Panel - 90 Min
Digital transformation can give governments the best chance of making sustainable, effective, innovative policies that fulfil the UN's SDGs. With the right digital competencies, policymakers and regulators are empowered to digitally transform their institutions with policies that take advantage of the opportunities offered by new technologies, while navigating the many risks and challenges they can bring.
In 2021, UNESCO noted a high demand to boost government officials' digital skills, revealed in the African Artificial Intelligence Needs Assessment survey. In response, UNESCO, in its role as the co-leader of the Broadband Commission's AI Capacity Building Working Group, embarked on the creation of a framework entitled "Artificial Intelligence and Digital Transformation: Competencies for Civil Servants." This framework is designed to assist policymakers, regulators, and digital leaders in advancing national initiatives focused on enhancing digital capabilities.
As a consequential step, on the 15th of March 2023, UNESCO inaugurated the "Dynamic Coalition for Digital Capacity Building" during the World Summit on the Information Society Forum 2023.
This coalition's primary mission is to bolster countries in their digital transformation journeys by facilitating exchanges among a global network of digital leaders.
This objective of the IGF UNESCO Open Forum is threefold:
To convene this network of digital leaders, comprising a diverse community of experts and stakeholders deeply engaged in dialogues centred on capacity building initiatives and best practices for digital transformation among civil servants;
To interactively discuss and examine the challenges, requirements and solutions in terms of digital capacity building as articulated by the stakeholders;
To develop and reinforce the scope, membership and roadmap of the Dynamic Coalition which seeks to serve as a catalyst for global discussions and the dissemination of best practices in digital transformation and capacity building for civil servants, underpinned by tangible real-world examples.
The speakers around the table at this Open Forum represent a diverse group of global stakeholders, including governments, civil society, intergovernmental organizations, academia, the private and tech sectors, civil servants, media, and beyond. They have been invited to engage in a moderated and interactive discussion focusing on digital capacity building for civil servants. As UNESCO adheres to a multi-stakeholder approach, we are dedicated to ensuring that the session remains interactive and accessible to all. Anyone joining the session, either online or onsite, can speak up and share their insights on this very important topic.
Expected Outcome *
The session aims to create a network of digital leaders and initiate the UNESCO Dynamic Coalition on digital capacity building (DC) with potential partners to foster collaboration, share best practices, and catalyze progress in the realm of digital capacity building.
Flow of the Session
Part 1: UNESCO Competency Framework Presentation (30 minutes)
After an in-depth presentation of the AI and Digital Transformation Competency Framework for Civil Servants, the audience is introduced to the Dynamic Coalition initiative which was launched at the WSIS Forum 2023 (scope and objectives)
Questions part 1 for speakers at the roundtable: Considering the UNESCO Competency Framework, what specific digital skills and competencies do you believe are most critical for civil servants to possess to thrive in today's rapidly evolving digital landscape? Why a Dynamic Coalition on digital capacity building?
Part 2: Understanding the challenges and needs (30 minutes)
Following the presentation, we transition to an interactive discussion among stakeholders, including governments, civil servants, and organizations, to understand the key needs and lessons learnt with respect to capacity building programmes from the digital transformation landscape of public administrations.
Questions part 2 for speakers at the roundtable: Could you share a specific challenge and lessons your organization has encountered when it comes to digital transformation within the public sector? How do you envision addressing this challenge? What are the most urgent issues you believe need to be addressed?
Part 3: Roadmap for the Dynamic Coalition (30 minutes)
Finally, we delve deeper into the Dynamic Coalition (DC) on digital Capacity Building by discussing its scope and introduce the proposed draft Roadmap for participants’ input. The DC is a collaborative space aimed at uniting diverse voices and expertise to advance digital capacity building in public administrations. Your active participation and contributions are pivotal as we embark on this collective journey.
