The G20 Digital Ministers are meeting in Trieste on 5 August. How to ensure a smooth digital transformation? How to reap the economic and social benefits of digitalisation by leaving no one behind?
Fostering connectivity and digital inclusion; promoting consumers’ awareness and protection in global value chains; creating a trustworthy Artificial Intelligence ecosystem; enhancing the digital transformation in production processes to achieve sustainable growth. These are the key topics featuring in the agenda of the G20 at the Digital Economy Ministers’ Meeting in Trieste on the 5th August.
3.7 billion people do not have access to the Internet. One-third of the world's schoolchildren – 463 million – were unable to access remote learning last year. Less than 30% of the world's researchers are women.
Given these figures and acknowledging the profound transformation digital technologies are generating in the economy and society, the Italian Presidency decided to place digitalisation at the core of G20 discussions. In this context, it presented a “G20 Menu of Policy Options” on productivity-enhancing digital transformation. Furthermore, with the “G20 Multistakeholder Forum on Consumers Awareness, Protection and Blockchain for Traceability in the Digital Economy”, the Italian G20 highlighted the risks and challenges that might arise for consumers from the growing use of online transactions. Finally, during the virtual event on “connectivity and social inclusion”, the focus was put on promoting participation in education and training for all to bridge digital gender gaps and challenge stereotypes.
The diversity of existing regulatory approaches and technologies within the G20 means that many questions are yet to be answered: how to make digitalisation an opportunity for all? What is the potential of the digital transformation to leverage a resilient, sustainable and inclusive recovery?
The Ministers’ work will be divided into two main policy streams: “Digital Economy” and “Digital Government”. In the latter area, the discussion will primarily focus around digital identity as a tool to provide citizens with secure access to digital services. In addition, the Italian Presidency will encourage information sharing among Members on how governments can make the most of digital technologies to better serve the economy and society.
On these and other pressing global issues related to digitalisation, the T20 — and particularly the Task Force on Digital Transformation coordinated by ISPI — has collected its policy recommendations in a statement submitted to the G20 Digital Economy and Innovation Ministers.
The G20 Has a Crucial Role in Making Digitalisation an Opportunity for All
Covid-19 has contributed to accelerating the digital transition and has multiplied its influence on our lives and societies. However, the benefits brought about by these changes are jeopardised by their own rapidity and by their corresponding inequalities. As estimated by the World Economic Forum, 3.7 billion people do not have access to the Internet. Due to this growing digital divide, at least one-third of the world’s schoolchildren were unable to access remote learning last year. The T20 and the B20 (Business 20) submitted a joint statement on digital transformation to the G20 Digital Ministers.
"Digital transformation is taking place at an unprecedented pace, but the governance of the underlying technologies lags substantially. This has been evident during the pandemic, which has showcased both the promise and the perils of digital technologies. On the one hand, these technologies have helped to deliver essential services and much-needed social contact; on the other, they have showcased inequitable access and rising risks and harms. Now is the time for the G20 to act with resolve to put at the centre of digital transformation inclusive governance frameworks for the development and uses of digital technologies. G20 Leaders could take the bold action to update the Bretton Woods with the creation of a new institution -- a Digital Stability Board -- to produce global public goals for data-driven technologies, developing standards, regulations and policies, sharing best practices, and monitoring risks in a multistakeholder, inclusive and coherent manner. The G20 has experience in mandating a new organization and setting its priorities. The G20 has a goal to build digital trust. The G20 can now create a new institution to build this trust." Robert Fay, Managing director of digital economy – CIGI
Robert Fay, Managing director of digital economy – CIGI
"The G20 Ministers should acknowledge that traditional competition tools do not achieve what they should, i. e. protect the competitive process and promote consumer welfare.They should declare that current competition legal and institutional framework should be modernized to remedy the challenges in the digital economy like: asymmetric market power, tipping of markets or killing acquisitions. G20 Ministers should underline that effective enforcement must keep pace with dynamics on digital markets and act before harms happen. The new instruments should not threaten the legal certainty, but at the same time offer greater flexibility in dealing with abusive behavior by incumbent players. Finally, Ministers should encourage the development of data trusts as an alternative model to the large platforms and promising concept for enabling data use and more competition while maintaining data privacy."
Pencho Kuzev, Senior policy advisor on data policy – KAS