IGF 2021 Launch / Award Event #25 Corporate action on digital inclusion: progress and prospects

Tuesday, 7th December, 2021 (14:00 UTC) - Tuesday, 7th December, 2021 (15:00 UTC)
Conference Room 7

World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA)
1. Lourdes Montenegro (Philippines), Lead, Digital Sector Transformation, WBA

2. Nicholas Sewe (Kenya), Engagement Manager, Digital Inclusion Benchmark, WBA

3. Megan Roberts (U.S.), Director of Policy Planning, United Nations Foundation


1. Philippe-André Rodriguez, Deputy Director, Center for International Digital Policy, Global Affairs Canada  

2. Lourdes Montenegro, Lead, Digital Sector Transformation, WBA

3. Yu Ping Chan, Senior Programme Officer, Office of the Envoy on Technology, United Nations

4. Nnenna Nwakanma, Chief Web Advocate, World Wide Web Foundation 

5. Christine Brueschke, Sustainable Investing Analyst, Fidelity International

6. Eduardo Navarro, Chief Corporate Affairs & Sustainability Officer, Telefónica S.A. 

7. Prajna Khanna, Head of Sustainability at Prosus & Naspers  

Online Moderator

Megan Roberts, Director of Policy Planning, United Nations Foundation


Nicholas Sewe (Kenya), Engagement Manager, Digital Inclusion Benchmark, WBA


This will be a virtual event. We will have opening statements on digital inclusion and cooperation from 2-3 stakeholders in the digital sector such as from the UN Office of the Envoy on Technology and the UN Foundation. Then a moderated panel discussion on the need for multi-stakeholder collaboration to address the specific issues emerging from the Digital Inclusion Benchmark results, with calls to action on digital cooperation and corporate responsibility.

Duration (minutes)



This session will launch and unveil the 2021 results of the World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA) Digital Inclusion Benchmark. The Benchmark ranks and scores 150 of the world’s most influential technology companies (including hardware, telcos and platforms) on their actions towards four areas of digital inclusion: enhancing universal access to digital technologies, improving all levels of digital skills, fostering trustworthy use by mitigating risks and harms, and innovating openly, inclusively and ethically. As such it highlights the critical role of the private sector in accelerating the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through digital inclusion. For more background information, you may navigate to the following links:

2020 key findings, rank and scores of 100 digital technology companies: https://www.worldbenchmarkingalliance.org/publication/digital-inclusion/

2020 in-depth report and analysis: https://assets.worldbenchmarkingalliance.org/app/uploads/2020/12/DIB2020-Synthesis-report.pdf

During the session, we will discuss 2021 key findings from the Benchmark research which is relevant for IGF’s 2021 focus areas:

Economic and social inclusion and human rights

Universal access and meaningful connectivity

The discussion may also touch on emerging and cross-cutting areas, including: Inclusive Internet governance ecosystems and digital cooperation

Trust, security, stability

In particular, by highlighting the role of systematic and comparable data on corporate contributions to digital inclusion, hence revealing gaps where more coordinated action is required, the session can contribute towards Policy Question #4 under Economic and social inclusion and human rights:

Inclusion, rights and stakeholder roles and responsibilities: What are/should be the responsibilities of governments, business, the technical community, civil society, the academic and research sector and community-based actors with regards to digital inclusion and respect for human rights, and what is needed for them to fulfil these in an efficient and effective manner?

The WBA is one of the key constituents of Roundtable 1 C/D “Digital Inclusion” of the UN SG’s Digital Cooperation Roadmap. For this proposed IGF session, we expect participants to include representatives from companies benchmarked as well as WBA Allied entities, including investors representing more than USD 7 trillion assets under management, as well as civil society organizations and think tanks.

To ensure the best experience for all participants, the session’s agenda will have a slot for an open discussion/Q&A from the audience which will encourage interactions, contributions and engagement among various stakeholders; by making verbal statements and comments or through the chat section (text). We also plan to encourage the audience from all over the world to tweet about the event in real-time as this will enrich the discussions on digital inclusion.

Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)

Stakeholders including governments, the private sector, the civil society and benchmarking organisations feel there's a strong need for a multi-stakeholder approach to address the pressing issues hindering achievement of digital inclusion such as laxity on the part of digital technology companies in enhancing access, developing digital skills and literacy of people, ensuring trust in technologies and innovating openly and ethically.

