high-level event this week, world leaders jointly committed to advancing the use of digital public goods (DPGs) – the open source solutions needed to build a digital public infrastructure (DPI) that can enable countries to provide better services and foster inclusive economic growth. The event was organized by the Digital Public Goods Alliance (DPGA), the Government of Norway, the Government of Sierra Leone and the United Nations Development Programme.
Digital public infrastructure – the digital systems such as money transfers, digital identification and data exchange that enable the efficient delivery of essential functions across society – can play a vital role in strengthening resilience, including pandemic and crisis recovery. At the event, world leaders committed to implementing and funding digital public infrastructure through a new Digital Public Goods Charter, which serves as a framework for increasing international cooperation on this agenda.
The DPG Charter, co-led by the DPGA and the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL), outlines a clear vision for a coordinated global approach to building a safe, reliable and inclusive digital public infrastructure using DPG. This can enable countries – regardless of income level – to transform services and service delivery for people and communities around the world.
The DPG Charter and the commitments made by world leaders are particularly relevant given the devastating socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing climate disruption. These challenges, compounded by the unprecedented food, energy and financial crisis precipitated by the war in Ukraine, create an urgent need for action.
Investing in digital public infrastructure that puts human rights at the center and promotes holistic, gender-responsive approaches can mitigate short-term economic shocks and build resilient systems for the future. The benefits are proven: countries that had well-governed public digital infrastructure weathered the pandemic better than countries that did not. These countries have been able to respond more quickly to challenges by capitalizing on the use of pre-established, high-quality, welfare-enhancing digital systems.
DPGs are built on open standards and therefore support greater interoperability. This can reduce duplication, save time and money in implementation, and provide opportunities for digital cooperation globally. The DPG Charter promotes the use of DPGs for digital public infrastructure, which in turn can create a fairer and more inclusive playing field for countries and local digital ecosystems around the world – by increasing the participation of micro – traders, including women, in e-commerce; improving children’s access to education; ensuring the digitization of the last mile of payments and cash transfers; and strengthening crisis preparedness and resilience.
This event, and the pledges made, marks the starting point for global cooperation on PGDs for PGD – and the funding to support it – between governments, multilateral organizations, donors and the private sector. These efforts are in line with the UN Secretary-General’s roadmap for digital cooperation, as well as the activities of the Global Digital Compact and the Future Summit in 2023.
Here are some of the leaders who have pledged their support to move this initiative forward:
Alkesh Kumar SharmaSecretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, India“By joining the DPGA, we are committed to making available India’s digital public infrastructure, such as the Universal Payment Interface (UPI), as global digital public goods, and will offer technical assistance to countries of implementation to advance global well-being for all.”
Eva-Maria Liimets, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Estonia“Estonia remains committed to supporting the development of the X-road solution and championing it as a digital public good that can drive digitization, and also plans to invest a minimum of €20 million in solutions of open source AI in 2022-2023.”
Niels Annen, State Secretary at the Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany: “Germany has invested 20 million euros in the GovStack initiative to accelerate the development of digital government services by sharing interoperable and reusable digital building blocks and has earmarked additional funds for the initiative.”
Zunaid Ahmed Palak, Minister of State, ICT Division, Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology, Bangladesh: “In order to respond to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s call to build an equitable, high-income smart Bangladesh by 2041, this requires an uncompromising and relentless focus on ensuring digital equity enabled by DPGs and large-scale digital public infrastructure. This is precisely why I am proud to announce today that the Government of Bangladesh will join the Digital Public Goods Alliance and fully endorse the vision of the Digital Public Goods Charter.
Paula Ingabire, Minister of ICT and Innovation, Rwanda“Rwanda fully subscribes to the vision set out in the Charter for Digital Public Goods. We are committed to driving the DPG agenda forward. By joining the Digital Public Goods Alliance today, we commit to contributing our expertise and sharing lessons learned as well as learning from the successes of different partners.
Mykhailo Fedorov, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation, Ukraine: “It is the digital public infrastructure that allows us to continue to provide services to our citizens. It has also become the foundation for data-driven decision-making processes […] In collaboration with UNDP, in very difficult conditions, we provided digital public services for the reception of displaced people [internally displaced people] status. We are working on a platform for payment and deduplication of international humanitarian agencies through Diia services.
Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Nandan Nilekani, Co-Founder and Chairman of Infosys Technologies Limited, have spoken in support of the DPG Charter and confirmed their strong commitment to advancing investments in digital public infrastructure , enabled by the DPGs, for financial inclusion, social protection and inclusive development.
Other participating countries that pledged their support and commitments at the event include: Norway, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Sweden, Uganda, as well as leaders from USAID, UNDP and from UNICEF.
Distributed by APO Group for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
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