(The DC Roadmap is presented)
Questions part 3 for speakers at the roundtable: How would the Dynamic Coalition be most valuable to you? What could be some of the areas that the Dynamic Coalition should focus on in its first two years? What kinds of activities or initiatives do you believe our coalition should prioritize to effectively support digital transformation efforts within public administrations? What is your take on the presented roadmap? Are we missing critical points?
Outputs and Activities DC
The Dynamic Coalition (DC) is geared towards fostering a range of outputs and activities aimed at enriching the digital capacity building landscape. Based on the AI and Digital Transformation Competency Framework (2022), and in line with relevant WSIS Action Lines, the Dynamic Coalition will:
Facilitate sharing of good practices on digital transformation with concrete use cases. This will help governments to learn from each-others’ experience.
Provide a network to support the implementation of UNESCO’s methodology (under development) for assessment of digital capacities in governments and then to support relevant capacity development projects (organisation of trainings, seminars, publications …)
Among the DC initiatives, you can expect:
A monthly Knowledge Blog Series where the DC members share their unique approaches and best practices in the realm of digital capacity building. These blogs serve as a repository of shared experiences, best practices, and innovative approaches. This can become a vital avenue for organizations, countries, and all stakeholders to learn from one another.
Provide a network of digital leaders to support the implementation of the methodology for assessment of digital capacities in governments and then to support relevant capacity development projects (organisation of conferences, forums, webinars, trainings, seminars, publications etc. …)
Collaboratively develop content for digital capacity building in government on selected themes through Working Groups of the Dynamic Coalition.
Charline d’Oultremont, UNESCO Consultant Digital Capacity Building, Prateek Sibal, UNESCO Programme specialist Digital Innovation and Transformation, Nadine Dammaschk, GIZ, Advisor for Artificial Intelligence and digital public goods, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH Gaurav Sharma, Advisor on AI, FAIR Forward: AI for All”, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
Alexander Barbosa, Cetic.br, Head of the Center of Studies for Information and Communications Technologies/Gianluca Misuraca, AI4Gov, Executive Director of the Master on Artificial Intelligence in public services and founder and Vice President on Technology Diplomacy and International Relations of Inspiring Futures (IF)/ Alain Ndayishimiye, C4IR Rwanda, Project Lead AI/ML/ Miriam Stankovich, DAI, Principal Digital Policy Specialist, Center for Digital Acceleration / Joanne Dcunha, Centre for Communication Governance at NLU Delhi, Programme Officer with the Technology and Society team/ Jonathan Gonzalez, Access Partnerships, Senior Policy Manager, Global Government Advisory/ Prof. Dr. Zhu Liming, Director Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Australia Government Agency/ Daniel O'Maley, Senior Digital Governance Specialist, Center for International Media Assistance / and many others to be confirmed
Prateek Sibal, Programme specialist Digital Innovation and Transformation, UNESCO
Gaurav Sharma, Advisor on AI, FAIR Forward: AI for All”, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
Targets: First, it aligns with SDG 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure. The Open Forum focuses on empowering civil servants with digital transformation-related competencies, enabling them to leverage digital tools and create data-supported insights. By enhancing their digital skills, governments can build robust digital infrastructures and foster innovation within public administrations, contributing to the advancement of SDG 9. Secondly, the session is relevant to SDG 5: Gender Equality. It explores how digital capacity-building programs can strengthen gender equality in public administrations. By ensuring equal access to digital skills and creating an enabling environment for gender-transformative digital policies, the workshop aims to promote gender equality and inclusivity within government institutions. Furthermore, the session contributes to SDG 4: Quality Education. By upskilling civil servants with digital competencies, the session supports the provision of quality education and training opportunities. By empowering civil servants with the necessary skills for digital transformation, governments can enhance their capacity to provide better services to citizens and foster an inclusive learning environment. The panel also contributes to SDG 16 by equipping public administrations with the necessary skills and tools for digital transformation, governments can enhance the efficiency, transparency, and accountability of their institutions. This, in turn, promotes good governance, strengthens the rule of law, and fosters inclusive and participatory decision-making processes, all of which are integral to achieving SDG 16. Lastly, the session also supports SDG 17 by strengthening the Dynamic Coalition for Digital Capacity Building. It promotes collaboration, knowledge sharing, and partnerships to implement digital capacity-building programs for governments. The outputs contribute to UNESCO's initiatives for international cooperation and achieving the SDGs.
