Remarks by Minister S Iswaran at the UN High Level Thematic Debate
I would like to thank the President of the General Assembly His Excellency Volkan Bozkir for convening this important debate.
Building on the UN Secretary General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, I will outline three attributes we should strive for to end the digital divide: inclusiveness, innovation, and interoperability.
First, digital transformation must be inclusive. Internationally, we must recognise the diversity of national circumstances. The UN Roadmap for Digital Cooperation is a good start. UN platforms like the Internet Governance Forum should continue to have a strong focus on digital inclusion, to facilitate the sharing of experiences and actions across countries.
In this regard, Singapore has a Digital Readiness Blueprint that could serve as a useful reference. It guides our efforts to equip our people with digital access, skills and know-how. It is a comprehensive document that covers all segments of our society - from children in lower income households, to senior citizens and micro SMEs.
Second, we must be innovative in our approach to end the digital divide. The accelerated pace of digital transformation has created opportunities but is also profoundly disruptive to some, and requires complex trade-offs. In response, we need creative solutions that harness diverse capabilities and insights. This would enable us to fulfil the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to leave no one behind.
To this end, Singapore recently launched our Digital for Life movement - a whole-of-nation effort endorsed by public, private, and people partners. The movement empowers the community to lead ground-up efforts and co-create solutions to foster digital inclusion.
- Finally, for a thriving digital future, we need an interoperable digital framework. Digitalisation democratises the economy. And, interoperability enables individuals and enterprises to gain access to global digital opportunities. In our region, ASEAN is facilitating cross-border data flows to unlock new business opportunities especially for our SMEs, through initiatives like the ASEAN Data Management Framework.
Allow me to conclude. While COVID-19 has unlocked the value of years-worth of digital transformation, it has also heightened the risk of divisions between the digital haves and have nots. Singapore will continue to work closely with fellow Member States to forge a shared digital future that is inclusive, innovative, and interoperable.