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Registration for UNCTAD eWeek 2023 now open

24 July 2023

The global event offers a unique platform for governments, businesses, civil society and international organizations to work together to shape a better digital future for all.

© Shutterstock/Gorodenkoff | The digital transformation offered by Industry 4.0 enables virtual replicas of manufacturing processes, production lines, factories and supply chains.

Registration is now open for UNCTAD eWeek 2023, slated for 4 to 8 December in Geneva, Switzerland.

The event will bring together thought leaders, innovators and representatives from governments, businesses, civil society and international organizations to shape a digital future that benefits everyone.

Digitalization is revolutionizing every aspect of our economies and societies – from how governments operate and businesses function to how we shop, learn and network.

New digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain, are bringing enormous opportunities for growth and innovation. But not everyone is equally prepared, and the benefits are far from evenly distributed.

Access to digital technologies, connectivity, and data varies greatly. For example, the average use of internet bandwidth in high-income countries is 17 times greater than in least developed countries.

The concentration of power in a handful of digital platforms in a few countries reinforces network effects that further widen divides.

Also, the new technologies are bringing new challenges, such as protecting people’s privacy and security and ensuring people have the skills needed for the jobs of tomorrow.

‘A lot is at stake’

“A lot is at stake. And for developing countries, the stakes are even higher,” said Shamika N. Sirimanne, director of UNCTAD’s division on technology and logistics.

“Without the capabilities to fully harness digital technologies, these countries risk falling even further behind,” Ms. Sirimanne added.

The economic and social consequences of the digital divides could be devastating, especially since digitalization is accelerating against the backdrop of multiple global crises. These include the climate change emergency, rising poverty and growing inequalities, worsening global food insecurity, heightened debt distress, geopolitical conflicts and the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Digital crossroads

“Now, more than ever, we stand at a digital crossroads,” Ms. Sirimanne said. “While there is no turning back from digitalization, we can shape the digital future.”

“Time is of the essence,” she added, “as we navigate the uncertainties surrounding advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, Internet of Things and cloud computing.”

Positioned strategically between the United Nations SDG Summit and The Summit of the Future, and ahead of the Word Trade Organization’s 13th Ministerial Conference, UNCTAD eWeek can serve as a springboard for meaningful change.

During the week, experts and participants will address a multitude of key topics in person and virtually.

High-level sessions will tackle crucial topics such as governing data and the digital economy, creating a level playing field for digital platforms of all sizes, enhancing digital trade opportunities for developing countries, harnessing the potential of artificial intelligence, empowering women digital entrepreneurs in the developing world and leveraging digitalization for environmental sustainability.

Collective commitment

“The interest people and organizations have already shown for eWeek demonstrates the collective commitment across stakeholders to have a say in the digital future that they want,” Ms. Sirimanne says.

UNCTAD has received more than 200 session proposals from over 50 different countries. Out of these proposals, 39% came from governments and international organizations, 19% from the private sector, 23% from civil society organizations and 19% from academia and other sectors.

eWeek offers a unique platform for the world to come together to identify the solutions and collective action needed to steer the digital transformation in a direction that maximizes the benefits for everyone.

The event, organized with the support of the Swiss government, will take place at the CICG Conference Centre in Geneva, Switzerland.