IGF 2023 Open Forum #60 Empowering Civil Servants for Digital Transformation

Monday, 9th October, 2023 (23:30 UTC) - Tuesday, 10th October, 2023 (01:00 UTC)
WS 6 – Room E

Panel - 90 Min


Digital transformation can give governments the best chance of making sustainable, effective, innovative policies that fulfil the UN's SDGs. With the right digital competencies, policymakers and regulators are empowered to digitally transform their institutions with policies that take advantage of the opportunities offered by new technologies, while navigating the many risks and challenges they can bring.  

In 2021, UNESCO noted a high demand to boost government officials' digital skills, revealed in the African Artificial Intelligence Needs Assessment survey. In response, UNESCO, in its role as the co-leader of the Broadband Commission's AI Capacity Building Working Group, embarked on the creation of a framework entitled "Artificial Intelligence and Digital Transformation: Competencies for Civil Servants." This framework is designed to assist policymakers, regulators, and digital leaders in advancing national initiatives focused on enhancing digital capabilities. 

As a consequential step, on the 15th of March 2023, UNESCO inaugurated the "Dynamic Coalition for Digital Capacity Building" during the World Summit on the Information Society Forum 2023.  

This coalition's primary mission is to bolster countries in their digital transformation journeys by facilitating exchanges among a global network of digital leaders. 

This objective of the IGF UNESCO Open Forum is threefold: 

  1. To convene this network of digital leaders, comprising a diverse community of experts and stakeholders deeply engaged in dialogues centred on capacity building initiatives and best practices for digital transformation among civil servants;  

  1. To interactively discuss and examine the challenges, requirements and solutions in terms of digital capacity building as articulated by the stakeholders;  

  1. To develop and reinforce the scope, membership and roadmap of the Dynamic Coalition which seeks to serve as a catalyst for global discussions and the dissemination of best practices in digital transformation and capacity building for civil servants, underpinned by tangible real-world examples. 

The speakers around the table at this Open Forum represent a diverse group of global stakeholders, including governments, civil society, intergovernmental organizations, academia, the private and tech sectors, civil servants, media, and beyond. They have been invited to engage in a moderated and interactive discussion focusing on digital capacity building for civil servants.  As UNESCO adheres to a multi-stakeholder approach, we are dedicated to ensuring that the session remains interactive and accessible to all. Anyone joining the session, either online or onsite, can speak up and share their insights on this very important topic. 

Expected Outcome *  

The session aims to create a network of digital leaders and initiate the UNESCO Dynamic Coalition on digital capacity building (DC) with potential partners to foster collaboration, share best practices, and catalyze progress in the realm of digital capacity building.  

Flow of the Session

Part 1: UNESCO Competency Framework Presentation (30 minutes) 

After an in-depth presentation of the AI and Digital Transformation Competency Framework for Civil Servants, the audience is introduced to the Dynamic Coalition initiative which was launched at the WSIS Forum 2023 (scope and objectives)  

  • Questions part 1 for speakers at the roundtable: Considering the UNESCO Competency Framework, what specific digital skills and competencies do you believe are most critical for civil servants to possess to thrive in today's rapidly evolving digital landscape? Why a Dynamic Coalition on digital capacity building? 

Part 2: Understanding the challenges and needs (30 minutes) 

Following the presentation, we transition to an interactive discussion among stakeholders, including governments, civil servants, and organizations, to understand the key needs and lessons learnt with respect to capacity building programmes from the digital transformation landscape of public administrations.

  • Questions part 2 for speakers at the roundtable: Could you share a specific challenge and lessons your organization has encountered when it comes to digital transformation within the public sector? How do you envision addressing this challenge?  What are the most urgent issues you believe need to be addressed? 

Part 3: Roadmap for the Dynamic Coalition (30 minutes)

Finally, we delve deeper into the Dynamic Coalition (DC) on digital Capacity Building by discussing its scope and introduce the proposed draft Roadmap for participants’ input. The DC is a collaborative space aimed at uniting diverse voices and expertise to advance digital capacity building in public administrations. Your active participation and contributions are pivotal as we embark on this collective journey.

(The DC Roadmap is presented) 

  • Questions part 3 for speakers at the roundtable: How would the Dynamic Coalition be most valuable to you? What could be some of the areas that the Dynamic Coalition should focus on in its first two years? What kinds of activities or initiatives do you believe our coalition should prioritize to effectively support digital transformation efforts within public administrations? What is your take on the presented roadmap? Are we missing critical points? 

