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UN chief appoints Jack Ma, Melinda Gates to co-chair new panel on digital cooperation

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-07-13 12:59
Jack Ma, founder and chairman of China's e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, attends a plenary session on E-Commerce during the 48th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan 24, 2018. [Photo/Xinhua]

UNITED NATIONS - UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Thursday announced the launch of a High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation, appointing Jack Ma of Alibaba Group and Melinda Gates of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to co-chair it.

"The scale, spread and speed of change made possible by digital technologies is unprecedented, but the current means and levels of international cooperation are unequal to the challenge," Guterres said.

In addition, he noted digital technologies make a significant contribution to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda, and that "they cut uniquely across injjkkternational boundaries."

Melinda Gates, left, wife of Microsoft founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates, shakes hands with Indian Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Jagat Prakash Nadda in New Delhi, India, on April 20, 2015. [Photo/XInhua]

Therefore, the UN chief said cooperation across domains and across borders is critical to realizing the full social and economic potential of digital technologies as well as mitigating the risks that they pose and curtailing any unintended consequences."

Jack Ma, executive chairman of Alibaba Group, and Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, have been appointed by the secretary-general as co-chairs of the panel.

"In this digital era, data and technology are more broadly available, enabling entrepreneurialism, economic growth, and improved quality of life for those who have the access and training to leverage it. Global, cross-sector collaboration is critical to ensure the benefits of the digital era are possible for all," said Jack Ma.

"If all people, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, have equal access to digital technology, they will use it to improve life for themselves and their families and raise their voices in conversations about what the future holds. Enabling this wide scale empowerment is what this panel is about," said Melinda Gates.

The panel has a total of 20 members, representing a cross-section of expertise from government, private industry, civil society, academia and the technical community.

Guterres has asked the panel to contribute to the public debate on the importance of cooperative and interdisciplinary approaches to ensure a safe and inclusive digital future for all, taking into account relevant human rights norms.

The panel is expected to identify policy, research and information gaps, and make proposals to strengthen international cooperation in the digital space.

It will hold its first in-person meeting in late September 2018 and is expected to submit its final report to the secretary-general within 9 months.

In carrying out its work, the panel will undertake a wide range of public consultations, including at least two public events and an open process inviting global inputs starting in September. It will be supported by a small secretariat funded by donor resources and based in New York and Geneva.

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