Session Report (* deadline 26 October) - click on the ? symbol for instructions

Session Report: IGF 2021 Launch / Award Event #25 Corporate action on digital inclusion: progress and prospects  


The World Benchmarking Alliance and the United Nations Foundation co-hosted the launch of the second iteration of the Digital Inclusion Benchmark (DIB) results, which assessed 150 of the world’s most influential digital technology companies on their contribution to digital inclusion.  

The companies have been assessed on four measurement areas; Enhancing universal access to digital technologies; Improving all levels of digital skills; Fostering trustworthy use by mitigating risks and harms; Innovating openly, inclusively, and ethically. 

The results show that most tech companies still aren’t taking their responsibility to ensure that people are able to use technology – and in a way that benefits them – seriously. A handful is leading the way with robust child safety commitments or ethical principles regarding artificial intelligence. However, most of the world’s most powerful and influential aren’t displaying the maturity that the world expects of them to ensure that they help, rather than hinder our progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. These findings call for swift action by stakeholders to ensure corporate accountability and responsibility in advancing efforts towards digital inclusion 

The focus of the discussion at the UN Internet Governance Forum (IGF) was on how multi-stakeholders including the private sector, governments, civil society and inter-governmental organizations can work together and use the findings of the benchmark to achieve an inclusive digital economy that benefits everyone in society. 

Yu Ping Chan, Senior Programme Officer, Office of the Envoy on Technology, United Nations, called for cooperation among stakeholders, as envisioned in the UN Secretary General’s roadmap. This would include having a clear definition of digital inclusion that can draw on WBA’s DIB framework and having scorecards to help countries measure their progress towards digital inclusion. The upcoming Digital Global Compact was also highlighted as a potential avenue to bring together the private sector, governments and civil society for an inclusive digital society for everyone. Yu Ping noted that the DIB methodology and findings, along with other guiding principles, can be used to hold companies and the international community accountable, through pledges on achieving digital inclusion through the global compact. 

Nnenna Nwakanma, Chief Web Advocate, World Wide Web Foundation urged stakeholders such as the World Benchmarking Alliance to keep raising evidence on the lack of commitment towards digital inclusion and engage the private sector for accountability. Nnenna emphasised the need to have a global meaningful and affordable connectivity so that everyone can have the opportunity to explore the opportunities that the internet provides, and called on the civil society and global actors to raise their voice on the need to leave no one behind while building the digital economy. 

Prajna Khanna, Head of Sustainability at Prosus & Naspers said companies should focus on responsible innovation and positive impact on society in areas such as health, agriculture, off-grid energy access, banking and other sectors to unlock the true potential of digital inclusion.  

Eduardo Navarro, Chief Corporate Affairs & Sustainability Officer, Telefónica S.A, the company that topped this year’s rankings in the Digital Inclusion Benchmark said they have focused on listening and learning from stakeholders and the World Benchmarking Alliance to improve on its efforts to advance digital inclusion. Eduardo called on the private sector to make commitments to contributing towards digital inclusion because technology helps in promoting an inclusive society, through connectivity which brings about numerous opportunities for economic growth. 

Christine Brueschke, Sustainable Investing Analyst, Fidelity International said the investor group, with the help of the World Benchmarking Alliance, will be able to focus on digital ethics which is not all about access, but also includes enhancement of digital skills, trust in digital technologies and inclusivity in innovation. Christine added that it’s important to acknowledge efforts by tech companies doing well in advancing digital inclusion and work with stakeholders to motivate the laggards to step up and drive change in the digital sector.  

Fidelity International will be working with WBA through the Collective Impact Coalitions, which will first take coordinated actions to address the lack of ethics in Artificial Intelligence as highlighted by the 2021 DIB findings to drive systemic change. Lourdes Montenegro, the Lead Digital Sector Transformation added that the DIB is well-placed to serve as a key component of an accountability mechanism to ensure companies address critical issues relevant to digital inclusion. Lourdes called on stakeholders to work together through the Collective Impact Coalition to advocate for change among companies to achieve an inclusive digital economy that benefits everyone. 

We also had remote participants engaging on social media using session-specific hashtags. Below are examples of Tweets posted during and after the session: