G20 Digital Economy Ministers Agree to Realize Digital Technologies


A ministerial meeting under the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's presidency of the Group to discuss harnessing digital technologies to realize opportunities of the 21st century for all


They issued the following Ministerial Declaration

1. Building on the achievements and commitments of past Presidencies, we, the G20 Ministers responsible for the digital economy, met on 22 July 2020 to discuss harnessing digital technologies to realize opportunities of the 21st century for all. In 2020, the G20 Digital Economy Task Force (DETF) brought together all G20 members as well as guest countries. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia also invited the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) as knowledge partners.

2. As our societies and the global economy digitalize, there are ever greater opportunities to advance standards of living through human-centric, data-driven, and evidence-based policy, increased economic competitiveness, higher-quality jobs, enhanced provision of public services in cities of all sizes and communities in remote and rural areas, and more inclusive societal participation of people from all backgrounds. Digitalization also poses challenges including how to bridge digital divides, and develop effective policies and strategies, that are innovative as well as agile, flexible, and adapted to the digital era, while addressing anti-competitive practices, safeguarding privacy, advancing security, building trust, and reducing inequalities. Digitalization is also increasing the importance of boosting job opportunities, increasing market access for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

We support fostering an open, fair, and non-discriminatory environment, protecting and empowering consumers, ensuring the safety and stability of supply chains in relevant areas, and advancing inclusiveness and human-centricity more broadly, noting the importance of the environmental impact of digitalization and introducing a gender lens. We continue to support international cooperation and multi-stakeholder engagement to design and implement evidence-based digital policies to address these challenges. We recognize that various countries have already taken steps with the intention of making policy approaches more flexible, holistic, and agile, for example through the use of regulatory sandboxes.

3. We stress the importance of the digital economy and policy discussions to sustain progress on the implementation and achievements of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

4. We recognize that universal, secure, and affordable connectivity is a fundamental enabler of the development of the digital economy and a catalyst for inclusive growth, innovation, and sustainable development. We recognize the importance of initiatives related to advancing digital connectivity infrastructure, digital skills and awareness, the affordability of Internet services and devices, closing the digital gender gap, and the relevance of digital content. We recognize the need to close the gaps in these areas and the importance of working with stakeholders to connect humanity by accelerating global Internet penetration, especially in remote and rural areas.

5. We emphasize the role of connectivity, digital technologies, and policies in accelerating our collaboration and response to the COVID-19 pandemic and enhancing our ability to prevent and mitigate future crises as stated in our Extraordinary Statement adopted on April 30, 2020. We note the Policy Options to Support Digitalization of Business Models during COVID-19, developed by the Saudi G20 Digital Economy Ministers Meeting Presidency, which shares policies and practices to strengthen business continuity and resilience consistent with national circumstances.

I. Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence

6. Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems have the potential to generate economic, social, and health benefits and innovation, drive inclusive economic growth, and reduce inequalities as well as accelerate progress toward the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They could also have potential impacts on the future of work, the functioning of critical systems, digital inclusiveness, security, trust, ethical issues, and human rights.

7. We reaffirm our commitment to promoting a human-centered approach to AI and support the G20 AI Principles, which are drawn from the OECD AI Principles – including section 1, Principles for Responsible Stewardship of Trustworthy AI, and section 2, the Recommendations on National Policies and International Cooperation for Trustworthy AI. We each commit to advance the G20 AI Principles, in accordance with national priorities.

8. As a first step, we note the Examples of National Policies to Advance the G20 AI Principles (Annex 1), which presents a list of examples of national strategies and policy approaches to advance the G20 AI Principles, including investment in research, human capacity, innovation, and trustworthiness.

9. We believe that there is a need for inclusive multi-stakeholder discussions and sharing of experiences on AI and related policy practices. We welcome the Dialogue hosted by the Saudi Presidency on trustworthy AI in pandemic response and note the Summary of Discussions from the G20 AI Dialogue in 2020. We promote continued multi-stakeholder discussions on AI, consistent with the G20 AI Principles.

