IGF 2023 Open Forum #131 AI is here. Are countries ready, or not?

Wednesday, 11th October, 2023 (06:30 UTC) - Wednesday, 11th October, 2023 (07:30 UTC)
WS 8 – Room C-1

Chat GPT, Generative AI, and Machine Learning

Round Table - 60 Min


AI is here. Are countries ready, or not?

How can countries accelerate their effective adoption and utilization of AI for the SDGs

This roundtable is intended to inspire positive change in the way artificial intelligence is developed and deployed. It aims to inspire a shift toward more responsible and accountable AI practices by providing participants with a holistic understanding of data governance, ethical considerations, and government-specific challenges.

First, we will delve into why countries must be prepared for AI. As AI technologies proliferate, governments that are not equipped to integrate them risk being left behind. The readiness for AI is not just a technological issue; it is a human rights imperative that demands an inclusive and gender-sensitive approach.

Second, the session will explore how ethically deployed AI, with a focus on human-centred design, can offer countries an unparalleled opportunity to leapfrog development challenges and make substantial strides towards achieving the SDGs. We will discuss the ethical considerations of inclusivity, human rights, and gender sensitivity that need to be embedded in AI deployment. Discussions will underscore why partnerships and a multi-stakeholder approach involving the private sector, civil society, and other focus groups is crucial. Achieving the ethical and responsible use of AI is a collective responsibility that requires wide-ranging input and shared accountability.

The session will also examine why governments must have foundational elements like robust data governance, data exchanges, and a sound digital ecosystems in place. These elements are key to ensuring that AI applications are effective, equitable, and respectful of human rights. The session will discuss the need for a whole-of-society strategy for AI, avoiding a siloed approach that restricts the technology's potential for social good. A holistic national strategy ensures that AI serves as a tool for comprehensive, sustainable development rather than perpetuating existing inequalities.

About the AI Readiness Assessment:

UNDP is an active member of the United Nations Inter-Agency Working Group on Artificial Intelligence. The group has put forward AI Ethical Standards, with UNDP co-leading the Readiness and Impact Assessment workstream alongside ITU and UNESCO. One of the significant tools created by UNDP in this regard is the AI Readiness Assessment.

The AI Readiness Assessment is composed of 3 Pillars: Government as a User of AI, Government as an Enabler of AI technology, and Ethical AI.

Under each Pillar, lies a set of Dimensions and Sub-dimension, each of which map to a specific SDG. This tool comprehensively maps out all AI activities that a government has undertaken while also providing an analysis of the entire society's readiness for AI.

The tool also identifies critical factors for the development and deployment of ethical AI, and it offers a roadmap for governments to implement policies, infrastructure, and skills necessary to promote effective and ethical use of AI technology to accelerate the achievement of the SDGs. Oxford Insights, a global strategic advisory firm with global AI experts, partnered with UNDP to create this tool, which brings together the work of all UN agencies.

UNDP is already engaged with 15 countries on the AI Readiness Assessment, and the countries whose initial implementation results may be ready to be shared at IGF include Bolivia, Rwanda, Sri Lanka and Colombia. We are seeking feedback and discussion on ways to improve and expand the AIRA by hearing from other experts at this Open Forum roundtable at IGF 2023.

Session agenda:

  • Opening Remarks by UNDP Chief Digital Officer
  • Roundtable discussion - Guest Speakers as Firestarters
  • Reflections and Open discussion with all participants   
  • AI Readiness Assessment - Presentation
  • Feedback & Next Steps


Summary blog: https://www.undp.org/blog/are-countries-ready-ai-how-they-can-ensure-et…

Video overview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_m-_fsT1kP8




  • Robert Opp, UNDP Chief Digital Officer (International Organization, HQ/North America)
  • Yasmine Hamdar, UNDP Chief Digital Office (International Organization, Middle East Region)
  • Dr. Romesh Ranawana, Chairman, National Committee to Formulate a Strategy for Artificial Intelligence of Sri Lanka
  • Denise Wong, Assistant Chief Executive for Data Innovation and Protection, IMDA
  • Alison Gillwald, Executive Director of Research ICT Africa (RIA)
  • Gallia Daor, Policy Analyst, Digital Economy Policy Division, Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
  • Alain Ndayishimiye, Project Lead Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning, Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Rwanda
  • Moderator: Robert Opp, Chief Digital Officer at UNDP
Onsite Moderator

Robert Opp, UNDP Chief Digital Officer

Online Moderator

Yasmine Hamdar, UNDP Chief Digital Office


Yasmine Hamdar, UNDP Chief Digital Office


8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
10. Reduced Inequalities
16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
17. Partnerships for the Goals

Targets: 8.3 Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services 9.5 Enhance scientific research, upgrade the technological capabilities of industrial sectors in all countries, in particular developing countries, including, by 2030, encouraging innovation and substantially increasing the number of research and development workers per 1 million people and public and private research and development spending 10.3 Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard 16.6 Develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels 16.7 Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels 16.8 Broaden and strengthen the participation of developing countries in the institutions of global governance 17.7 Promote the development, transfer, dissemination and diffusion of environmentally sound technologies to developing countries on favourable terms, including on concessional and preferential terms, as mutually agreed