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Digital with Purpose: Accelerating action and transformative pathways for delivering on the sustainable development goals and recovery from COVID-19 Pandemic
Wednesday, 8 July 2020
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Virtual (New York time)
Link to website

Side Event


There is growing evidence that access to digital technology and services and the ability to use them is directly related to improving the delivery of healthcare, education quality, reducing hunger, poverty and addressing other major global challenges such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. The use of digital technologies reduce information and transaction costs and improve service delivery, create new jobs, generate new revenue streams, and help conserve resources among many other examples that can be given.

During the COVID-19 global crisis, digital technologies, ICTs, and connectivity have become a critical enabler facilitating continuity of our regular lives, economic activity and connecting people more than ever before. The high levels of uncertainty that underpins the crisis has created an impetus for innovation, and the necessity to tap into broad networks for knowledge, ideas and solutions. Since the initial days of the outbreak, governments, private sector, academia, think tanks and innovators have responded with a progressive approach by incorporating existing and developing new digital solutions and ICT services to tackle the spread and impact of the pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further deepened the need for other development cooperation approaches, in particular for developing countries, such as South-South and triangular cooperation as means to respond to the global crisis. Tackling this crisis requires unprecedented international and digital cooperation to address various critical questions, such as bridging the digital divide, required capacity building, as well as online safety, security and data protection among other. South-South and triangular cooperation can serve as an important role in forging partnerships and tapping into the knowledge, expertise, technology and resources available in developing countries that can help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and recovery from it.

Among the Decade of Action to deliver the Global Goals, the United Nations Secretary-General's third area of attention calls on ensuring that new technologies narrow the digital and broader technological divide and are geared towards the common good.

To maximize the digital revolution’s impact on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in our collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we must commit today, more than ever, to invest in a meaningful digital transformation. The international community, including national governments, civil society, the private sector and other stakeholders must come together and strengthen global partnerships to support efforts in fighting the pandemic in order to achieve the ambitious targets of the 2030 Agenda.


The session will make the case for accelerating action for an inclusive digital transformation as a pathway to deliver on the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, the SDGs and response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The adoption of meaningful digital technologies and solutions, ICT infrastructure and leveraging South-South and triangular cooperation will be key to address the existing digital divides in developing countries.

The event will include:

• Presentation of the Digital with Purpose report findings and movement; • Recommendations on strengthening the capacities for developing countries through south-south and triangular cooperation to improve, absorb and adapt technology and skills to meet their specific developmental needs; • Showcase good practices from the Global South on integrating digital technologies, telecommunication/ICT innovation and digitalization in national development agendas, including ICT innovations on COVID-19 responses; • Call-to-action to strengthen partnerships and the opportunity of leveraging and setting out a pathway to cross-sector collaboration that can deliver on this vision.


Session MC/Moderator Ms. Ursula Wynhoven, Head ITU Liaison Office to the United Nations

Opening and Welcoming Remarks:

H.E. Ms. Milica Pejanović Đurišić, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Montenegro to the United Nations, H.E. Ms. Rabab Fatima, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations, Mr. Malcolm Johnson, Deputy Secretary-General, International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Mr. Jorge Chediek, UNOSSC Director and Envoy of the Secretary-General on South-South Cooperation

Presentation on Digital with Purpose

Screening of video Digital with Purpose:

Mr. James Gowen, Chairman, Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), Vice President of Global Supply Chain and Chief Sustainability Officer, Verizon

Panel discussion with country representatives:

Mr. Ibrahima Guimba Saidou, Minister Special Advisor to the President of the Republic of Niger, Directeur Général / CEO Agence Nationale pour la Société de l'Information, Mr. Martin Olmos, Undersecretary of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Argentina

Q & A interaction with audience

Wrap up and Closing:

Ms. Xiaojun Grace Wang, Deputy Director of UNOSSC

ABOUT ITU: The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies (ICTs). ITU allocates global radio spectrum and satellite orbits, develops the technical standards that ensure networks and technologies seamlessly interconnect, and strive to improve access to ICTs to underserved communities worldwide. ITU is committed to connecting all the world's people – wherever they live and whatever their means.

ABOUT GESI: The Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) is a multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder organization made up of international members and partners committed to creating and promoting digital technologies and practices that foster economic, environmental and social sustainability.

ABOUT UNOSSC: The United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) is a knowledge hub providing advisory and consulting services to all stakeholders on South-South and triangular cooperation. It enables developing countries to effectively face their development challenges and harness opportunities to address them. UNOSSC engages with Member States globally and regionally, as well as within the UN system to facilitate practical expressions of Southern solidarity towards the achievement of internationally agreed development goals.
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