Melinda Gates

SETTING GOALS: Melinda Gates, centre, co-chair of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Jack Ma, left, executive chairman of Alibaba Group, and the UN Secretary-General António Guterres discuss how digital cooperation and technology can contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. —Photo: UN

THE digital future must be safer and more inclusive, says a new tech report, “The Age of Digital Interdependence,” released on June 10 by the United Nations high-level panel on digital cooperation, almost a year after the panel was launched by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

The launch of the report was marked with a live Webchat, featuring Guterres, Jack Ma, executive chairman of the Chinese conglomerate Alibaba Group, and Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The launch included a “declaration of digital interdependence” on the part of the study’s authors, which describes humanity as being “in the foothills” of the digital age. It also lays out the risks faced by mankind, such as exploitative behaviour by private companies, a failure to realise human potential, and the stifling of necessary regulation.

The declaration outlines the panel’s belief that cooperation in the digital space is paramount, as individuals, institutions, corporations and governments cannot manage digital developments alone, and that global aspirations and vulnerabilities are “deeply interconnected and interdependent.”

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The report explores the ways that digital technology can help achieve the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; how digital tech relates to human rights and security; and models for digital cooperation between different parts of society. Several recommendations are contained within the report, based on the three main areas.

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