IGF 2022 Day 2 Open Forum #68 Our Action Plan for a Sustainable Planet in the Digital Age

The following are the outputs of the captioning taken during an IGF intervention. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.



>> REINA OTSUKA:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Also, good morning, good afternoon, good evening to everybody online.  Welcome to the session together for sustainable planet we are here with online panelists and we expect the UN tech envoy to join us.  So, thank you for being here and for your patience.  With that said, I'll pass the mic to Shivam joining us online.  Over to you.

   >> SHIVAM KISHORE:  Warm welcome to everybody present in the room and all joining online.  My name is Shivam and senior digital transformation advisor for the United Nations environment program and I'm sort of co‑moderator or co‑host for the session and honor and privileged to welcome you all.  We live in increasingly digital world, digital technologies change the world in the way we interact, trans act and operate as a society.  Recently I had an inspiring encounter with a young man in a small remote village in Egypt who learned to speak five languages using language‑learning applications and was completing an online certificate in data science offered by an American University.  I think this probably showcased one of the most positive aspects of this digital transformation around I share that this contributing for rapid advancement in access to public service, provision of social protection, and preventing new socioeconomic opportunities for millions of people across the world.

However, my enthusiasm was dampened as I was reminded the same technologies creating a lot of good have also opened the door to new forms of government surveillance, exes a baited pre‑existing inequalities and uncovered misinformation and environmental harms by increasing amount of e‑waste that is not being recycled.

This paradox, leads us to a very critical question that is how do we ensure digital technologies are being used as a force for good to benefit the people and the planet versus harms that we see.

How do we bring together multiple stakeholders from governments to private sectors to academia, Civil Society, indigenous communities, collectively to repurpose the role of digital transformation to enable data sustainable outcomes.  CODES, Coalition for Digital Environmental Sustainability perhaps presents the answers for this very important questions of our time.  And it is my deep pleasure to welcome Dirk Messner to share the very exciting initiative that CODES is, progress, and what is it enabling to achieve sustainable outcomes using digital transformation.  Dirk, if you can please come on the monitor quick and introduce yourself and over to you for the presentation.  Thank you.

   >> DIRK MESSNER:  Perfect.  Thank you very much, Shivam for your introduction and first reflections.  My name is Dirk Messner head of the President of German Environment Agency and German Environment Agency is part of the CODES network which I'm going to talk about, and I brought some slides which we are going to present in a second.  Shivam, I think you are monitoring that part.  Right.

   >> SHIVAM KISHORE:  I'm just sharing the screen.  Give me two seconds here.

   >> DIRK MESSNER:  No problem at all.  Perfect.  I think it's coming now.  Yeah.  It's visible for the others also, I think so, right?  Very good.

   >> MODERATOR:  I can see it here.

   >> SHIVAM KISHORE:  Let me know when you want me to move next.

   >> DIRK MESSNER:  I will give you a signal.  You can directly move to the next slide.  So, I wanted to introduce a bit of the work CODES is doing and the way CODES and our co‑champions and partners are looking at what Shivam already talked about, this twin transformation between digitalization on the one hand side and sustainability transformations on the other hand side.  So, the starting point for us at CODES is that we observed that there are two fundamental global drivers of change, which might drive the main trends in the global economy in the way that we produce, consume, and live during the next decades to come, and this is on the one hand side, this is sustainability transformation, this is about creation in the context of the planetary boundaries.  And then we have the digital transformation, and this is about artificial intelligence, machine learning, digital twins, database decision‑make progresses, and Shivam said, this is also a fundamental driver of change.  If we imagine the two drivers of change coming together chaotically, we can imagine two different pathways, right.  The first pathway is here on the left‑hand side, a green future, no.  So, this is the world's creation within the planetary boundaries supported by digitalization.  This is the positive pathway, no.  But we also can imagine it easily, Shivam, this is your paradox, no.  You can also imagine easily that digitalization might even shape and trigger and leverage and accelerate unsustainable growth, no.  So, the question is how to drive the two transformation processes towards the positive, the first one in which we have here on the slide, the pathway, and there is no easy answer.  This is what we're interested in, no.

The second slide, you have again the paradox which Shivam already mentioned, and you go to the next slide, Shivam.  Yep.  And you can see here on the left‑hand side the SDGs, so this is our sustainability goal system, which we all are working towards.  But interestingly when this has been created, the digital dimension has been forgotten, so this implies that the sustainability community, the environmental community, we haven't taken into account how important the digital transformation is also for sustainability goals.  On the right‑hand side you see the roadmap for digital cooperation where we would argue from CODES, no, that the sustainability transformation is not integrated systematically into the kind of syncing which is presented here.  So, what we are interested in as CODES is, A, and first, learning to align the two transformations.  And then secondly, the question of finding an answer of how we could govern digitalization to leverage digitalization and innovations towards sustainability, no.

