Findings from ESCAP research including ESCAP’s flagship report, ‘Shaping Our Digital Future – Asia-Pacific Digital Transformation Report 2022’, indicate that the ‘digital divide’ among member States in the Asia-Pacific region is the largest in the world, and that achieving a certain level of digital inclusion requires not only the presence of technologies like mobile banking and digital legal identification but also ensuring affordability, security, and accessibility of devices and data usage for all, regardless of their income level or location.
To respond to the urgent need to address the digital divide and development gaps, member States developed and adopted the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway (APIS) Action Plan 2022- 2026. The Action Plan was fully endorsed with the adoption of the resolution 79/10 on “Promoting digital cooperation and inclusion through the Action Plan for Implementing the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway Initiative, 2022–2026” by member States at the 79th session of the ESCAP Commission in May 2023.
Serving as a blueprint for regional cooperative action and capacity building, the APIS Action Plan 2022-2026 highlights digital inclusion as a crucial catalyst for advancing the digital economy through accelerating digital transformation on 3 pillars, namely: “Connectivity for all”; “Digital technologies and applications”; and “Digital data”.
Against this background, the ESCAP secretariat, with support from the Korean Federation of Community Credit Cooperatives (KFCC), plans to organize the “Digital SDGs: Regional Workshop on Digital Inclusion and Community Development” on 18-19 September 2023, at the United Nations Conference Centre, Bangkok, Thailand, through in-person participation and online via Zoom. The Regional Workshop, which is sponsored by the KFCC, coincides with the global digital SDG day event which will be held in New York on 17 September, prior to the SDG Summit., in New York. At the regional level, this workshop will bring together the representatives from member States and related UN agencies, to address the challenges and opportunities that digital transformation can bring for SDG acceleration, within and across nations and the Asia-Pacific region.
- To enhance understanding of good practices and lessons learned on digital inclusion for SDGs, in particular, community-based digital financing inclusion;
- To strengthen partnerships on digital inclusion for SDGs with an emphasis on digital micro-finance models and systems in the community with an emphasis on women entrepreneurship; and
- To explore applications of new frontier technologies for community development including artificial intelligence and climate change technologies.