FfD Forum 2019

Statement to Panel D: “Trade, science, technology, innovation and capacity building” on behalf of Civil Society FfD Group (including the Women’s Working Group on FfD)

Delivered by Elenita Daño, Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC Group)

18 April 2019

Digital Economy will change Trade in various ways and different scales

  • need to define what is the digital economy and what technologies make up the digital platform to be more concrete and provide realism to the current euphoria about the claims of these technologies
  • Digital technologies will change Trade in terms of:
  • Products: what we trade (i.e., products of synthetic biology, gene editing)
  • Processes: how products are made (i.e., 3D printing, digital sequencing)
  • IPR implications, i.e., how current IPR rules are applied on digital technologies
  • How we trade (i.e., block chain, AI/ML)

Harnessing Opportunities presented by Digital Economy

  • Opportunities do not and will not happen automatically and will definitely not happen by giving out smart phones to the poor, but can only be harnessed based on conscious strategic plans and policies aimed at addressing inequality and the structural roots of poverty – to achieve the Leave No One Behind vision
  • Not just about policy space, but more about political will
  • Centrality of people, not of machines/robots
  • Inclusiveness: questioning and challenging power relations to reach this goal; common good over corporate profits/greed
  • Take stock of realities: Infrastructures, education, capacities, cultures
  • Skills and capacities: recognizing the knowledge and potentials communities that enabled them to be resilient; not just about re-skilling but long-term measures
  • Ensuring Social Protection measures are in place in the midst of displacement, marginalization, disruptions
  • Protection of Rights of people
  • Bottom-up approach; top-down runs counter to inclusiveness

Addressing the Challenges of the Digital Economy

  • We need to name and tackle these challenges now, not to fix-them-as-we-go
  • Take stock of the ecological footprints of digital technologies; energy requirements, impact of climate change
  • Social and economic impacts
  • Control and ownership of technologies and Big Data: i.e., taxation of Big Tech and corporations

Key role of the UN in building the capacities of countries and institutions to do horizon scanning and have foresight on potential impacts of digital technologies, prepare and make decisions based on broad array of options that are not limited to technological solutions

  • Evaluation of technologies need to be bottom-up to be relevant and to be able to identify potential societal impacts and how to address them


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