Our third element which we are interested in is developing pathways to make this happen, and our fourth element is that we try to build a community, a global one, a connected one with people from the sustainability and the digital sphere to make all of this happen.  This is what CODES in the essence is all about.

On the next slide, Shivam, can you see on the left‑hand side the core champions.  This is the core team.  UNDP, Future Earth, the Republic of Kenya, Ministry for Environment, International Science Council, future earth with program and sustainability and German Environment Agency which I'm the President of.  So, we are the co‑champions organizing the whole process and bringing a lot of people together as I'm also showing in a second.  We are cooperating very intensively with the tech envoy who will be part of our panel discussion in a few minutes from now.

So, this is who we are.  On the next slide, can you see on the left‑hand side an action plan for a sustainable planet in the digital age, and this is our core product and first important milestone which we have produced as CODES during the last months to exactly discuss, Shivam, your paradox, how we can look at the paradox and what can we do about it, how can we drive collective action toward a sustainable digital age?  We have been mandated by the United Nations secretary‑General and tried to develop a core narrative into this direction and bring this from different political fora and therefore this event today is also very important for us.

On the next slide, I would like to emphasize that on our journey to develop this action plan, we organized a co‑creative process with many actors from around the globe to make this action plan happen, so this is not a product of the 6 or 7 co‑champions that I talked about.  This is an action plan which has been developed in interaction with 1,000 stakeholders from over 100 countries which we contacted and worked with during the last 12 months to produce this action plan.  We launched the action plan for the first time in June 2022, and we presented it at UNEA2022 at Stockholm + 50 several weeks ago and other international fora.  Co‑creative process, 1,000 stakeholders involved, we're trying to create this community where digital and sustainability thinking is integrated systematically.

On the next slide some reflections about content and maybe about the paradox which Shivam mentioned.  What we are taking from the global literature on sustainability and digitalization is that most reports are arguing that digitalization could be an enable for sustainability, circularity of economy, decarbonization, energy efficiency, all of this probably being organized and governed easily with these kind of innovations from the digital sphere than without those.  But on the other hand side, we also see most of the studies and we agree on that, that this is no automatic toward a digital sustainable plan.  Automatic implies digitalization also has pitfalls and risks and Shivam you mentioned several beforehand, therefore there is a governance challenge and we need to drive digitalization toward sustainability.

On this slide you see some of the ways which we see enabling dynamics, no, so digitalization in making supply chain transparent, and this is about circular economy, and automated sustainability decision‑making based on data, optimizing this towards sustainability goals, no.  Enabling access of consumers to sustainability information, so you can see that we have an optimistic take on the opportunities of digitalization for sustainability, but we also need to understand the risks of digitalization for sustainability.

On the next slide, you can see our metaphor to understand the transformation process between digitalization and sustainability for the next decades to go, and we argue that we need to learn first to align digitalization with sustainability development, so bringing these two paradigms together in one narrative, no.  The second element is then in the second shift that we have to understand the negative impacts, the pitfalls, risks, and we have to mitigate this, no.  You all know that many of the digital infrastructure and tools are resource and energy efficient, so mitigating this, and greening IT is one of the elements in shift number 2.  And shift number 3 is learning to accelerate digital innovations for sustainability goals.  This is our perspective on the 3 shifts which is we need to have in mind and work on all of these 3.  Right.

On the next slide, can you then see that around our main shifts, alignment, mitigation of negative impacts, acceleration, innovation, accelerating innovation toward sustainability based on digital dynamics, we developed what we call 9 impact initiatives for implementation.  We found for all of these 3 shifts, main areas of work where we argue that this could be catalytic.  This could be global in night.  This needs to be a process in where we bring together multistakeholder initiatives to leverage these kind of initiatives and activities, and if we were to drive all of these initiatives, our hypothesis is that we would move step by step towards our paradigm of bringing together the digital transformation and sustainability transformation.

So 9 impact initiatives, and our idea is now together institutions, organizations, actors, and investors around these impact initiatives, which we are going to talk about in the panel more in detail.

On the next slide, we're mentioning some of the impact initiatives where we are already making progress.  I'm only mentioning those.  Shivam and others will talk about specific aspects here and so we are making progress in the education for digital sustainability, we are bringing actors together here in Canada, UNESCO is part of this, UNDP is working on this, and so something is emerging already.

