Scaling up Digital Public Infrastructure and Digital Public Goods to accelerate the SDGs

Statement delivered by Haoliang Xu at the High-Level Political Forum event - Accelerating Achievement of the SDGs and Climate Action through Digital Public Infrastructure and Digital Public Goods

July 18, 2023

Thank you very much Honorable Ministers. 

Let me offer a few perspectives. The world is facing interconnected and complex challenges. The world is not on track to achieve the SDGs by 2030. 

Ongoing crises – COVID, conflict, and economic setbacks – have stalled or reversed progress on the SDGs, and issues like climate change are affecting every country and community in the world. 

Fortunately, at UNDP we believe that Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) and Digital Public Goods (DPGs) can help address the most pressing challenges of our time.   

DPI and DPGs are remarkably well suited to the complexities of these challenges. 

DPI – technologies, standards and systems - can distribute the ability to solve complex challenges. And DPGs allow countries to accelerate the establishment of DPI and can quickly foster the utilization of digital solutions for complex challenges at scale. 

By design, DPGs are adaptable, interoperable, scalable, and grounded in a spirit of collaboration.

Let me share a couple of examples: 

We are honored that the Minister of Singapore is here. We’re fortunate to have a strong collaboration, particularly through a Centre for Technology, Innovation and Sustainable Development, jointly established by the Government of Singapore and UNDP, that is capitalizing on the ecosystem that Singapore is providing. 

UNDP has been working closely with the Government of Singapore to support the accreditation of several of Singapore’s digital initiatives as DPGs, making them available to all countries.

We are also very happy that UNDP is an official knowledge partner on DPI for the India G20 Presidency. An important element of this work has been the launch of the One Future Alliance & Fund - a global initiative to synergize, shape, architect and design the future of DPI. 

We worked together with UNFCCC, World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to develop an adaptable, open-source codebase of National Climate Transparency Systems as a DPG. 

This leverages UNDP’s Climate Promise that supported over 125 countries to develop NDCs to assist countries to enhance transparency, monitoring, reporting, and verification of climate efforts.

As time is short, I’ll mention a few takeaways: 

First, solutions are available. Rwanda provided a perfect case. India showcased many successful solutions. Many countries who are not here have solutions that scale. Solutions exist. 

The challenge now is how to scale them up across the board and take advantage of DPI and DPGs.

This requires leveraging and investing in the public systems – core data standards, protocols, and data systems – upon which innovation can take place. And another key area is training, capacity building. 

When it comes to digital solutions it’s always about financing, technology and capacity. 

And lastly, we are developing a mechanism to engage and utilize – at scale -  the capacity that exists within Member States which could be an important step to fully harnessing the potential that DPI and DPGs hold.  

We welcome the opportunity to work with partners, such those here today, to ensure that all countries have the tools they need to achieve the SDGs and address the climate crisis. 

Thank you.