Digital with Purpose: Accelerating Action & Transformative Pathways for Delivering on the SDGs and Recovering from COVID-19 Pandemic

July 6, 2020

08 July 2020 – The United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), in collaboration with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) organized a webinar as a side event at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. More information about the event can be found here.


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.

Click the video to watch the recording of the webinar

  • Click here to access the webinar recording on Bilibili.
  • Click here to download the summary of the discussion (PDF).

The use of digital technologies reduces information and transaction costs and improves service delivery, creates new jobs, generate new revenue streams, and helps conserve resources among many other examples that can be given.

During the COVID-19 global crisis, digital technologies, ICTs, and connectivity have become critical enablers, facilitating continuity of our regular lives, economic activity and connecting people more than ever before. The high level 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 others.  South-South and triangular cooperation can serve 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 accelerate the 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.

Event Objectives

The session made 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 included:

  • 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.


Moderator: Ms. Ursula Wynhoven, Head International Telecommunication Union (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
  • Presentations
    • Screening of video on 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 on country experiences 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 the audience
  • Wrap up and Closing
    • Ms. Xiaojun Grace Wang, Deputy Director of UNOSSC