We are working intensively at the environmental ‑‑ the German Environment Agency together with Internet stakeholders on digital infrastructure pledges, and this is about procurement, procurement standards because 20% of our global demand is public procurement, no, and a lot of IT investments are in here and how can we drive the systematically towards sustainability and this is something which we are already working with a number of international actors on.

Then digital sustainability innovation hubs, this will be taken up by Reina in a second and the others Shivam you will talk about this and all you have interested in parts of these initiatives, please let us know.

On the next slide, I'm only wanting to highlight that our philosophy is the twin transformation and very important element is that we try to support global United Nations‑related processes in this regard.  And our next most important milestones are 2023, our contributions and contributing to the Summit of the Future and bringing in system at ebbing approach of looking at sustainability from international perspective and other way around and 2024, UNEA‑6 is something which we would like to work with others and partners towards.

So, this is what we have been doing, this is our basic structure and basic philosophies, if you would be interested on the next slide, I'm asking you to join the community which we are building.  I'm asking you to lead one of these initiatives, if you would be interested in doing so, maybe together with other partners and to advocate for CODES because we would like to consolidate the growing community and to develop it further with new actors being interested in what we are trying it drive forward.

On my last slide which I wanted to show you then and I'm handing over to the next panelist in a second is that, you also might be interested to help us to get our stakeholder mapping of actors who are working exactly in the field of bringing digitalization and sustainability together further, and here is a very good news.  When we started to work on that, two years ago, there were relatively fewer actors and organizations really focusing on the twin transformation of digitalization and sustainability, and now we have in our mapping exercise here found that already up to 300 organizations are moving in this direction and the number is growing.  So, help us to understand who else is working in this field and to organize our community.  This is what we are aiming at.  And we release and I would like to hand it over already to Reina who is sitting physically in the event, so Reina, please, the floor is yours.

   >> REINA OTSUKA:  Thank you so much, Dirk and Shivam for the introductory presentations.  From here I'll take over the moderation and shift the focus into the room.  I'll quickly introduce myself as I forgot to do in the beginning.  I'm the digital innovation lead for the energy portfolio at the United Nations.  UNDP is also one of the co‑champions that Dirk just kindly presented.

So, we will also have Mr. Amandeep Gill with us in a few minutes and is a bit delayed because of a previous panel he was on, but he should be here in 10 or 15 minutes.  I would love to invite everybody to start to think about how you can contribute to CODES, as well as today's discussion because after this, we will present the three initiatives that Dirk just kindly mapped out, and invite all of you to please contribute your thoughts and ideas, including any actual contribution or partnership that we can start to think about during today's discussion.

So, it will be a roundtable to please do be aware that you had be suddenly called on to discuss.  So, we will start, I guess from impact initiative number 7.  If Shivam, if you could share the slide again.

Yes, I see you nodding.  So, the sharing slide is taking a bit of time but maybe I'll start since I'm here, and so ‑‑ thank you.  I see it.  Impact number 7, if you remember, there are 3 shifts that we are proposing as a framework, and the third shift is about how do we leverage on digital technologies so that we can advance our work or advance a lot of the environmental issues happening in the world.

And number 7 is about creating an innovation network on green digital innovation for Africa region, and what we've been doing is we've been exchanging a lot of informal ideation with a few network partners, and this is what has been coming out so far as the gaps that we see.  So, we first noticed that there is many strong digital UN groups going on, there is D4D, the digital hub, and I see Alex Rwanda there is a lot of ecosystems being established there, but we also kind of ‑‑ we notice that it's not the ‑‑ the focus is not only about climate or nature or pollution.  The focus could be many things from digital inclusivity to a variety of issues.  We do think it's important that we start to converge our efforts toward making sure it is addressing environmental sustainability along with many other important issues.  The second gap that we see is that the regional or global actors and national innovation actors are not always complementing each other, so there is always a lot of capacity and support gaps that perhaps by coordinating with each other it can be filled in a much better way.

The third gap that we see is that there is a mismatch between the regional innovation supply and the demand, so again there are all of these innovation hubs and support is trying to nurture a lot of different businesses, new innovation, but that is not always demand driven.  And also, there is a lack of effort and actually starting a market or trying to, how should I say, cross the chasm of risk‑free investment or grants to real commercial invetment.  We really want to bridge the gap in three ways.  Finally, we also feel that the green business offer requires a systemic or behavior change, and it's not just about selling new products to somebody.  It usually requires, for example, if you want to start on clean energy, you can't ‑‑ you can of course start a pilot project or can you just start a good site but that is usually not enough because the demand is not enough in rural areas.  And instead, you might have to approach it in a comprehensive way where you create a mini‑grid site but as provide agriculture services or other productive use of energy in order for the mini‑grid to actually be able to operate in a sustainable manner.  So, we want to make sure that we think about digital innovation not just about the technology and not one single business, but look at it as an ecosystem of different potential businesses.

