Position Statement: UN Global Digital Compact, Informal consultations

27 March 2023, New York – World Benchmarking Alliance Statement delivered by, Dio Herdiawan Tobing, Head of Public Policy (Asia)

Excellencies, Distinguished co-facilitators, Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I thank you for the opportunity to speak on behalf of the World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA). We are an international non-profit organisation that ranks and assesses the performance of the 200 biggest global digital technology companies on digital inclusion.

These companies is ranging from IT hardware companies (e.g. NVIDIA and Cisco), Software Apps (e.g.  Meta and Alphabet — the parent company of Google), to telecommunications companies (e.g. AT&T, Axiata, Telefonica, and Verizon). These companies represent headquarters up to 51 economies, the revenue of US$ 6 trillion, over 13 million employees, and presence in more than 175 economies.

WBA appreciates the rounds of consultations and call for inputs held by the Office of the Secretary General’s Envoy on Technology along with the esteemed co-facilitators to ensure that the anticipated UN Global Digital Compact is adopted with full adherence and appreciation to the principles of inclusivity and transparency.

WBA takes great interest in the development of the UN Global Digital Compact. We foresee the compact as an instrument that fills the architectural gap in shaping our future, which will be heavily dominated by digital transformation.

We believe that one of the critical elements of the UN Global Digital Compact is to strengthen the role of the corporate actors in driving digital inclusion and connectivity. In short, there must be a space within the compact that spells out the need and pathways for governments to define the roles and responsibilities of tech companies for actions.

We had learnt from the global pandemic in the past two years that — It is corporate-driven technologies that allow us to remain in touch and stay connected.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, WBA recently launched the third iteration of our digital inclusion benchmark at the WSIS Forum 2023 in Geneva. Our findings suggest that only 14% of companies are committed to digital inclusion — spanning from the elements of digital access, use, skills, and innovation. In addition, as we transition to a post-pandemic situation, many companies discontinued their initiatives resulting in a reduced commitment to digital inclusion.

Has a mechanism been in place to incentivise these global tech actors in progress for digital inclusion? — the answer is “No”. Henceforth, it is the right momentum to kick-start these initiatives through the UN Global Digital Compact as we embark on a new journey of global efforts in connecting the “unconnected” and including the “unincluded or excluded” in the digital transformation pathways, such as by tax incentives, technology subsidies, and other relief options.

Only by taking these steps the international community is going in the right direction in shaping an inclusive and trustworthy digital ecosystem.

WBA stands ready to support these measures further and to provide relevant insights from its benchmarks and our WBA Alliance of 340+ global multistakeholder organisations to this mission forward.

Thank you, we return the floor to the chairs

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