2. Bridge the digital divide

This standard is linked to the following Principle for Digital Development: Design With the User.

Digital solutions can bring positive change and opportunities. Yet even with the best intentions, your solution is likely to exclude certain people. To Leave No One Behind, it’s vital to understand what barriers exist to accessing digital solutions. 

To build inclusive digital services, be intentional about tackling the digital divide, and follow accessibility best practices. Be aware of your own bias, solutions co-created with the people and communities help us meet our shared objectives.     

Understand who is affected by the digital divide and what barriers exist in your country and context. The following groups are more likely to be excluded: Women, Children, Elderly, Demobilised military, Persons with disabilities , Migrants, IDPs, refugees, and stateless persons, Informal sector workers, Indigenous people, Lesbian, bisexual, gay, transsexual, and intersex, Ethnic, caste, and religious minorities, Unattached youth (NEETs) and Rural residents.

Remember, the digital divide is not just about differing levels of internet access. It also encompasses:

  • Affordability
  • Safety
  • Access to devices & availability of infrastructure
  • Digital literacy and skills
  • Social norms that inhibit some people from using digital solutions
  • Literacy and language barriers
  • Etc.

No single digital solution can close the digital divide. Its causes are often complex and systemic and can’t be solved by technology alone. But UNDP’s digital solutions should exemplify how good design can help.

Specify which barriers are most relevant to your goal and context—plan to tackle them intentionally. Be ambitious, set targets, and measure disaggregated data to measure how you are doing.



  • Speak to people from groups more likely to be excluded
  • Build for low literacy when possible by using visual signals and illustrative content instead of heavy text
  • Observe real people using an early version of the solution to make sure it’s accessible
  • Consider barriers and pain points where users might be excluded and work out how to address them
  • Look at examples of when similar digital solutions have excluded people — and why
  • Research the digital divide, and prioritize which barriers are most important in your context 
  • Create a plan to tackle the digital divide and set measurable targets proactively 
  • Regularly review if your solution is unintentionally excluding people, and make sure someone (usually the product owner) is accountable for addressing them 
  • Localize your application by translating into local languages
  • When working with the government, encourage a whole-of-government approach (vs. building for one sector/ministry only).


  • Design for yourself
  • Assume the solution will work for everyone
  • Continue without honest discussions about how you’ll address potential risks of exclusion



UN Resources: 


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Case Studies.

  • Digital Technologies to Empower Youth Living in Extreme Poverty Watch how ‘Life Project 4 Youth’ has been preparing young adults and women for their professional life by integrating digital technology into training programmes. Here, tackling digital divides means including digital training within programmes that aim to deliver economic empowerment.