Regional Conversation – Asia and Pacific: Future of Digital Transformation

Posted on March 2, 2021
Digital TransformationPhilippinesRBAPRockefeller Foundation

With the pandemic raging, thoughts about digital transformation and how best to bridge the digital divide have been at the forefront of many minds. Nowhere more so than in Asia, where nearly 52 percent of the region’s 4.3 billion people are offline.

To discuss this issue, we assembled an impressive group of panelists for the Asia and Pacific (RBAP): The Future of Digital Transformation session at IID today.

Mr. Achim Steiner, Administrator of the UNDP, was joined by Dr. Anna Roy, Senior Advisor NITI Aayog, India, Sushant Kumar, Principal, Responsible Technology, Omidyar Network, Mira Tayyiba, Deputy Asst. for Economic Competitiveness, Indonesia, Dr. Alethea de Guzman, Dept. of Health Epidemiology Bureau, Republic of the Philippines, and Kanni Wignaraja, Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant Administrator and Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, while Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Malaysia on Public Health chaired the session.

The panel discussed various post-pandemic digital transformation strategies that are already being designed and rolled out. They also touched on the importance—and potentially long-lasting effects—of these decisions with reference to the pace of development in various parts of Asia.

The focus of the discussion is summed up well in this quote from UNDP’s Mr. Achim Steiner,

“We have seen extraordinary things happen already in the lead up to 2020. But then, particularly through 2020, an explosion—both in terms of new approaches, but also scaling—and I think that scaling is particularly dramatic because it is going to redefine the future of virtually every aspect of development.”

Mr. Steiner added a complex question to the equation. One that many on the panel addressed from a regional perspective.

“How do we, as societies, shape a digital ecosystem that is characterized both by the possibilities and the opportunities, but also by notions that potentially define whether our societies advance together.”

In addition, the session also saw the announcement of an exciting new partnership between The Rockefeller Foundation and the Regional Innovation Center of the UNDP Asia-Pacific.

“I am excited about the partnership where UNDP is working with bureaucrats from India and the Philippines towards prototyping data-driven policies towards anticipatory governance models,” said Deepali Khanna, Managing Director for The Rockefeller Foundation, Asia Office. “We are also supporting the Pintig Lab Initiative [Philippines] through the Regional Innovation Center to harness data innovations for effective COVID-19 response and for addressing similar future crises.”

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