HIGH LEVEL PLENARY: Investing in digital growth and enabling capacities – transnational and transcontinental synergies "Tuesday 7 December 12.20 - 13.20 CET"


Digital transformation is a complex process that carries enormous potential for human development and economic growth but is not free of challenges. A combination of factors includes but is not limited to: Micro Small Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) funding possibilities and adequate regulatory frameworks, digitalisation of business and industrial processes, efficient and affordable infrastructure availability, inclusive digital literacy, continuous perfecting of digital skills, and user-centric e-services governance.  

The discussion will focus on ways to nurture synergy-driven digital cooperation and growth. Analysis of large volumes of data, including big data – generated from myriad transactions, production and communication processes – is accelerating knowledge and value creation across society to unforeseen levels. Data-driven innovation (DDI) refers to significant improvement of existing products, processes, organisational methods and markets emerging from this phenomenon, or the development of new ones. At the same time, we should also be aware of the need to cooperate to avoid risks arising from lack of governance mechanisms, and to ensure a use of DDI that is human-centric and respects human rights.

Emphasis will also be given to start-ups, as well as micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), as they play an extremely important role in digital transformation. One of the crucial issues is funding: high-tech start-ups find it difficult to scale up capital to fully capture the growing demand for their products and services. To tackle this, the discussion should explore co-investment models that involve cooperation between domestic and foreign venture capital sponsors that support those values. This allows risk mitigation for negative impacts on users’ rights, portfolio diversification in investments across jurisdictions, and fostering of new innovative business models better aligned with the exercise of users’ rights as well as access to smart-funding opportunities.

Mr. Henri Verdier

Henri Verdier was born in 1968. Currently, he is Ambassador for Digital Affairs for the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs. Previously, he was the interministerial director for digital information and communications systems (DG Dinsic) of France; and director of Etalab, the French agency for public open data. Mr Verdier is also an entrepreneur: he was the co-founder and CEO of MFG Labs, an internet-based startup involved in social data mining, and chairman of the board of Cap Digital, the French-European Cluster for Digital Content and Services, located in Paris.

Ms. Maria Francesca Spatolisano

Maria-Francesca Spatolisano is the Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter- Agency Affairs, UN DESA since March 2019. At the beginning of February 2021, she was also appointed Officer-in Charge of the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology in her personal capacity. Ms. Spatolisano has 35 years of experience in public service including extensive senior leadership in multilateral affairs. She has served as the European Union Ambassador to the OECD and UNESCO, Monaco and Andorra.

Ms. Teresa Czerwińska

Teresa Czerwińska was appointed the Vice President of the European Investment Bank in March 2020. In this role, alongside looking after the constituency countries (Poland, Hungary, Croatia) she is responsible for Eastern Partnership countries as well as for Central Asia, China and Mongolia.