So, based on this, Shivam next slide, please, this impact initiative we are trying to start to design together with everybody in this room is in four components right now and we would love to hear your views.  First is the align the regional capacity, national market‑driven innovation needs and private finance views so that we can set a common regional challenge or a set of common regional challenges on clean energy, waste management, food, and perhaps a few other very important issues.

The second component is to create a network of digital innovation support providers to coherently support innovation, so this means all the regional or global innovation initiatives and national hubs or local hubs, and how can we bring them all together and do some kind of capacity development or innovation support coherently through a sprint.  Tentatively we're saying one year, but it could be three years, could be two years, and we just want to make sure that we try to align everybody and have a concerted effort toward the innovation supply.

The third component is about match‑making, so UNDP this year actually tested a new way of supporting innovation or solutions, so we actually basically first did a call for proposal for the solution side, and then vet the all the solutions so that we have a very good list of potential digital technology solutions that can address climate change issues and nature and pollution issues.  And then on the other hand, we also called for proposals from the people who want to use this.  So, in our case we work with the governments and when the government wants to try out the technology, the funding gets provided to the government or the national counterpart instead of funding the business side.  So, by doing this, we match‑make the needs and the solutions and see how it actually plays out.

Finally, we do think that knowledge products and policy discussions are really important for this because, you know, when we start to demonstrate the technology and perhaps even a set of technologies in the national context, you start to notice that to actually unlock such innovation in a bigger scale, you need to also change the law or you need to change the regulation.  So, we do want to have a way to feed this back into the policy discussions happening in the country.  This is the current idea that we have.  We will focus most on this initiative, but again of course tope the other initiatives that we're going to present as well.  So, we'll come back to this item after this.

With that said, Shivam, now I pass it to you to introduce impact initiative number 8.

   >> SHIVAM KISHORE:  Thank you, Reina.  Very insightful.  I'm excited to actually kick off the discussion on initiative 7, but like you said we'll come back to it, and quickly sort of go through initiative number 8, if my slides allow.  Can you see my screen, Reina?

   >> REINA OTSUKA:  Yes, it's on 8 now.

   >> SHIVAM KISHORE:  Excellent.  Initiative 8 is really about sort of emphasizing the importance of creating and leveraging digital public goods.  Before I get into what that is the conversation, we've been having about the role digital technologies are playing in enabling the shifts across all sectors is bringing forward some really interesting questions on the role of large corporations when it comes to data governance and the governance of digital infrastructures where currently we've created an environment where very few corporations by and large have access to large amounts of digital infrastructure.  That is creating some monopolies in the marketplaces.

Additionally, we're also seeing a significant divide in the accessibility that different regions have to these digital infrastructures, regions that have a high level of economic privilege, generally have access to better digital infrastructures, which allow them then to leverage these digital infrastructures to promote better civil services for the citizens.  Conversely regions that are economically disadvantaged, generally tend to have lower access to digital infrastructures and thereby creating an environment where they're unable to provide in a similar way the level of civil services that is conducive for the well‑being of their citizens.

These two challenges are really starting to serve as a conversation on the importance of having digital infrastructures that are open, inclusive, and not governed by monopolized corporations.  This is where the importance of digital public goods comes into play.  This is what this impact initiative 8 is emphasizing.

Overall, it is really trying to mitigate the lack of inclusive digital infrastructure that we see collectively in the digital space today.  The vision for the impact initiative is to increase sustainability‑focused technology and knowledge comments.  Now, if you're look at the digital infrastructure, we're looking at the physical systems that are including data centers, including physical systems that are the basis for supporting digital infrastructures.  We're looking at platforms on which applications are built, this can include Cloud applications.  Finally, we're looking at the applications themselves the front‑facing software pieces that users interact the most.  We're trying to really scale the visibility and accessibility off the infrastructure end to end looking at the physical infrastructure the hardware, platforms, and applications as public goods, and this includes everything from data collection and analysis, building of models, aggregation, and we've made some good progress so far.

The global partnerships on AI, which is a very, very wonderful and very impactful undertaking, is starting to develop an international catalog for datasets that is relevant for supporting key sectors to transition to Net Zero and undertook a study to really understand what are the key barriers preventing the use of artificial intelligence in supporting climate action.  And that result highlighted some very interesting observations and one of them was the fact that there was a lack of availability of datasets that core leveraged by the algorithms and that's why they started the undertaking, and the results of which will be open as public goods which will be able so multiple organizations across the world could leverage open datasets to leverage algorithms to promote climate sustainability.

