As the world tries to find effective solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic, governments and businesses are becoming increasingly reliant on digital technologies to support their communities and citizens. Digital systems have become a lifeline for all businesses as well as health services, and serve as an essential building block within a larger framework of measures to contain the spread of the virus.
We, the B20 and S20 welcome the commitment of the G20 Leaders at the Extraordinary Summit on 26 March, “to do whatever it takes and to use all available policy tools to minimize the economic and social damage from the pandemic, restore global growth, maintain market stability, and strengthen resilience”, and “to work together to increase research and development funding for vaccines and medicines, leverage digital technologies, and strengthen scientific international cooperation.”
While digital technologies can significantly aid in containing the pandemic and minimizing the social and economic impacts, with special reference to women and men who are frontline health workers, self-employed and carers, the unfolding crisis will have a bearing on the global economy and reinforce the significance of the digital economy.
This requires a swift and coordinated response on a number of important policy issues across the entire spectrum of the digital domain. In this context, we collectively call on the G20 Leaders to act on the following:
monitoring is critically important, particularly in the context of epidemic forecasting and decision-making, and therefore, keeping the spread of the disease within reasonable limits. The G20 must create a trustworthy mechanism for nations to share data for the purpose of addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, while protecting the privacy of data owners whether individuals, corporations, or governments. The G20 must also explore how such intended purpose oriented regulation of data can be used in the future to harness the potential of digital technologies in addressing or preventing potential future crisis as well as eliminating existing gender biases in data sets and algorithms to mitigate the risk of exacerbation of inequalities. Such privacy protected data should be accessible to all stakeholders for appropriate use, including long term research.
mobile money adoption, the use of Digital Identities and DFS in general. In doing so, the G20 must ensure that the digitalization of payments adequately avoids security fraud and misuse as well as privacy violations, and that it does not exclude vulnerable populations, including women.
It is now the moment for countries to fast-track the digital transformation in an environmentally responsible manner. Only coordinated, collaborative and urgent efforts will minimize the social and economic impact of COVID-19, and shorten the time to revive the global economy in the post-pandemic phase.