Enabling policy environment for digital transformation

19 Mar 2018 09:00h - 10:45h

Event report

[Read more session reports from the WSIS Forum 2018]

Ms Carolyn Nguyen, director of Microsoft’s Technology Policy Group, started by explaining the aims of this thematic workshop, focused on creating awareness about recommendations and guidelines of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), promoting the development of digital economy policies.

The first presenter, Mr Makoto Yokozawa, co-chair of the BIAC Committee on Digital Economy Policy, OECD, indicated the difficulties in discussing digital economy policy. Yokozawa noted the existence of numerous spaces discussing digital initiatives globally and regionally and pointed out that important initiatives are being developed by organisations like the OECD and APEC. He also mentioned that the variety of issues being discussed under the digital economy umbrella add another level of complexity to the dialogue. He concluded his talk presenting a framework to categorise and guide the dialogue about digital economy policy-making efforts. The digital transformation layer model is formed by five tiers: a) approaching the investors’ confidence layer; b) content/intellectual property layer; c) services/solution layer; d) network communication layer; and e) product manufacturing layer.

Ms Molly Lesher, lead of the OECD Going Digital Project stressed the OECD commitment to support governments to develop evidence-based policies enabling the digital economy and inclusive growth. She provided an overview of OECD involvement in digital economy policy making, noting instruments like the OECD Privacy Guidelines, the OECD Security Guidelines and the OECD E-commerce Guidelines, or the OECD High-level declaration on Innovation, Growth and Social Prosperity. Lesher illustrated the importance of these guidelines to enable the free flow of information, risk management, trust, and the engagement of all stakeholders. She also mentioned the importance of OECD working towards the development of consensus in digital economy policy-making and introduced the OECD Going Digital Project. The initiative aims to ‘understand the digital transformation and its impact on the economy and society’ at the same time that it can ‘provide policy-makers with the tools needed to develop a forward-looking, whole-of-government policy response’. She explained that the project uses a horizontal analysis to understand and respond to ‘digital transformation through the development of an integrated policy framework’ that explores transversal issues like digital security, policy design. and strategic foresight. Lesher also explained that Going Digital intersects with more than 80 other OECD projects and targets in-depth the following key policy challenges: a) jobs, skills, and the nature of work; b) well-being and inclusion; c) productivity, competition, and market openness; and measurement.

Ms Yukiko Tsuchiya, assistant director in the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Japan, presented the Japanese efforts to create a constructive dialogue about artificial intelligence (AI) regulation. She pointed out the positive social and economic impacts of AI, but also raised concerns of the big challenges that AI brings to society. She noted that in order to address these issues it is important to convene international discussions that include all relevant stakeholders. Tsuchiya then presented the Japanese experience in drafting a human-centric policy instrument that was presented to the G7 ICT and Industry Ministries during the Turin meeting in 2017. The AI R&D Guidelines were designed by representatives of different stakeholders and propose a ‘non-regulatory and non-binding international framework’ able to drive innovation and growth while preserving a human-centric vision.

Ms Yolanda Martinez, national digital strategy coordinator, for the President’s Office, Mexico, reinforced the need to recognise and develop a people-centric approach to the digital economy. Talking about her experience in Mexico, she pointed out that three important elements should be considered when developing conditions to enable digital policy making: a) political leadership; b) a well-designed and established policy framework; and c) the capacity to deliver. Illustrating her points, Ms Martinez gave the example of Mexico. The current president was able to create a political environment crucial to supporting a digital policy-making economy. This included the establishment of a constitutional right to access the Internet, the institution of an independent telecommunication regulator, and the creation of a national digital policy. She noted that the national digital policy constitutes a comprehensive framework giving objectives, actions, and expected results. Finally, she mentioned that it is important that actors in charge of implementing policies have human and technical resources to support their activities.

Talking about his experience, Mr Brett Makens from the United States Mission in Geneva, shared some views about his experiences in Estonia. Makens noted that in order to overcome the challenges arising for its independence, Estonia developed an innovative digital transformation strategy based on three important points: a) the development of an innovation enabling system; b) the creation of an investment-friendly environment; and c) the transformation of the relationship between the private sector and government.

Due to the unavoidable absence of Ms Dominique Lazanski, director of Public Policy and International Relations at GSMA, the moderator highlighted some of Ms Lazanski planned remarks. Lazanski stressed that digital economy policy needs to be concerned with the promotion of education at all levels, the affordability of devices, and enabling innovation. While combating discriminatory and static regulations, policy-makers need to develop bottom-up strategies to engage all stakeholders and to enable functional, flexible and technologically neutral policies.

by Joao Araujo Monteiro