The aim of the Digital Public Goods Alliance and Platform is to help accelerate attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals in low- and middle-income countries. The Alliance and Platform facilitates the discovery, development, use of, and investment in, openly licensed technologies, data models, and content of high relevance for attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Digital Public Goods
The UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation, in its report published on June 10th 2019, recommends “that a broad, multi-stakeholder alliance, involving the UN, create a platform for sharing digital public goods, engaging talent and pooling data sets, in a manner that respects privacy, in areas related to attaining the SDGs”.
We define Digital Public Goods as open source software, open data, open AI models, open standards and open content that adhere to privacy and other applicable best practices, do no harm and are of high relevance for attainment of the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
As part of the COVID-19 response, the DPG Alliance is committed to accelerating support to and scale up of digital solutions that support the prevention and response to COVID-19 and help young people and their communities continue learning and working.
The Alliance will prioritize technical and financial support for the deployment of Digital Public Goods in the following areas:
- Foundational literacy and other learning resources and platforms
- Job skills
- Financial services and inclusion
The Alliance can provide seed funding and support through the UNICEF Venture Fund for local companies and initiatives to look at future job skills, entrepreneurship, and fintech to prepare for the rebuilding after COVID-19. See www.unicefinnovationfund.org for eligibility criteria and further details.
Digital Public Goods Platform
“There is currently no “go to” place for discovering, engaging with, building, and investing in digital public goods…such a platform could create great value by enabling the sharing and adaptation of digital technologies and content across countries in a wider range of areas relevant to achieving the SDGs”.Report of the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation
The development of this platform includes building a “storefront” for digital public goods, supporting work across all of the Sustainable Development Goals, and working with a variety of stakeholders to develop definitions, criteria, and governance and financing mechanisms.
“Many types of digital technologies and content – from data to apps, data visualisation tools to educational curricula – could accelerate achievement of the SDGs. When they are freely and openly available, with minimal restrictions on how they can be distributed, adapted and reused, we can think of them as “digital public goods”. In economics, a “public good” is something which anyone can use without charge and without preventing others from using it. Digital content and technologies lend themselves to being public goods in this respect.”Report of the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation
This guidance necessitates that software, content and data must be possible to use independently of any particular vendor to be considered as digital public goods. Open licensing is a necessary, albeit not always sufficient, precondition for ensuring this. The minimum criteria for digital public goods also include other aspects, such as interoperability.
Note on Connectivity
Being connected to the Internet is vital for the organization and distribution of digital public goods. If there is no connectivity, there is no digital, and, reversely, digital access has limited value without access to relevant content. However, nearly half the world’s population is still not using the internet and remain disconnected from digital products and information that could dramatically improve their lives. The UN Secretary General’s High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation highlights issues around connectivity.