One good example is digital tool for sustainability learning pathway that is being sort of launched or that was launched actually by United Nations Environmental Program and glad to be part of it and United Nations System Staff College and it's basically a learning pathway that comprises of four modules that really dives deep into the intersection that Dirk succinctly spoke about digital transformation and sustainability, and gives the audience some basic and important tools to really start to leverage technologies to enable better nature and climate change within the regions.  The first learning module of this learning pathway, will be launching tomorrow which is very exciting, and again this is going to be an open digital public good, which means that it's open and free and easily leveraged by everyone in the society.  We'll be able to share the link with you all after if you're interested in enrolling and I highly encourage and highly recommend it.

Lastly, we're continuing to facilitate exchange with other stakeholders, and one of the most important ones being The Digital Public Goods Alliance which is really a really global sort of undertaking of multiple stakeholders coming together to publish digital public goods that are again, looking to advance or provide digital infrastructure that can be leveraged to advance sustainable.

This conversation is ongoing.  And I think like all things that intersect digital tech and sustainability, it's an ongoing conversation, so we are taking this to the surface and the opportunities are plenty, and like Dirk mentioned there are of course challenges that we have to be aware of.  One of the key ones being as public goods mature, and the importance of inclusive governance importance very important because one of the key challenges that public goods surface is after the initial granting or the funding is expired, who takes control of the public good, given the fact that it's open and inclusive, how can the lack of monopolized corporations owning something have that side.  We have to be caring of how we process the effort, but very clear mindset and very clear vision and we're hoping to catalyze the efforts to progress this.  I welcome a very live and active discussion on this after as well, and any questions and recommendations as well.  Again, it's a collective undertaking, and we really value all the feedback and support that we can get to advance that project Reina over to you.

   >> REINA OTSUKA:  I also share the passion for digital public goods and infrastructure.  We can never stop talking to each other.  I quickly pass the microphone to Dirk Messner again if you could quickly introduce number 5, impact initiative number 5 and then we'll try to come back to the room to have a discussion here.

   >> DIRK MESSNER:  Can you hear me?  I have a technical issue here.  Can you hear me now?

   >> REINA OTSUKA:  Yes, we can hear.

   >> DIRK MESSNER:  I will be brief because I say Amandeep is on the panel also.  We need some time to listen to him and have a discussion.  Briefly on the initiative number 5 which is on digital infrastructure pledges, the main idea here is that around the globe, public actors and governments are making large‑scale investments in this field currently.  And there is a point, a leverage point for us to bring the actors together to develop a joint understanding of sustain bl‑oriented digital infrastructures, talking about standards, talking about criteria, and against this background, we are bringing totes international actors to discuss these issues, the World Bank is one, and other member states of the European Union is others, and we also are bringing UNDP and UNEP to get perspective of developing countries into the whole debate, so this is the direction in which we are moving forward, and we can build in this case on the experience of my own agency, the German Environment Agency because in the German context, our agency is responsible for developing mechanisms, governance structures, and standards for greening the IT sector in the public procurement domain, no.  So, we can bring in this as an agency, we can bring in this kind of knowledge and procedural capacities into the process of building an initiative around public procurement for digital infrastructures.  Thank you very much so far.  I would like to hand it over again to Reina and I'm keen to listen to Amandeep now.  Thank you.

   >> REINA OTSUKA:  Thank you, Dirk.  We would love to first formally welcome Mr. Amandeep Gill, UN Tech Envoy as everybody knows.  Thank you so much for joining us.  We actually only have one microphone so we have to pass to each other (Laughing).  If we can start from a few questions to you, and then we will open up to the audience or the participants here so we can have a roundtable.  Thank you.

So, the first question is, as you're leading the global digital compact, I hope if you can share a little bit of your vision on what you see as CODES to play a role Global Digital Compact process, and if there are any barriers that you see that we can try to join forces to unlock, we would love to hear your views.

   >> AMANDEEP GILL:  Thank you very much for this invitation and thank you for the opportunity to share some thoughts.  The Global Digital Compact is a process that is a 360‑degree look at digital, and of course digital environmental sustainability has to be part of the 360‑degree look both on the challenge side, the increasing problem of e‑waste, the energy consumption, and the consumption of other resources by the digital industry.  And on the positive side, the ledger, the opportunity to turn the world away from linear extractive way.  Tomorrow of a circular economy, the opportunity to know more precisely where we are on different environmental indicators, and to tune policy in time so that we can achieve our environmental, biodiversity, and climate change goals.  That's the context in which the Global Digital Compact could be looking at this issue.

