Digital Innovation and South-South Cooperation: Driving Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific
In today’s interconnected world, digital innovation has emerged as a powerful catalyst for sustainable development. Nowhere is this more evident than in Asia and the Pacific, a region characterized by its diverse cultures, economies, and development challenges. Digital technologies empower countries to address developmental challenges by bridging connectivity gaps, fostering economic growth and job creation, promoting resilient infrastructure and smart cities, enabling data-driven decision making and governance, and supporting climate action and environmental sustainability.
Leveraging digital technologies through partnerships holds immense potential for countries in the region to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within the limited time frame of the remaining implementation years of the 2030 Agenda, creating inclusive, technologically advanced, and sustainable societies in the region.
The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with economic, social and environmental uncertainties, has increased digital divides and development inequalities in the Asia-Pacific region. A common feature of the regional experience is that digital readiness, universal broadband connectivity and digital capacity have played central roles in addressing the devastating socio-economic impacts and preparing for building back better with enhanced resilience. While digitally connected and well-prepared countries are recovering from the crisis, an uneven global economic recovery only aggravates pre-existing inequalities, affecting the poorest and most vulnerable. In this context, South-South cooperation offers developing countries a unique opportunity to advance their development by facilitating the exchange of knowledge, resources, and experiences among countries facing similar challenges, promoting mutual learning and collaboration for sustainable progress.
ESCAP provides a regional platform to facilitate South-South and triangular cooperation among its 62 member States and associate members to address development challenges and harness opportunities. Historically, ESCAP’s South-South and triangular cooperation activities helped shape its technical assistance programmes, informed its research and analysis, and underpinned its intergovernmental and consensus building work.
One of the centrepieces of ESCAP’s South-South and triangular cooperation work is its Asia-Pacific Directors General Forum for South-South and Triangular Cooperation (Asia-Pacific DG Forum), supported by UNOSSC. Leading-up to the Second High-Level UN Conference on South-South Cooperation (BAPA+40), ESCAP jointly established the Asia-Pacific DG Forum with the Government of Thailand and UNOSSC in June 2018. Every year, the Forum brings together the heads of development cooperation and South-South cooperation agencies and units of ESCAP member States to share experiences, good practices, and provide a venue for facilitating collaboration on issues related to South-South and triangular cooperation.
In preparation for the upcoming 80th session of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific which is foreseen to take place in April 2024, and in alignment with its theme topic of “Leveraging digital innovation for sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific”, the fifth Asia-Pacific DG Forum will focus on showcasing best practices, research advances, and digital innovation solutions, presenting concrete examples that could be expanded and replicated in other countries in the Asia-Pacific region, paving the way for inclusive growth and sustainable development in the digital era through South-South cooperation.
Strategy and Programme Management Division
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