Within the framework of the 2021 Regional Forum for Sustainable Development, ITU was leading, together with UNECE, a Cross-cutting Session on Digitalization: Digital Transformation in the Wake of COVID-19, which was held virtually on 15 March 2021 from 10:00 to 12:30 CET. The meeting benefited from English-Russian translation and captioning services.
UN agencies that contributed to this session were members of the UN Digital Transformation Group for Europe and Central Asia (UNDT4ECA), which aimed to strengthen the prioritization of digitalization for the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
This session focused on the urgent needs of accelerating digital transformation across different sectors as an immediate response to COVID-19. It provided an opportunity for representatives of UN agencies and partners to highlight a series of actions, activities, initiatives and partnerships that advance digitalization and digitization processes in capacity building and skills development, health, trade, agriculture, governance, and urbanization, among others. The session also highlighted the importance of meaningful connectivity, equal access to information and communication technologies (ICTs), as well as digital skills and literacy amongst different groups of society.
Overall, this session aimed to promote the coordinated approach of UN agencies to support Member States in their implementation of the 2030 Agenda through ICTs. In particular, the session had a cross-cutting character and targeted all SDGs of the 2021 focus, namely: SDG 1, “No poverty"; SDG 2, “Zero Hunger"; SDG 3, “Good health and well-being"; SDG 4, “Quality education"; SDG 8, “Decent work and Economic growth"; SDG 9, “Industry, innovation and infrastructure"; SDG 10, “Reduced inequalities"; SDG 12, “Responsible consumption and production"; SDG 13, “Climate action"; and SDG 17, “Partnerships for the goals".
- Bridging digital divides in the time of COVID-19, ensuring universal meaningful connectivity across Europe and Central Europe.
- Developing digital skills and building human capacities to match the needs of gigabit society, thus empowering different groups of society, strengthening employability, and creating new job opportunities.
- Ensuring the participation of girls and women in ICT and its dynamics, and women's participation in the digital world; with a special focus on the repercussions of COVID-19 for women and girls in ICTs.
- Creating a safe and empowering cyberspace for children and youth through capacity building, skills development and the adoption of a multi-stakeholder approach to address the new challenges related to the current global pandemic.
- Highlighting the emerging role of ICTs as an engine for agriculture development in Europe and Central Asia, as well as pathways to ensure coordination amongst stakeholders and best practices to be scaled-up across the regions.
- Spotlighting the importance of new technologies to support trade and trade facilitation for more resilient and responsive economies in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Strengthening sustainable trade through ICTs to promote inclusive, transparent, and traceable value chains that foster responsible consumer choice, eco-design, planning, recycling processes, and effective waste prevention and management.
- Underscoring the importance of ICTs in pursuing trade-related environmental objectives, including fighting illegal, underreported, and unregulated fishing and the illegal trade of CITES-protected species, promoting the sound management of hazardous waste, and reducing food waste.
- Strengthening national capacities in implementing mobile health in the European region, with a special focus on the development of solutions to manage the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Strengthening the ICT´s contribution in making cities smarter, more sustainable, and more resilient in time of the pandemic.