There is a process that has started in New York facilitated by Sweden, Rwanda, and we in the Tech Envoy Office will be supporting that process, and different topics will be picked up and focused on, so I'm sure that during the course of those discussions, CODES has one of the leading initiatives in this space and would have an opportunity to share the good work that it's doing and some suggestions in terms of high‑level policy responses by leaders and governments around the globe.

   >> REINA OTSUKA:  Thank you so much.  We're really thrilled to take part of in this discussion.  One of the gaps we saw in the previous digital cooperation roadmap was the environment, and as you know, CODES started from trying to fill this gap.  So, we are very, very happy that this time around, we're able to have environment from the very beginning.

   >> AMANDEEP GILL:  Absolutely.  So in a sense, if you go back to the High-Level Panel on digital Cooperation Report of June 2019, this aspect was mentioned in the context of the digital common-sense architecture, that there are some areas which need to be treated as common sense, and the need to be driven by dynamic coalitions, multistakeholder coalitions within which you can have relevant UN agencies participate, but they're not the only consequential actor.

So, when you take environment, it's of course UNEP, UNFCC and other colleagues across the UN system, health, WHO, UNICEF, UNAID, Global Fund, there are many such actors, but then they have to be supported by other participants.  So, it's good to see and encouraging to see that CODES is picking up that vision of the digital common-sense architecture and bringing it alive.  Likewise, there are act nurse the health domain there doing the same, so my office is encouraged by all of that and would be happy to facilitate wherever it can.

   >> REINA OTSUKA:  Thank you so much.  Dirk and Shivam, you're still online I know, so please do chip in if you have any comments or questions to Amandeep.

   >> DIRK MESSNER:  Amandeep, I would like to thank you for your encouragement, because for us it's very important to link our very concrete activities with the overall vision which you are developing.  Because as you have been seeing, we are trying now to go into the implementation phase.  We are trying to bring actors together to develop activities which make a difference in certain areas, in our 9 initiatives, no.  In having this under the umbrella of your overall thinking as UN Tech Envoy it's something which we perceive and recognize as very, very important.  Thank you very much for your engagement and for your support and the intersection between the UN system on the one hand side as you mentioned, and actors around the UN system supporting the vision of the sustainable digital pathway, this is something which we are really focusing on.

   >> REINA OTSUKA:  Thank you, Dirk.

   >> AMANDEEP GILL:  Yes.  Absolutely, so this aspect that was mentioned today by Shivam and you, the Digital Public Infrastructure on how to make sure that the infrastructures are designed well, including with sustainability in mind, just for the information of those listening in, we are embarking on some work on principles, design principles for safe and inclusive Digital Public Infrastructure, and I'll sure that will include reference to sustainability, and that's something that, you know, we can continue to collaborate on.

   >> REINA OTSUKA:  Wonderful.  Thank you so much.  Since we're starting to talk about more action‑oriented things, Amandeep, before you joined I presented the initiative which we would like to open up the discussion to everybody in the room now, and we are ‑‑ one of the initiatives that CODES will try to lead is Impact Initiative number 7 about nurturing the local innovation or the regional and national and local innovation network in order to really unlock digitalization for the climate change and biodiversity and pollution goals that you just mentioned in the Africa region.  Would you have views or insights that we can discuss to strengthen the initiative, and UNDP will lead the consultation process of this potential joint project or initiative along with many partners that we've already been starting to talk with.  We'd love to hear your views on how, because you have a lot of background actually in innovation, so we would love to hear how we can strengthen this.

   >> AMANDEEP GILL:  So this is commendable, and I think you have the right partners on the ground, and Africa is the right place to be doing this.

What I would just emphasize, and I'm sure it's already part of your thinking is that, you know, innovations come from ecosystems, they come from communities, it would be important to strengthen the local innovation systems and not have them dependent on knowledge making coming from another context.  That may be needed for a while, but I think it should be very limited, and the focus should be on building capacity locally, particularly capacity to use data signs, local datasets for local benefit.  Now, context is also important in the consideration around diversity, around human rights impact because that can have all kinds of implications and some of them unintended.  So, when you base it in context, when you bring more diverse players, local players into play, then you can address some of those risks.

Building local capacity, building local datasets for the green transition would require targeted efforts, and that's again one of the areas that my office is engaged on in the context of what we call data common sense, so data common sense in clarity, SDG areas like agriculture, food security, health, the green transition, education, humanitarian emergencies, so in each of those areas, there is a need to build human resources, and there’s also a need to build affordable distributed infrastructure, and then standards and benchmarks.

So, from the UN perspective, those comments, standards and benchmarks are important and have to be done in a neutral independent way, so there is no lock into commercial or other particular interests, and the countries or regions which are adopting these have full freedom, full agency to develop the ecosystem they wish to develop.