II. Data Free Flow with Trust and Cross-Border Data Flows

10. In 2019, in Osaka, G20 Leaders acknowledged the importance of data free flow with trust and cross-border data flow and recognized the critical role played by effective use of data for digitalization, as enablers of economic growth, development, and social well-being, and expressed their willingness to cooperate to encourage the interoperability of different frameworks and reaffirmed the role of data for development.

11. The cross-border flow of data, information, ideas and knowledge generates higher productivity, greater innovation, and improved sustainable development. At the same time, we recognize that the free flow of data raises certain challenges, such as the protection of privacy and personal data. G20 members recognize the need to address these challenges, in accordance with relevant applicable legal
frameworks, which can further facilitate data free flow and strengthen consumer and business trust, without prejudice to legitimate public policy objectives by sharing experiences and good practices for data policy, in particular interoperability and transfer mechanisms, and identifying commonalities between existing approaches and instruments used to enable data to flow across borders with trust, reaffirming the importance of the interface between trade and digital economy, noting the ongoing negotiations under the Joint Statement Initiative on electronic commerce and reaffirming the importance of the Work Programme on electronic commerce at the WTO, exploring and better understanding technologies such as privacy enhancing technologies (PETs).

III. Smart Cities

12. Building on the achievements of past Presidencies, we encourage further work with stakeholders for the development and deployment of digital technologies and solutions for human-centric, environmentally sound, sustainable, rights-respecting, and inclusive smart cities and communities that boost competitiveness and enhance well-being and community resilience.
These digital solutions should be centered around connectivity and providing services in more efficient and personalized ways, while safeguarding human rights. These digital solutions should also be deployed responsibly with effective security and resilience in the digital economy to safeguard privacy, personal data, and service provision, and foster greater transparency and public trust. In this respect, we take note of the G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance initiative launched in 2019.

13. We recognize that smart mobility is one of the elements of a holistic approach to smart cities and communities, serving as a vital engine of innovation and investment, and that smart mobility data and technology solutions can address some of the challenges of smart cities and communities, potentially reducing inequality of access to cities’ services in an environmentally friendly way.

14. We welcome the G20 Smart Mobility Practices (Annex 2) to contribute to this work. Its purpose is to provide guidance and best practices regarding how to accelerate the diffusion of smart mobility systems in ways that are human-centric, inclusive, and sustainable, based on experiences and shared knowledge of G20 members and beyond.

15. We recognize the work of G20 members to facilitate smart mobility technology and digital infrastructure deployment, build the digital capacity of governments, promote interoperability, monitor the impacts of smart mobility including those on human rights, foster multi-stakeholder collaboration and partnership, and cultivate and promote digital inclusion.

16. Going forward, we recognize the importance of aligning work on smart cities with the G20 Infrastructure Working Group and advancing smart cities and communities’ approaches, in cooperation with local partners and other relevant social partners. We encourage the exploration of other elements of smart cities and communities beyond smart mobility.

IV. Measurement of the Digital Economy

17. Building on the work carried out under previous G20 Presidencies and following up on the draft 2018 G20 Toolkit for Measuring the Digital Economy, developed under the Argentine Presidency, we support advancing digital economy measurement.
Reinforced cooperation will help advance consistency across different approaches and enhance evidence-based policymaking to contribute to the realization of the opportunities of the 21st century for all.

18. We welcome the G20 Roadmap toward a Common Framework for Measuring the Digital Economy (The Roadmap, Annex 3) developed under the Saudi Presidency.

