Welcome speech of the UNDP Belarus Resident Representative Alexandra Solovieva at TIBO-2022
Posted June 6, 2022
Dear participants of the Forum,
I am pleased to welcome you on behalf of the United Nations Development Programme in the Republic of Belarus.
The world faces increasingly complex and interconnected challenges. The achievement of essential priorities such as elimination of poverty and inequality, sustainable nature resources management and conflict prevention require joint action and innovative methods. New digital technologies, without a doubt, are one of them. On the one hand, they provide broad opportunities for positive transformation of the economy and the society. On the other hand, if such technologies are not used ethically, deliberately, and openly, if they do not create equal opportunities for all - they pose risks. Global discussions on the use of artificial intelligence for the public good need to be more representative and inclusive.
Working on the ground in 170 countries, UNDP supports digitalization as an enabling factor for implementing integrated solutions driven by the needs of the countries in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Over 55 years, of which 30 years of working here in Belarus, UNDP has gained a significant experience in helping the national partners to develop and implement innovative solutions.
These solutions help to increase the livelihoods of the poor, improve access to services and information, conserve natural resources, and strengthen community resilience in response to climate change, natural disasters and pandemics. A network of acceleration laboratories covering 115 countries was established as a network for knowledge and experience sharing, for scaling up promising local solutions. UNDP's global Data Futures Platform provides cross-sectoral data and expertise in spheres like health, social security, economic recovery and investments.
The benefits that the digital age brings to people lie at the heart of our digital strategy. Technology has to be affordable to everyone, improve lives and strengthen the human potential. In parallel, it is critical to mitigate the risks that come along with the digitization, such as cybersecurity, fake information, and data privacy.
Worldwide digital technologies are distributed unevenly – both between and within countries - by gender, nationality and socio-economic status. Also, the benefits from the use of digital technologies are distributed unevenly. The digital divide persists. Almost 87% of people in developed countries were connected in 2019, and just 19% in the least developed countries. Achieving real and sustainable progress in various aspects of digitalization requires skills development and effective training. UNDP and the International Telecommunication Union are joining efforts to strengthen digital capacity.
In the space of just one year, UNDP adopted over 580 digital solutions in 82 countries in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We helped accelerate the digitalization of payments, helped governments to institutionalize contactless transactions, and foster digital service delivery, supported online trainings and meetings, and helped introduce non-medical robots for COVID-19 red zones in hospitals. For instance, in India UNDP developed the eVIN app for cloud technologies and smartphones, which during the pandemic helped to ensure smooth and timely supply of vaccines to healthcare facilities, including remote and hard-to-reach areas. In Vietnam, we facilitated development of a mobile app for the elderly people, allowing them to quickly access online health services, including psychological support, from institutions in several ASEAN countries. Speaking about the CIS countries, it is worth mentioning online educational platforms for students and teachers, online courses for healthcare professionals and more.
Here in Belarus, the UNDP supported digital solutions are already helping to exchange business practices, search for business partners, expand possibilities for distance learning, boost digital literacy, environmental skills, and develop green urban infrastructure. We are ready to provide additional support on improving the access of youth and small businesses to digital specializations required on the modern markets, ensuring the affordability of digital services for elderly people by working with the national ministries.
I would like to emphasize that people, their well-being and potential are at the heart of our digital strategy in Belarus. There is a good understanding in Belarus of the importance of digitalization for development in terms of creation of new jobs, products and services, increase in labor productivity. Working together with the International Telecommunication Union, the United Nations Population Fund, the United Nations International Children's Fund and other UN agencies, UNDP complements national efforts in digital transformation to advance equality of opportunity for all, especially for vulnerable groups.
Multilateral digital cooperation, digital security and the use of global digital tools require equal participation of all countries and partners.
On behalf of the UNDP team, I invite all guests to visit our joint stand at TIBO-2022 Expo where we present digital solutions, implemented in Belarus across five areas:
- ecological tourism,
- smart cities,
- support of social initiatives.
I wish you all productive work and thank you for your attention.