The G20 Digital Agenda: Cross-Presidency Priorities Foreword, The G20 Digital Agenda: Cross-Presidency Priorities, November 2023

Foreword, World Economic Forum White Paper : The G20 Digital Agenda: Cross-Presidency Priorities, November 2023

In May 2023, the World Economic Forum and the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) jointly launched an initiative called Facilitating Cross Presidency Dialogue on the Digital Agenda for the G20. Its aim was to identify pressing themes the G20 is or should be addressing and support the continuity of engagement around these issues across successive G20 presidencies.

The opportunities identified in this white paper draw on the expertise of business and expert communities convened by the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Councils and the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution – a global platform for helping leaders anticipate exponential technologies and accelerate their inclusive and sustainable adoption. It also draws on the substantial body of knowledge and expertise of the ORF, which served as the secretariat to Think20, the G20’s official engagement group for think tanks, during the most recent Indian G20 presidency of 2023.

While digital themes have featured on the G20’s agenda since the group’s formation in 1999, a systematic focus on building a resilient and thriving digital economy came into being in 2016 when the G20 Digital Economy Task Force was created. The following year, the German presidency oversaw the first-ever Digital Economy Ministerial Meeting with an emphasis on a broad spectrum of digital themes, including measuring the digital economy, investing in the ICT sector, promoting digital skills and training, boosting digital entrepreneurship, accelerating digital infrastructure for development, bridging the digital divide and building smart cities. With the establishment of the Digital Economy Working Group under the Indonesian presidency (2022), the focus on digital themes became even more entrenched.

At this point in time, the outgoing, incoming and upcoming presidencies – the so-called G20 Troika – are held by emerging economies. With South Africa slated to succeed Brazil in 2025, emerging economies stand to helm the G20 for four consecutive years. This presents a unique opportunity to place digital access, equity and development at the heart of the G20 agenda.

At a time when the rise of strategic competition and conflicting interests risk hampering collaboration, building consensus around foundational digital norms and technological advancements is crucial. Informing this process is the ambition of this work.

We would like to thank the members of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Councils (GFCs), whose contributions have been critical to this white paper. We hope the paper will support an ambitious and constructive dialogue on our shared digital future.

With: Anirban Sarma, Chair, Think20 Taskforce on Our Common Digital Future; Deputy Director, Observer Research Foundation

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