   >> REINA OTSUKA:  Thank you for the wise words.  I would like to open to the participants.  Especially I see Alex from Rwanda in the room.  Would you like to contribute some thoughts?  Since Rwanda has many innovations, and local innovation is very strongly nurtured there, how can Rwanda be part of this initial?  Perhaps, I would love to hear your experience as well?  Sure, start from that.

>> (Speaking off mic).

   >> AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Thank you very much Reina, thank you for the opportunity.  My name is A electros, and CEO of the Rwanda and part of the organization building the innovation ecosystem, we run about four innovation hubs starting from ideation up to acceleration.  And we work hand in hand with the government, but we are a private‑sector member nonprofit organization.

So, my question with regards to the last points you made on data commons and especially in the food security and agriculture space, we currently running actually ‑‑ we're training up data scientists and data engineers, a program that is ‑‑ we're doing it in collaboration with the government.  We put out a call for applications a few weeks ago to see if there is interest in this topic, and we had overwhelming interest.  Actually 1320 applicants within a week's time.  Now, their interest in becoming engineers, some employed, some still students, some have their own innovations, one of the most constraints is accessing datasets meaningful datasets that may go back in time that are large enough that they can use for training algorithms, and I understand that within the UN system, there is quite a lot of datasets that are being collected, whether it's UNDP and others.

So, my question is just on the practical part of what you are mentioning, and how accessible are these ‑‑ are the tools and the options that you're opening up?

So, to understand if we could do something around that in terms of giving them access?  That's my question.  I don't know if I should wait for you to respond to that and then respond to Reina's question in.

>> Sure, the data problem is longitudinal datasets over several years and the honest direct answer is that you have to build the datasets and that should be, in fact, part of the training because to expect and that somehow a curated, complete dataset will be just given to you so you can start modeling straight away on that, is to kind of simplify the complex reality.  And therefore, even the training that we have today on data science needs to be reinvented.  You look at the mooks, some of the courses available online, or bootcamps that are out there.  The assumption is that the data is available.  Somehow you have to fix the inoperability, cokes the datasets out of public authorities or private sector, you know, have APIs plugged into Twitter and you know then that will solve all of your problems.

I think the hard work around AI around data science is 80% data.  This has to be part of the training, and data that rarely speaks to the problem that you're trying to solve.  If you're trying to solve a Rwanda problem on agriculture and food security, then I think without having the local datasets around that, local datasets that are built in a diverse work and bring together, just the problem solving around it, bringing together different perspectives so that the data scientists understand what is relevant.  Sometimes the traditional farmers may have more understanding of what is relevant for the data problem than, you know university, academia type of experts.  So that's the thing.  And where possible, once you have that foundation, once you understand the problem and the problem can be fully understood only by working with the data and not outside of that context.  Then can you look at, okay, what is the other kind of metadata that can be maybe matching datasets that FAO and others may have from other geographies that have similar Agra‑climatic characteristics, and so that in a kind of honest way is the answer to that, but it's great to see that so many people are interested.  Our challenge is really to meet that interest can with courses, with opportunities that are up to the challenge.

   >> AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Thank you very much.  Actually, speaking more on the data part.  To respond to the question that Reina asked.  We've been doing this part of data collection and building systems.  As a matter of fact, UNDP in Rwanda office ran a few programs a few years ago where some of our entrepreneurs and innovators are building IoT devices for farmers, data and solar powered and so on, and these for some time have been collecting data.  We're also involved in solutions again within ‑‑ with off‑grid energy systems and these are also collecting data, an we're looking for data systems that argument ‑‑ it's not starting from scratch.

But in terms of to your question, Reina, the involvement, we're part of the ecosystem, I've been building the ecosystem for the last 11 years, and I know from ‑‑ just from a factual point of view, that you need a community to start with that understands like the Tech Envoy that understands the problems and builds solutions that respond to these problems that are there.  For us, we are open to join the coalition and to see where do we plug in.  We have labs for prototyping whether it's IoT or other types of equipment, and would be glad to see how we plug into this and kick off, but we're ready in a general way and excited that this is available as a global platform actually to see how we compare notes in terms of what's working and what's not working.  Yeah.

   >> REINA OTSUKA:  Thank you so much, Alex, for the wonderful intervention.  Yes, we really welcome you to join the codes.  There is a big network of different digital technology, data scientists, data companies, to UN organizations, I'm sure a lot of your problems, many people would love to pitch in to solve it together and to support on the capacity building side as well.  And on impact initiative 7, we'll really be happy if you can join and we can start to discuss more about how to design this in the Rwanda context, so we will keep if touch on that.

