Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma will co-chair a new United Nations High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation with Melinda Gates, the UN said Thursday.
The panel, which comprises 20 members from the public and private sectors, academia and civil society, has been tasked with ensuring “a safe and inclusive digital future for all” by identifying policy, research and information gaps in the current state of technology and making proposals to address them.
“The scale, spread and speed of change made possible by digital technologies is unprecedented, but the current means and levels of international cooperation are unequal to the challenge,” UN Secretary-General Ant√≥nio Guterres said in a statement.
WATCH: A message from UN Secretary-General Ant√≥nio Guterres on the new High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation.
Guterres also noted that technology plays an important role in helping reach the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which include everything from supporting small and micro-businesses to empowering women and young people in developing countries.
“Therefore, cooperation across domains and across borders is critical to realizing the full social and economic potential of digital technologies as well as mitigating the risks that they pose and curtailing any unintended consequences,” he said.
The panel’s first in-person meeting will take place in September, with its final report submitted to the Secretary-General within nine months. The panel is expected to undertake a wide range of public consultations, including at least two public events and an open process inviting global input. Some of that input will be made through online channels, the UN said.
The panel will be supported by a small Secretariat funded by donor resources and based in New York and Geneva.
“Soon, every industry will be digitized, and this will have a tremendous impact on every aspect of life,” Ma said in the statement. “In this digital era, data and technology are more broadly available, enabling entrepreneurialism, economic growth and improved quality of life for those who have the access and training to leverage it. Global, cross-sector collaboration is critical to ensure the benefits of the digital era are possible for all.”
Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, echoed those sentiments, saying, “if all people, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, have equal access to digital technology, they will use it to improve life for themselves and their families and raise their voices in conversations about what the future holds. Enabling this widescale empowerment is what this panel is about.”
The full list of panel members is below:
- Melinda Gates (USA), Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- Jack Ma (China), Executive Chairman, Alibaba Group
- Mohammed Al Gergawi (UAE), Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future, UAE
- Yuichiro Anzai (Japan), President of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science
- Nikolai Astrup (Norway), Minister of International Development, Norway
- Vinton Cerf (USA), Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist, Google
- Fadi Chehad√© (USA), Partner at ABRY Partners
- Isabel Guerrero Pulgar (Chile), Director, IMAGO Global Grassroots and Lecturer, Harvard Kennedy School
- Marina Kaljurand (Estonia), Chair of the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace
- Bogolo Kenewendo (Botswana), Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Botswana
- Akaliza Keza Ntwari (Rwanda), ICT advocate and entrepreneur
- Marina Kolesnik (Russian Federation), senior executive, entrepreneur and WEF Young Global Leader
- Doris Leuthard (Switzerland), Head of the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications, Switzerland
- Cathy Mulligan (United Kingdom), Visiting Research Fellow Imperial College Centre for Cryptocurrency
- Edson Prestes (Brazil), Professor, Institute of Informatics, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul
- Kira Radinsky (Israel), Director of Data Science, eBay
- Nanjira Sambuli (Kenya), Digital Equality Advocacy Manager, World Wide Web Foundation
- Sophie Soowon Eom (Republic of Korea), Founder of Adriel AI and Solidware
- Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah (Australia), Secretary General, CIVICUS
- Jean Tirole (France), Chairman of the Toulouse School of Economics and the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse
- Amandeep Singh Gill (India), Executive Director, Secretariat of the High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation
- Jovan Kurbalija (Serbia), Executive Director, Secretariat of the High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation