eCommerce Week: UN convenes global forum on digital economy

22 April 2022

UNCTAD's annual event highlights the urgent need for global data and digital governance to help developing countries access the benefits of the soaring digital economy.

Youth in Mauritania learn digital skills
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© UNDP/Freya Morales | Young people learn digital skills at a youth centre in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott.

With over 60 high-level speakers, 100 sessions and thousands of participants, UNCTAD’s eCommerce Week slated for 25 to 29 April brings together UN experts, government officials, business leaders, civil society representatives and academics focused on innovative solutions for development in a digital world.

Under the theme “Data and Digitalization for Development”, the event will address the pressing need for global dialogue on how the digital world is managed and how its governance could help bridge the digital divide and support sustainable development.

Nearly 3 billion people remain offline, 96% of whom live in developing countries. The unequal access to online solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic reinforced the social and economic disadvantages suffered by vulnerable populations.

"The pandemic has exposed the huge and growing digital and data divide that cuts off many developing countries from health-care solutions, financial access, e-commerce, technology skills and new growth sectors," UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan said. 

"Now is the time for a new path with new governance that makes the digital world far more inclusive, equitable and beneficial."

Ms. Grynspan further underlined that "all of us – technology companies, multilateral institutions, policymakers, the business community, and civil society groups – must work together to set robust rules of the game and ensure all countries and people have full access to the digital, data and cybersecurity solutions they need to develop and grow."

An intergovernmental group of experts will also look at the role of digitalization during the pandemic and in the recovery.

The urgency of global data and digital governance

eCommerce Week, as the global forum on development and the digital economy, aims to highlight the urgency of global data and digital governance to bridge the digital and data divides, fight inequality and help developing countries and vulnerable populations benefit from the digital economy.

The event will feature debates on the online economy, digital entrepreneurship, data governance and cybersecurity, the role of big tech, the challenges of setting global rules, the importance of collecting and sharing high-quality health data, and the threats to the environment from technology’s toxic waste and growing carbon footprint.

Key speakers will include internet pioneer Vinton Cerf, author and digital expert Gerry McGovern as well as global leaders from UN agencies, governments, major tech and digital corporations, digital entrepreneurs and innovators as well as thought leaders from civil society.

Convened by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in collaboration with eTrade for all and other partners, eCommerce Week will take place in a hybrid format, in Geneva and online. Register and see the full programme on the event website.