Annex 1: 

Outputs and Activities DC  

The Dynamic Coalition (DC) is geared towards fostering a range of outputs and activities aimed at enriching the digital capacity building landscape. Based on the AI and Digital Transformation Competency Framework (2022), and in line with relevant WSIS Action Lines, the Dynamic Coalition will:  

  1. Facilitate sharing of good practices on digital transformation with concrete use cases. This will help governments to learn from each-others’ experience.   

  1. Provide a network to support the implementation of UNESCO’s methodology (under development) for assessment of digital capacities in governments and then to support relevant capacity development projects (organisation of trainings, seminars, publications …) 

Among the DC initiatives, you can expect: 

  1. A monthly Knowledge Blog Series where the DC members share their unique approaches and best practices in the realm of digital capacity building. These blogs serve as a repository of shared experiences, best practices, and innovative approaches. This can become a vital avenue for organizations, countries, and all stakeholders to learn from one another.  

  1. Provide a network of digital leaders to support the implementation of the methodology for assessment of digital capacities in governments and then to support relevant capacity development projects (organisation of conferences, forums, webinars, trainings, seminars, publications etc. …) 

  1. Collaboratively develop content for digital capacity building in government on selected themes through Working Groups of the Dynamic Coalition.  



Charline d’Oultremont, UNESCO Consultant Digital Capacity Building, Prateek Sibal, UNESCO Programme specialist Digital Innovation and Transformation, Nadine Dammaschk, GIZ, Advisor for Artificial Intelligence and digital public goods, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH Gaurav Sharma, Advisor on AI, FAIR Forward: AI for All”, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH


Alexander Barbosa, Cetic.br, Head of the Center of Studies for Information and Communications Technologies/Gianluca Misuraca, AI4Gov, Executive Director of the Master on Artificial Intelligence in public services and founder and Vice President on Technology Diplomacy and International Relations of Inspiring Futures (IF)/ Alain Ndayishimiye, C4IR Rwanda, Project Lead AI/ML/ Miriam Stankovich, DAI, Principal Digital Policy Specialist, Center for Digital Acceleration / Joanne Dcunha, Centre for Communication Governance at NLU Delhi, Programme Officer with the Technology and Society team/ Jonathan Gonzalez, Access Partnerships, Senior Policy Manager, Global Government Advisory/  Prof. Dr. Zhu Liming, Director Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Australia Government Agency/ Daniel O'Maley, Senior Digital Governance Specialist, Center for International Media Assistance / and many others to be confirmed 

Onsite Moderator

Prateek Sibal, Programme specialist Digital Innovation and Transformation, UNESCO

Online Moderator

Gaurav Sharma, Advisor on AI, FAIR Forward: AI for All”, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH


Charline d'Oultremont


4. Quality Education
5. Gender Equality
9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
17. Partnerships for the Goals

Targets: First, it aligns with SDG 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure. The Open Forum focuses on empowering civil servants with digital transformation-related competencies, enabling them to leverage digital tools and create data-supported insights. By enhancing their digital skills, governments can build robust digital infrastructures and foster innovation within public administrations, contributing to the advancement of SDG 9. Secondly, the session is relevant to SDG 5: Gender Equality. It explores how digital capacity-building programs can strengthen gender equality in public administrations. By ensuring equal access to digital skills and creating an enabling environment for gender-transformative digital policies, the workshop aims to promote gender equality and inclusivity within government institutions. Furthermore, the session contributes to SDG 4: Quality Education. By upskilling civil servants with digital competencies, the session supports the provision of quality education and training opportunities. By empowering civil servants with the necessary skills for digital transformation, governments can enhance their capacity to provide better services to citizens and foster an inclusive learning environment. The panel also contributes to SDG 16 by equipping public administrations with the necessary skills and tools for digital transformation, governments can enhance the efficiency, transparency, and accountability of their institutions. This, in turn, promotes good governance, strengthens the rule of law, and fosters inclusive and participatory decision-making processes, all of which are integral to achieving SDG 16. Lastly, the session also supports SDG 17 by strengthening the Dynamic Coalition for Digital Capacity Building. It promotes collaboration, knowledge sharing, and partnerships to implement digital capacity-building programs for governments. The outputs contribute to UNESCO's initiatives for international cooperation and achieving the SDGs.