IGF 2023 Open Forum #65 Effective Governance for Open Digital Ecosystems

Tuesday, 10th October, 2023 (00:45 UTC) - Tuesday, 10th October, 2023 (01:45 UTC)
WS 8 – Room C-1

Harmonising Global Digital Infrastructure

Panel - 60 Min


 The Universal DPI Safeguards Initiative: How do we mitigate the risks of DPI?



DPI can accelerate sustainable development by enabling new services, supporting underserved communities including women and responsible use of data for public and private innovation. Unlike other digital technologies or solutions, DPI is meant to be deployed at population scale. This amplifies the impact of risks such as data privacy issues, surveillance, and exclusion. People must be protected and empowered through DPI and countries are making directional decisions affecting people now. While numerous governments and development cooperation partners globally have embarked on the journey of building DPI, many of them based on digital public goods, a universal framework ensuring that DPI remains inclusive, safe, and sustainable is absent.

Without such safeguards, DPI presents significant challenges, including potential misuse of data by governments, exposure to cybersecurity risks, exclusion of marginalized groups, and possible vendor lock-in. Left unaddressed, these could undermine citizen trust, limit economic benefits, and threaten human rights.

Recognizing this gap, in his Policy Brief on the Global Digital Compact, the UN Secretary-General wrote: “The task before us now is to create common frameworks and standards for digital public infrastructure and services”. The UN Secretary-General called for collaboration “with diverse stakeholders to craft a framework of design principles rooted in best practices, and to define the parameters for a safe, inclusive, and sustainable digital public infrastructure.” Answering this call, UNDP and the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology are launched the Universal DPI Safeguards Initiative at UNGA 78 to ensure that DPIs are well-governed, and consequently, they promote inclusion, human rights, safety of users, security of data, and sustainability.


The open forum session aims to deepen understanding and awareness of the need for a globally recognized DPI Safeguards Framework, emphasizing its role in sustainable development while ensuring aspects like data privacy and security. By gathering insights from experts and country representatives, the session will document best practices and identify key risks. Feedback from the session will refine the ongoing development of the DPI Safeguards Framework.

The 60-Minute open forum will take the form of a panel discussion, featuring experts and country representatives from various geographies. Panelists will share their experiences and perspectives, engaging in a dialogue with the audience to exchange ideas and solutions.

Policy Questions

  1. To what extent can a globally recognized DPI Safeguards Framework contribute to the ethical practice among DPI practitioners?
  2. In what ways can we establish a balanced approach to ensure that DPI is utilized to expedite progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), while averting its potential instrumentalization for mass surveillance?
  3. Which good examples and lessons learned from country implementation exist, where we can build upon?
  4. Which role can Digital Public Goods play in the safe and inclusive implementation of DPI and how do they enable democratic oversight and governance?
  5. What considerations and stakeholders' engagements should be integrated into the process of developing a comprehensive DPI Safeguards Framework?

Expected Outcomes

  1. Provide informed guidance to the UNDP and the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology regarding the structured development of the DPI Safeguards Framework, ensuring a comprehensive and collaborative approach.
  2. Elevate awareness surrounding the Universal DPI Safeguards Initiative, effectively engaging and mobilizing partners towards a shared vision of digital public infrastructure safeguarding.
  3. Foster a conducive environment to generate momentum towards the establishment of the Universal Safeguards Framework.

Amandeep Singh Gill, UN Secretary-General's Envoy on Technology

Moritz Carl Fromageot, Office of the Secretary-General's Envoy on Technology

Lea Gimpel, DPGA 

Jon Lloyd, DPGA



• Amandeep Singh, UN Tech Envoy, Intergovernmental Organization Group

• Robert Opp, Chief Digital Officer, UNDP (tbc.)

• Cina Lawson, ICT Minister Togo, African Group (tbc.)

• Henri Verdier, French Ambassador for Digital Affairs


Onsite Moderator

Lea Gimpel, DPGA

Online Moderator

Moritz Fromageot, OSET


Lea Gimpel, DPGA , Jon Lloyd, DPGA, Moritz Fromageot, OSET


1. No Poverty
2. Zero Hunger
3. Good Health and Well-Being
4. Quality Education
5. Gender Equality
8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
10. Reduced Inequalities
16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
17. Partnerships for the Goals

Targets: Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) plays an instrumental role in enabling and accelerating the achievement of nearly all Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). DPI, consisting of digital services and systems that are open and accessible to all, forms the backbone for a connected, inclusive, and sustainable digital society. It fosters quality education (SDG 4) through digital learning platforms, supports decent work and economic growth (SDG 8) by enabling digital economies, and promotes reduced inequalities (SDG 10) by providing equitable access to digital resources. DPI's role in promoting sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11) is evident through intelligent urban planning and digital governance. It can facilitate responsible consumption and production (SDG 12) by promoting transparency and traceability in supply chains. DPI can also bolster partnerships for the goals (SDG 17) by enhancing international cooperation, data sharing, and innovation in digital technology. Thus, DPI is not just a contributor but a catalyst for the achievement of the SDGs, underscoring the urgency for its development and widespread adoption.

Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)

Nations are at a crossroads, making directional decisions. To mitigate the risks of DPI, protective measures must be designed before digital systems take shape. As countries develop their DPI, the urgency to incorporate DPI safeguards intensifies. If left unchecked, the lack of proper safeguards can result in unprecedented vulnerabilities.

Regardless of nomenclature, prioritizing empowerment and safety for individuals should always be at the heart of digital systems. Ensuring a user-centric approach in the digital realm not only fosters trust but also enhances the overall user experience. When systems prioritize individual rights and well-being, they create an environment where innovation and freedom can thrive without compromising security.

Call to Action (* deadline 2 hours after session)

There is the need for a global effort to create a universally agreed framework for DPI safeguards.

Such an initiative must be meaningfully inclusive and be tailored to the needs of all stakeholders.