Aimed at ensuring an equitable digital future and with the experience of managing a range of development solutions from communities of practice, UNDP announced the launch of an ambitious digital strategy.
UNDP launched on Tuesday, its new digital strategy 2022-2025 to support countries and communities in their use of digital technologies as a lever to help drive down inequality, support inclusivity, tackle climate change, and open-up economic opportunities. The strategy is being undertaken “to get ahead of the ever-evolving digital reality to accelerate work towards achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs).
The digital strategy is one of the three enablers of UNDP’s strategic plan. It rests on the belief that digitalization will help UNDP meet its ambitious goals, primarily, supporting 100 million people to escape poverty and assisting 500 million people to gain access to clean energy.
“Digital technology can advance democracy and human rights by boosting civic engagement and political participation, for instance,” UNDP says. For instance, the UN organisation says, artificial intelligence and digital technology could bring a 10-20 per cent reduction in global carbon dioxide emissions by 2030.
UNDP says that it is already supporting communities to develop and use digital technology to surface a wide range of much-needed development solutions. For example, UNDP assisted 82 countries to adopt over 580 digital solutions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Over the past year, demand has grown among our partners to provide strategic support on national-level digital transformation,” says Robert Opp, UNDP’s Chief Digital Officer. “At present, UNDP is supporting 35 countries on their digital transformation journey – a strong signal in the trust and confidence placed in our organization to provide the cutting-edge support needed.”
The strategy will also help guide the organization in its efforts to tackle the emerging challenges associated with our new digital world. If left unchecked, digital technology can exacerbate existing inequalities and reinforce biases.
While some progress has been made in closing the digital divide, UNDP says that 2.9 billion people – mostly in developing countries, and mostly women, remain without access to the Internet. “We’re committed to a rights-based, whole-of-society approach to digital transformation that leaves no one behind. We want to make digital work for everyone, everywhere – this generation, and future ones,” added Robert Opp.
The strategy outlines how UNDP will assist countries in reaping the benefits of digital technology with a three-pronged approach – experimenting and scaling up to amplify outcomes; supporting societies create more inclusive resilient digital ecosystems; and, transforming itself to “future proof the organisation.”
UNDP also plans to engage with global and local businesses and entrepreneurs, academics, researchers, young people, and policymakers to foster collaboration around the responsible and sustainable use of technology. This necessary conversation will feed into the work of the UNDP accelerator labs network as it surfaces and scales up local development solutions – many of which are digital.
Anchored in the UN roadmap for digital cooperation and the framework presented in the Our Common Agenda report, the strategy complements the UN’s global efforts to expand access to affordable broadband and enhance the digital capacity of key groups including women and people with disabilities – ultimately creating new opportunities like jobs while boosting human development.