IGF 2018 WS #104 Well-being in the Digital Age (OECD Going Digital Project)


Panel - 90 Min


Sub-theme description: Well-being (encompassing health, the environment, work, safety, privacy, and digital security, among others).

Organizer 1: Molly Lesher, OECD
Organizer 2: Carlos da Fonseca, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Brazil
Organizer 3: Marc Rotenberg, Electronic Information Privacy Center (EPIC)
Organizer 4: Fabrice Murtin, OECD

Speaker 1: Mónica Aspe, Government, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 2: Makoto Yokozawa, Private Sector, Asia Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Carlos Fonseca, Government, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 4: Claire Milne, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Digital technologies have both positive and negative impacts on the overall well-being of people and communities, with heterogeneous effects across population groups, depending on age, gender, income level or skill-set. This workshop would help shed light on how policymakers can develop a whole-of-government policy framework that balances all of the different well-being dimensions of the digital transformation for people and society more broadly, with a focus developing a measurement framework for well-being in the digital age. This policy question has risen to the top of the global digital agenda because technologies continue to develop rapidly and are combining in novel and innovative ways, pushing digital transformation in new and often unpredictable directions. On-going work under the OECD Going Digital project (see below) focuses on the opportunities and challenges of digital transformation for people’s well-being. The Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission has emphasised that economic growth is a means to enhance people’s well-being and not an end in itself. Likewise, digital transformation should not only bring about progress via intelligent and autonomous technologies, but also operate in conformity with human values, in particular fairness, to enhance people’s well-being. The OECD's Well-being Framework provides a good starting point to examine the impacts of digital transformation on people’s well-being because of its multidimensional nature. Preliminary findings from on-going OECD work suggest that designing appropriate policies becomes increasingly complicated as the digital transformation of economies and societies involves a radical change in how people live, work and interact. For example, growing pressures to compete with machines in the workplace; the use of algorithms and digital platforms enabling patient-managed healthcare and more efficient service delivery, but also related ethical risks and privacy concerns; and the impacts of automation on adolescents’ development and human relations, all illustrate how the new digital context affects the drivers of individuals’ well-being. In particular, better empirical evidence about large-scale data breaches and improper data collection and sharing with a range of different actors would help quantify this problem with a view to helping governments find constructive solutions to ensuring the well-being of its citizens. In January 2017, the OECD launched Going Digital: Making the Transformation Work for Growth and Well-being (the Going Digital project). The project aims to help policymakers better understand the digital transformation that is taking place and create a policy environment that enables their economies and societies to prosper in a world that is increasingly digital and data-driven. The work on well-being is one component of this broader project: www.oecd.org/going-digital.

Session Content: 

The impact of digital technologies on well-being is in many cases still uncharted territory for policy-makers. This workshop would inform participants about the well-being component of the Going Digital project and seek feedback on the mapping of the related changes in society and the associated policy responses. I. Opening and overview of the OECD Going Digital work on well-being (10 minutes, Fabrice Murtin, moderator, OECD) III. Stakeholder perspectives on fostering well-being in the digital age (30 minutes) ● The Brazilian perspective, Carlos da Fonseca, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Brazil (6 minutes) ● The Korean perspective, Wonki Min, Leading Professor, SUNY Korea Department of Technology & Society (6 minutes) ● The civil society perspective, Marc Rotenberg, EPIC (6 minutes) ● Views from the Internet technical community, Constance Bommelaer, ISOC (6 minutes) ● Views from business, Carolyn Nguyen, Microsoft (6 minutes) IV. Open discussion among participants and panelists (45 minutes) V. Closing (Fabrice Murtin, OECD, 5 minutes).


The speakers will be invited to structure their interventions by responding to the following two questions: 1. What do you see as the three most important aspects for policymakers to consider when developing a digital policy framework to foster well-being for people and communities? 2. It is clear that there are both positive and negative impacts of digital technologies on the well-being of people and communities. How can policymakers best assess and manage the trade-offs? Given that we have a diverse range of perspectives on the panel (economists, lawyers, technologists, and current and former government officials from developing and developed countries), they should all bring a unique perspective to trying to help further develop an understanding on how to foster individual and societal well-being in the digital age. We will also identify several youth experts to intervene from the floor and/or online.


There are 4 women (Molly Lesher, Angela Attrey, Mónica Aspe and Claire Milne) and 4 men (Fabrice Murtin, Carlos da Fonseca and Makoto Yokozama) involved in the workshop. 5 different stakeholder groups are represented: governments (Brazil, Korea), intergovernmental organisations (OECD), civil society (Electronic Privacy Information Center), Internet technical community (The Internet Society), and business (Microsoft). 4 regions are represented: Asia-Pacific (Korea, Australia), Latin America (Brazil), Europe (France), and North America (United States). A range of different policy perspectives are represented, including economists (Fabrice Murtin, Molly Lesher), lawyers (Marc Rotenberg), civil society (Claire Milne), and current and former government officials (Carlos da Fonseca and Mónica Aspe). If the workshop proposal is accepted, we will reach out to individuals on the Youth Expert List 2018 to invite several youth experts to participate actively in the workshop from the floor. In addition, the on-line moderator is a youth working on digital economy issues (24 years old).

