It is undeniable that the pandemic has brought us closer to the digital world. Information and communication technologies have been key to maintaining social contact during quarantines, preventing infections, meeting health needs, and facilitating the production and circulation of information of public interest. In turn, they have allowed us to continue with our education and
The pandemic has reinforced the role of ICTs and highlighted their centrality in all aspects of daily life. Certainly, the access, connection and appropriation of ICTs are an essential platform to access and exercise other fundamental rights and, above all, to ensure social inclusion.
We are facing a unique opportunity to rebuild our societies and economies. As a political, economic and socio-cultural challenge, this opportunity is an unavoidable chapter in digital technologies. As G20 members we must exercise the responsibility of promoting innovation and digitalisation in constructing a more equal, resilient and inclusive world.
Digital technologies must be at the service of this task to contribute to the solution of current global challenges, such as climate change, poverty and inequality, and aid us in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.
In this context of digital preponderance, however, the goal of universal connectivity by 2025 still seems a long way off. The International Telecommunications Union indicates that 37% of the world’s population is not connected to the internet. In Argentina, more than 10% of the population does not have access to the internet, and many households lack fixed connections, resulting in lower-quality connectivity.
The digital divide
In developing countries, socio-economic factors affect access and the possibility of making full use of these technologies. According to the ITU, in 2020 the proportion of households with internet access in developing countries was 57%, while in developed countries it was 87%. Therefore, the G20 must recognise the digital divide and the particular situation of each country. The pandemic further exposed inequalities between people and social groups, whether for socio-economic, gender, age or geographic reasons.
It is necessary that our public policies focus on people. We must provide the tools for access and participation with digital technologies to guarantee decent education and decent work. It is our responsibility to use ICTs as a means for social inclusion. In the same way, we must make every possible effort to reduce the digital gender gap, and thus achieve fairer, more equitable and prosperous societies.
The territorial dimension is another factor that our governments must take into account. Many of us are faced with the task of connecting all our vast territories. If we do not address the needs of our rural and remote areas, inclusion will never become a reality. Addressing connectivity and digital divide policies from a federal perspective must be the basis of our work.
A platform to the future
Digitalisation is a platform towards the future – towards equity, the inclusion of relegated groups and the full exercise of human rights. It will lead us to more open, transparent and dynamic governments, effective and capable of responding to the needs of an increasingly complex and changing society, and it will bring us closer to our citizens.
Individual efforts are not enough. We need everyone – governments, the private sector, academia and civil society – to start working for a fairer world that leaves no one behind. The G20 must deepen its role as a forum for dialogue and cooperation, bringing together all these actors and enhancing their actions so that the digital transformation we are going through can secure social inclusion.