Thank you.

   >> SHIVAM KISHORE:  Reina.

   >> REINA OTSUKA:  Yes?

   >> SHIVAM KISHORE:  This is a voice coming from on the screen.  I have a quick comment to add that Amandeep said and Alex about the need to build in the complexity and harness in a way that is contextualized, but in addition to that I think there is an increasing recognition by a lot of organizations to surface a lot of these datasets as public goods, and the global public ‑‑ The Digital Public Goods Alliance and the GPAI are two good examples of organizations and entities that are working quite effectively to surface some of these datasets in an open and more transparent way as public goods, so maybe there are some resources for you to also consider in addition to continuing to build your own capacities to harness data through IoTs within the local contexts like Ahmad was saying to just a quick FYI as a piece of information that might be helpful.

   >> REINA OTSUKA:  Thank you, Shivam.  If there is anybody else who might want to give us any input or any words, we would love it hear from you.  Yes, please?

   >> AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Thank you.  I am Sali from Iraq and active person in the entrepreneurship ecosystem and managing innovation hub in Iraq.  Due to the conflict of Iraq, we are lacking having access to even very important governmental and macro‑economical data in Iraq, and even if you have access, then the quality is not that good and it's not aggregated or collected in one database, so the accessibility is really difficult.

And regarding this initiative, I have a question if there is any influence on biggest stakeholders or governments, for example, to be enabler for the three goals mentioned in these initiatives.

   >> REINA OTSUKA:  Dirk or Shivam would you like to answer.

   >> DIRK MESSNER:  Yes.  I could start answering and others can complement on that.  The answer to this question is, as you have been seeing, we have a core team, you know, and in this core team, you can see or in the core team the philosophy of working together as stakeholder community is reflected.  We have the UN system on board, we have science organizations on board, and governmental organizations from member states on board, and this is also the pattern which we try to organize when we look at the overall community.  I talked about how 1,000 stakeholders we brought into the discussion and who had been interested in interacting with us, no.  And the structure is the same.  Science is on board, UN on board, and member states on board, and these are the sources that you could get access to if you start joining our community because we try to be as interactive as possible, and we might help you to find the right partners and the right place to answer your concrete answers ‑‑ or concrete challenges.  Thank you.

   >> REINA OTSUKA:  Shivam, would you like to add from the digital public good angle?

   >> SHIVAM KISHORE:  I think it's really just complementing what Dirk said.  The premise behind the undertake something really to bring together organizations in an intelligent way through progress, common goals, and in this case organizations like DPJ, digital public good alliance are a great partner, great sort of stakeholder within the initiative.  They're doing some wonderful work and giving access to public goods or things that matter.  So, I would encourage sort of the individual to join and considering sort of becoming part of this to keep an active dialogue and help like Dirk was saying, help to facilitate the right partnerships to meet your needs and goals.

   >> REINA OTSUKA:  Thank you so much.  Anybody else who may want to provide some inputs?

No.  Great.  In that case we are actually almost out of time, so I think I would pass the mic to Amandeep one last time to give us some final words on how to work toward the future.

   >> AMANDEEP GILL:  Thank you so much.  I think you're set on a good path.  The framework is there, the action is taking place, and most importantly, the partnerships are there.  The stakeholders, the 1,000 plus that Dirk mentioned, so this has been an incredible platform or example of a platform that's multistakeholder, that's inclusive, and that's impactful.

The larger challenges, and our friend from Iraq mentioned those and where do we start in those kind of situations?

I think if I were to respond to that, I would say this is an opportunity in a sense to leapfrog a few intermediate stages and start investing in ‑‑ even if it's small datasets, specific problems that people face on a day‑to‑day basis, whether it's traffic accidents or the state of roads or building some datasets around that because you want to light the spark for the youth and demonstrate to them the power of data, the power of digital, and the power of having agency over your own problems and not waiting for someone else to solve those problems, even if it's small examples, you know, you create that kind of dynamic.  Again, in the digital environmental sustainability space, if we look back, this was a very different COP meeting.  For the first time, digital came up very strongly in several areas, the Climate Trace, and Secretary‑General apart from the issues of climate justice, loss and damage, that came up again for the first time in a big way and I think digital made a grand entry.

Our challenge is going to be able to meet the expectations that are there and also to be as collaborative as possible and as inclusive as possible.  Thank you.

   >> REINA OTSUKA:  Thank you so much, Amandeep.  With this we will close the session.  Thank you so much to everybody for being in the room and everybody online.  Thank you, Dirk and Shivam, as well for joining us online.  Thank you.