UNDP Highlights Successful Digital Transformation Strategies at the inaugural GovTech Congress

May 23, 2024
Photo: UNDP

For 59 years, UNDP has been synonymous with creating impact for people and planet.  

As new technologies emerge, UNDP sits at the forefront of driving, supporting, and safeguarding innovations so that people and planet can benefit from them.  

Between 21 to 22 May, UNDP shared some of these lessons in Madrid, Spain during the inaugural GovTech World Congress.

UNDP is the trusted global ecosystem broker to help governments and the private sector across the world to scale technologies that work for people and the planet.  This is why discussions with stakeholders attending the inaugural session of the GovTech World Congress were inspiring.

Below are some great examples of what GovTech agency has created with government partners:

  1. Create Jobs: One of the key ways to help a country grow is to create jobs. In Bhutan, the National GovTech Agency is building a culture of innovation across sectors and stimulating the local digital ecosystem. This has also involved positioning the Bhutanese digital talent to access international digital opportunities.
  2. Create Value for Money: Avoiding vendor-lock-in when government procures technology services is an important leverage to create value for money for governments. In Trinidad & Tobago, a Caribbean Small Island State, the Ministry of Digital Transformation is leveraging open source as a foundational strategy in order to avoid vendor lock-in and establish common frameworks across the government.  
  3. Digital ID: What would happen when different systems and ministries are able to share information seamlessly that is vested in trust and consent? Well, in Malawi, one of the first movers in the 50-in5 campaign, the country is deploying Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) safeguards creating more inclusive and safer use-cases of legal digital ID for improving financial inclusion, access to health services and so on.
  4. Drive Innovation: Uruguay is a leader in digital transformation in Latin America when it comes to GovTech. Their leadership in DPI Safeguards puts them at the frontier of digital transformation through their GovTech agency AGESIC. UNDP’s support in the way they design and frame their country's digital transformation is certainly one to look out for.
  5. Local Talent: The UNDP-ITU Open Source Ecosystem Enabler funded by the European Union is one of the steps we are taking to improve knowledge, coordinated actions, and strengthened local public and private actors’ capacities to support the adoption and creation of open-source for digital public services in two pilot countries. 

Ultimately, digital transformation is a change management process. It requires the government to host and drive the change. UNDP’s role is to support the government to enact the change.

Here are some ways that UNDP has done that in diverse partnerships in the 135 countries we work in:  

  1. Foster Collaboration: Everyone has a stake in the story of success. Getting the various actors to work together is key. UNDP does on-the-ground, neutral, orchestration that can bring different government and non-governmental actors together to plan and make decisions about shared systems.
  2. Talent Deployment: Change needs talent to implement the decisions that a country makes. UNDP supports partners to deploy senior strategic technical talent embedded in government to make critical decisions on vendor selection and management, IT architecture and recruitment.
  3. Interoperable Systems: Innovation requires systems that speak to each other.  Leveraging Digital Public Goods for required interoperability in solution design is essential to mitigate related vendor lock-in issues.  
  4. Develop Local Talent: While deploying short-term technical talent helps to kick-start the change, UNDP invests in long-term capacity building. In essence, helping a country to build structures that are people-centric and create value means also supporting local talent development so that they can carry forward the changes and sustain them in the long term.  
  5. Design for Scale and Mobilize resources:  Change needs investments. UNDP supports countries to increase national financing to invest and maintain foundational digital infrastructure versus point-to-point “apps and portals” that work in specific contexts only. Solutions have to be built to scale and designed with scale in mind.

I leave with renewed inspiration to work with our multilateral partners: UNDP, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), International Telecommunication Union ( ITU), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), CAF -Development Bank of Latin America and the Caribbean, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank discussed to take coordinated actions to quantify the economic and social impact of Digital Public Infrastructure. By gathering evidence of impact, Ministries of Finance and Multilateral Development Banks are able to pull the levers of financing that match the aspirations of more equitable societies.  

UNDP’s demand-driven work is ultimately about responding to countries’ needs and ensuring that all choices on technologies lead to development pathways, reduce market friction, and enable public-private innovations.  UNDP welcomes stakeholders to invest in UNDP as a venture space, where our long-term vision involves not just technology deployment but also a transformation in how societies engage with and benefit from digital public goods, ensuring that digitalization’s impact is deep, widespread, and enduring.