Grasping the opportunities of digital technology: ideas for the future of digital cooperation

The digital transformation: new opportunities and challenges for the international community

The digital transformation: new opportunities and challenges for the international community, © Colourbox

04.09.2020 - Article

What form should international cooperation on digital issues take in order to be able to cope with future challenges? Germany and the United Arab Emirates have interviewed people and organisations from more than a hundred countries and compiled recommendations at the request of the UN.

The digital transformation is advancing and leaving no area of life and no region in the world unaffected. This brings with it much that is good for business and society, but also new challenges, ranging from disinformation campaigns to cyber attacks. This global transformation calls for global responses. A key priority for Germany is therefore to cooperate closely with international partners on digital issues. That is the only way to ensure that the opportunities presented by the digital transformation can be used effectively and its risks minimised.

Joint recommendations for cooperation

Germany and the United Arab Emirates were therefore charged by the United Nations with compiling ideas on the question of how digital cooperation could be improved. To this end they jointly interviewed organisations and interested individuals from more than 100 countries and have drafted initial recommendations on the basis of the responses.

Central proposals of the Options Paper for the Future of Global Digital Cooperation

At the heart of the proposals is the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), an annual discussion forum established by the United Nations on legal and political issues surrounding the internet and new technologies. This platform is to be further developed and reinforced:

  • Support for participants from the Global South: it is important that the IGF can bring together interested parties from government, business and society from all regions of the world. One proposal is therefore to provide financial support for participants from the Global South. The IGF could be made more attractive to parliamentarians and high-ranking government representatives by means of programme options tailored specifically to them.
  • Closer networking with other forums: the IGF could become a catalyst for discussion on cross-cutting digital issues and to this end engage more closely in dialogue with other international forums, particularly those with decision-making responsibilities.
  • Strengthening the IGF leadership: a group of high-level representatives of all interest groups and regions could be formed in order to give the IGF a face and provide it with input.
  • Secure funding: to achieve the above-mentioned goals, sustainable and adequate funding is necessary. This could include contributions from major digital enterprises as well as from states.

What happens next?

The Options Paper has been submitted to the United Nations. The Secretary-General of the United Nations will now appoint a special representative to be responsible for implementing the recommendations. Germany will continue to work for the improvement of global digital cooperation and will support the special representative.

Find out more:

Click here for the Options Paper for the Future of Global Digital Cooperation and more information on the consultations with interest group representatives.

Germany and the United Arab Emirates were charged with the task of compiling ideas for the future of digital cooperation on the basis of an initiative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Its central content is summed up in the Secretary-General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation.


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