United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today announced the launch of a High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation.

“The scale, spread and speed of change made possible by digital technologies is unprecedented, but the current means and levels of international cooperation are unequal to the challenge,” Mr. Guterres said.

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“Digital technologies make a significant contribution to the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals and they cut uniquely across international boundaries. Therefore, cooperation across domains and across borders is critical to realizing the full social and economic potential of digital technologies as well as mitigating the risks that they pose and curtailing any unintended consequences.”

Melinda Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Jack Ma, Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group, have been appointed by the Secretary-General as Co-Chairs of the Panel. The Panel has a total of 20 members, representing a cross-section of expertise from Government, private industry, civil society, academia and the technical community. A full list appears below.

The Secretary-General has asked the Panel to contribute to the broader public debate on the importance of cooperative and interdisciplinary approaches to ensure a safe and inclusive digital future for all taking into account relevant human rights norms. The Panel is expected to identify policy, research and information gaps, and make proposals to strengthen international cooperation in the digital space.

“Technology is neither good nor bad. It’s just a tool — a very powerful tool — and what matters is how the world uses it. If all people, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, have equal access to digital technology, they will use it to improve life for themselves and their families and raise their voices in conversations about what the future holds. Enabling this widescale empowerment is what this Panel is about,” said Ms. Gates.

The Panel will hold its first in-person meeting in late September 2018 and is expected to submit its final report to the Secretary-General within nine months.

In carrying out its work, the Panel will undertake a wide range of public consultations, including at least two public events and an open process inviting global inputs including through online engagement activities starting in September. It will be supported by a small Secretariat funded by donor resources, and based in New York and Geneva.

“Soon, every industry will be digitized, and this will have a tremendous impact on every aspect of life. In this digital era, data and technology are more broadly available, enabling entrepreneurialism, economic growth, and improved quality of life for those who have the access and training to leverage it. Global, cross-sector collaboration is critical to ensure the benefits of the digital era are possible for all,” said Mr. Ma.

Members of the High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation