Mindful Monday 24: Cross-border data flows and development - For whom the data flow

20 September 2021

By Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General, UNCTAD

“Cross-border data flows and development: For whom the data flowis the topic of the Digital Economy Report 2021. This flagship publication will be launched at a high-level event on the eve of UNCTAD15 and will certainly feed the discussions at the ministerial conference. Register here.

Digital data are core to all fast-evolving digital technologies and they matter for achieving virtually the Sustainable Development Goals. Countries at all levels of development are struggling to determine ways to deal with data and data flows from a policy perspective. The ultimate approach chosen at national and international levels will affect not only trade, innovation and economic progress but also a range of issues related to the distribution of gains from digitalization, human rights, law enforcement and national security.

The report provides a fresh and holistic view of digital technologies as a particular kind of international economic flow. It looks at existing governance approaches at national, regional, and multilateral levels that have a bearing on data flows. The report also calls for a more balanced approach to global data governance that facilitates data flow across borders as freely as necessary and possible, while achieving equitable distribution of benefits, and addressing risks related to human rights and national security.

As stressed by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in the preface of the report, “It is more important than ever to embark on a new path for digital and data governance. The current fragmented data landscape risks us failing to capture value that could accrue from digital technologies and it may create more space for substantial harm related to privacy breaches, cyberattacks and other risks.”

The high-level event will be moderated by Her Excellency Maimuna Tarishi, ambassador of Tanzania and current president of UNCTAD’s Trade and Development Board. Opening remarks will be delivered by UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan, and Shamika Sirimanne, director of UNCTAD's division for technology and logistics, will introduce the report.

The following speakers will be invited to make statements on 29 September, 15:00-16:30:

  1. H.E. Ms. Vianna Maino, Minister of Telecommunications and the Information Society of Ecuador, eLAC Chair.
  2. H.E. Mr. Johnny Gerard Plate, Minister of Communications and Informatics of Indonesia, G20 Presidency 2022.
  3. H.E. Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, African Union Commission.
  4. Mr. Didier Reynders, European Commissioner for Justice.
  5. Mr. Bertrand de La Chapelle, Executive Director and Co-founder of the Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network.

Mark your calendar and join us on 29 September at 15:00 for an interactive digital discussion right before UNCTAD15.