Online Participation: 

The OECD will provide a trained online moderator to ensure that the workshop offers remote participation online, including by allowing for one online participant to intervene after every intervention by an in-person attendee. The online moderator will be in direct contact with the moderator in the room so adaptations can take place in a timely fashion. Before the workshop, the session will be promoted by all of the co-organisers (OECD, EPIC, Brazil) to try to encourage online participation.

Discussion Facilitation: 

The use of the 2 discussion questions indicated above should help facilitate focused interventions from the speakers; they will also be useful as a means to engage with the audience, in person and on-line. Half of the session is dedicated to audience participation (in person and online), and it is expected that there will be a lively debate. Active participation from youth experts will be encouraged prior to the workshop. To the extent that the moderator needs to spur discussion, another discussion question directed to the audience will be used, such as: What aspects of well-being cannot be quantified -- at least not today -- and how would you go about addressing these policy issues from an evidence-based approach?

Onsite Moderator: 

Molly Lesher

Online Moderator: 

Angela Attrey


Molly Lesher


- Session Type (Workshop, Open Forum, etc.): 



- Title:

Well-being in the Digital Age (OECD Going Digital Project)


- Date & Time:

12 November, 10:30-12:00


- Organizer(s):

Molly Lesher, Carlos da Fonseca and Marc Rotenberg


- Chair/Moderator:

Molly Lesher


- Rapporteur/Notetaker:

Molly Lesher


- List of speakers and their institutional affiliations (Indicate male/female/ transgender male/ transgender female/gender variant/prefer not to answer):

  • Speaker 1: Fabrice Murtin, OECD (male)
  • Speaker 2: Molly Lesher, OECD (female)
  • Speaker 3: Mónica Aspé, Ambassador of Mexico to the OECD (female)
  • Speaker 4: Carlos da Fonseca, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Brazil (male)
  • Speaker 5: Claire Milne, Antelope Consulting (female)
  • Speaker 6: Valeria Milanes, Civil Society Information Society Advisory Council (female)
  • Speaker 7: Makoto Yokozawa, Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (male)
  • Speaker 8: Katie Watson, Internet Society, The Internet Society (female)


- Theme (as listed here):

Development, Innovation & Economic Issues


- Subtheme (as listed here):

Internet & the Environment; Internet for Development & SDGs


- Please state no more than three (3) key messages of the discussion. [150 words or less]

  • Connectivity underpins a positive and inclusive digital transformation.
  • Three issues were identified as being critical to promoting well-being in a technology rich environment: skills, trust and quality work.
  • The multi-stakeholder model is essential to ensuring well-being in the digital age.


- Please elaborate on the discussion held, specifically on areas of agreement and divergence. [150 words]

Well-being in the digital age is multi-faceted, and has varying ramifications for individuals and groups. In particular, differences in (quality) access and connectivity persist across geography, while other factors like gender, age, income and level of education are often significant in determining the confident use of digital technologies. While many issues were mentioned, three stood out as being essential to ensuring well-being in the digital age. First, skills were identified as one of the keys to ensuring that digital transformation is positive and inclusive. Second, trust – including privacy, security, consumer protection – was identified as another important aspect of making digital transformation work for well-being. Third, quality work was noted as critical to promoting well-being in a technology-rich environment. A variety of stakeholders have a role to play in the formation of a digital transformation that delivers a good life to all. In particular, ensuring that actors from bodies with diverse interests, from civil society to the business community, can help to ensure that policies are made with a view to their diverse and diffuse impacts.



- Please describe any policy recommendations or suggestions regarding the way forward/potential next steps. [100 words]

The panellists noted the need to expand access to digital technologies to all aspects of society, including rural and remote communities and those in the developing world. However, the panellists noted that the benefits of digital technologies come from their use, which are often predicated on holding digital skills. The need to improve trust in the digital economy was also mentioned as essential in order to unlock the benefits of the digital transformation. In this regard, a multi-stakeholder approach that includes the public and private sectors may be needed to respond to concerns and pave the way ahead.


- What ideas surfaced in the discussion with respect to how the IGF ecosystem might make progress on this issue? [75 words]

The panellists repeatedly mentioned the need to include many diverse communities and perspectives in the digital policymaking process, and affirmed the role of the multi-stakeholder process. To this end, the IGF eco-system can help to foster discussion and come to agreement on the cross-cutting issues associated with well-being in the digital age, including digital skills, digital risk management and more. 


- Please estimate the total number of participants.



- Please estimate the total number of women and gender-variant individuals present.

20 (approximately 40%)


- To what extent did the session discuss gender issues, and if to any extent, what was the discussion? [100 words]

The panellists underscored gender as a significant dimension that determines access to and the use of digital technologies, and noted that the digital gender divide constituted a major risk for well-being in the digital age. Other particular gender issues were discussed, including that men tend to work longer hours in digital intensive jobs than women. Conversely, however, it was also mentioned that digital transformation allows more women to access and leverage digital skills than ever before.

Session Time: 
Monday, 12 November, 2018 - 10:30 to 12:00
Salle XI

Contact Information

United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 678