New York: Mohammad Abdullah Al Gergawi, UAE Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future, has been selected by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as one of 20 independent experts to advise him on his High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, launched at the UN Headquarters in New York on Thursday. The Panel will be co-chaired by Melinda Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Jack Ma, Executive Chairman of the Alibaba Group, and includes prominent leaders from government, private industry, civil society, academia and the technical community, acting in their personal capacity while representing a broad mix of disciplines, sectors, ages, geographies and areas of expertise to reflect the cross-boundary nature of the digital sphere. The purpose of the Panel is to advance proposals to strengthen international cooperation in the digital space, with the ultimate aim of realizing the transformational potential of digital technologies while safeguarding against risks and unintended consequences. The panel will contribute to the broader global dialogue on how interdisciplinary and cooperative approaches can help ensure a safe and inclusive digital future for all.
Rapidly advancing digital technologies hold unprecedented opportunities to accelerate sustainable development, advance well-being, and empower individuals around the world, yet there is a risk that the use of these technologies may deepen inequality, increase mistrust and undermine human rights. The scale of both the opportunities and the challenges requires new ways of cooperating across borders to ensure that digital technologies support sustainable development while mitigating potential dangers or unintended consequences.
"We stand at the very outset of vast changes, and are not yet able to predict the impact of the technological revolution. The issue we are dealing with is bigger than any particular aspect like cyber security, privacy, or economic changes. Digital technology will affect every aspect of human life. This will be a new era for humanity," said Minister Al Gergawi, stressing the need for the panel.
"The United Nations has unique legitimacy to convene this dialogue, based on the breadth of the organization's mandate across the spheres impacted by the digital technologies. I am honoured to bring the UAE perspective to the discussion. The UAE is in the business of change and embracing the future. We need to embrace technology and bring the right people together from across sectors and regions of the world in order to bring the country, the region and the world into the future. The cooperative approach that has been a strong part of our development model is needed at the global level." He stated on accepting the position on the panel.''
The UAE has been a strong advocate for effective, inclusive cooperation in the digital realm among all stakeholders. The UAE Centennial Plan 2071, the five-decade strategy for long-term prosperity, clearly stipulates the need for cooperation and harnessing the potential of digital technologies to equip present and future generations with the tools, knowledge and skills needed to thrive in an ever-evolving environment. This is essential to long-term economic diversification plans and the well-being of society. The country already has among the highest internet penetration rates and mobile phone usage rates in the world, and one of the most vibrant entrepreneurial scenes in the region. The need to balance potential with risks is also clearly understood, as the UAE is often a target of cyber attacks.
Internationally, the UAE places a large emphasis on development cooperation and leaving no one behind. The country, and particularly the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, is a platinum sponsor of the World Summit on the Information Society Forum (WSIS Forum in Geneva), which focuses on harnessing Information and Communications Technologies for Development all over the world, staying true to the vision of Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals. Technical support is also an increasing segment of the aid strategy and cooperation efforts led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. Furthermore, the UAE has led multidisciplinary and international discussions on cooperation in the digital realm with all 193 Member States of the UN in New York, as well as with the public, private, civic sectors and the World Economic Forum through the Global Futures Councils. The country strongly believes in the need to bring together all relevant stakeholders to tackle new challenges and opportunities brought on by the fourth industrial revolution.
"Our experience since co-facilitating the 10 year review of the World Summit on the Information Society in 2015 is that there is a strong need for multidisciplinary and international discussions on cooperation in the digital realm. As a highly networked and future-oriented country, the UAE strongly supports the SG's initiative and looks forward to the Panel's findings" said Ambassador Lana Nussaibah, Permanent Representative of the UAE to the UN in New York.
The Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation will work for a period of 9 months to identify good examples and propose modalities for working cooperatively across sectors, disciplines and borders to address challenges in the digital age. The three metrics for success of the panel will be a high quality report, an engaging and inclusive consultation process, and an enhanced capacity of all stakeholders to deal with the digital transformation.