Establishing a multi-stakeholder platform like the UNESCO Dynamic Coalition (DC)
Session Report: UNESCO Open Forum on Capacity Building for Civil Servants in Digital Transformation
Date: 10 October 2023, byUNESCO and GIZ's Fair Forward Team
The open forum on capacity building for civil servants in the context of digital transformation, jointly organized by UNESCO and GIZ's Fair Forward team, brought together a diverse group of experts from around the world. The primary goal of this session was to facilitate an open dialogue and knowledge exchange among participants to explore the possibility of establishing a Dynamic coalition for sharing best practices in capacity building initiatives. The session also aimed to develop a group – with this DC – to develop new content and knowledge products that could be leveraged by organizations and partners globally to support governments in their digital transformation efforts.
The Open Forum aimed to:
Convene a Network of Digital Leaders: The primary objective was to bring together a diverse network of digital leaders, including experts and stakeholders deeply engaged in dialogues centered on capacity building initiatives and best practices for digital transformation among civil servants.
Interactive Discussion and Examination: The session intended to facilitate interactive discussions and examinations of the challenges, requirements, and solutions related to digital capacity building as articulated by the stakeholders.
Development and Reinforcement of a Dynamic Coalition: The goal was to develop and reinforce the scope, membership, and roadmap of the Dynamic Coalition. This coalition was envisioned to serve as a catalyst for global discussions and the dissemination of best practices in digital transformation and capacity building for civil servants, grounded in real-world examples.
The participants around the table represented a diverse group of global stakeholders, including governments, civil society, intergovernmental organizations, academia, the private and tech sectors, civil servants, media, and more. The session was formally opened by a Keynote Address from Japanese Government Representative and by a representative of AI4Gov, emphasizing the importance of capacity building and technology challenges faced by the government. Several challenges were highlighted, including network connectivity issues with platforms like Zoom, procurement challenges related to technology, varying levels of tech proficiency within the government workforce, the adoption of AI with its associated risks, and the preference for on-premise data services over cloud solutions, with the Japanese government expressing appreciation for UNESCO's capacity building efforts. The discussion was a very high-level and dynamic discussion among various stakeholders all
The session successfully initiated a dialogue and highlighted the pressing need for addressing the challenges posed by digital transformation. The importance of forming a sustainable coalition, sharing best practices, creating knowledge products, and supporting governments in their digital transformation journey was emphasized.
In conclusion, the session underscored the importance of addressing the multifaceted challenges and opportunities in digital capacity building for civil servants. The range of discussion topics explored, including sharing best practices, fostering interagency collaboration, establishing digital skill frameworks, and engaging in public-private partnerships, emphasized the need for a collective and holistic approach. Inclusivity, impact measurement, effective governance, and the role of digital leadership were integral components of the dialogue, highlighting the comprehensive nature of capacity building efforts. Resource allocation and international collaboration emerged as critical considerations, while the cultivation of a digital culture within government organizations was recognized as a key driver for success. Acknowledging challenges and formulating solutions, as well as the importance of government-wide strategies, data security, and stakeholder engagement, contributed to a robust framework for advancing digital capacity building among civil servants. These discussions set the stage for continued collaboration and knowledge sharing among stakeholders committed to enhancing the digital preparedness of government institutions.
As a next step, participants were encouraged to collaborate and explore the formation of a coalition that can effectively address these challenges and support governments worldwide. The session concluded with a call to action for participants to work together to achieve these objectives and ensure civil servants are prepared for the digital age.