The Roadmap contributes to closing measurement and implementation gaps, especially in developing economies, and to strengthening comparability of indicators, as well as statistical capacities in G20 countries and beyond. We promote inclusive and multi-stakeholder dialogue on measurement and recognize the contributions made during the G20 Workshop on Measurement of the Digital

19. We acknowledge the importance of exchanging information on how best to define elements of the digital economy to guide measurement efforts. Building on the outcomes reached in Hangzhou in 2016, and the established frameworks of statistical accounting in sectors and industries, G20 countries this year recognize the proposal by the Saudi Presidency of a tiered definitional framework that supports the following overarching policy definition of elements of the digital economy, for measurement purposes: the digital economy incorporates all economic activity reliant on, or significantly enhanced by the use of digital inputs, including digital technologies, digital infrastructure, digital services, and data; it refers to all producers and consumers, including government, that are utilizing these digital inputs in their economic activities.

20. In order to improve our ability to monitor the social and economic impact of the digital economy, and evaluate policies to shape its evolution while ensuring that no one is left behind, including women and girls, we recognize the importance of representative indicators related to jobs, skills, including digital literacy, and growth, and their effective use across communities, taking into consideration the distribution of outcomes across gender, education, and other socio-economic factors wherever practicable. To improve data availability and current statistics and to strengthen the evidence base in measuring the digital economy, we support working with relevant stakeholders such as the private sector, business entities, educational institutions, civil society, and International Organizations, to consider identifying, developing, and using new and existing sources of data, including gender- or sex-disaggregated data, in accordance with national practices, where it does not yet exist, while protecting privacy and personal data.

21. New business models enabled by digital transformation present various measurement challenges related to data, digital services, and digital platforms. We encourage the discussion and exploration of indicators to account for various measurement challenges, providing measurement guidance where possible, and recognizing efforts to integrate the digital economy into the national accounts and other statistical systems, where appropriate.

22. We recognize the progress made to date and encourage further work on the priority areas identified by the Roadmap.

V. Security in the Digital Economy

23. In 2017, we acknowledged that trust and security are vital to harnessing the potential of the digital economy. In the context of rapidly expanding digitalization and the spread of advanced technologies, enhancing security in the digital economy is increasingly important. Building on our past discussions, in 2020 we commit to working with all stakeholders to advance security in the digital economy in the service of our shared economic interests. By working together, we can help mitigate security risks in the digital economy and reduce systemic risk, contributing to the advancement of strong, sustainable, and inclusive global economic growth.

24. This year the Saudi Presidency hosted a G20 Cybersecurity Dialogue dedicated to inclusive multi-stakeholder, cross-sectoral discussion of the security risks and challenges, as well as opportunities, that characterize the digital economy. 

Discussions focused on ways in which inclusive capacity-building can support efforts to strengthen security in the digital economy, in particular in micro, small, and medium sized enterprises.

25. We recognize efforts by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to create multi-stakeholder dialogue and advance progress in addressing the complex challenges of the digital domain, including through the 2020 Global Cybersecurity Forum.

26. Recognizing that security in the digital economy is central to risk management strategies of all businesses, and highlighting the important place of MSMEs as elements of global value chains, in particular in the global economic response to COVID-19, we welcome the G20 Examples of Practices Related to Security in the Digital Economy (Annex 4), which highlights governmental programs and initiatives. This Annex includes examples provided by governments of policies related to resilience in the digital economy. We encourage all organizations to integrate the relevant aspects of resilience in the digital economy into their overall security risk management strategies, while preserving and respecting human rights. We promote continued multi-stakeholder discussions to advance security in the digital economy.

VI. Way Forward

27. We recognize the role of engagement groups, the interlinkages between our work streams, and the importance of sharing ideas, experiences, and best practices, as well as practical solutions with all interested parties. We thank the International Organizations, that were invited by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's Presidency, including the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), International Labor Organization (ILO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), for their contributions.

We recognize that the digital economy has and will continue to have wide-ranging implications as a driver of inclusive economic growth and development, contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, and as a means to prevent and address crisis situations and aid businesses and industry in recovering from the impact of COVID-19. We acknowledge the crosscutting impact of the digital economy in overcoming development challenges, including growth, labor, employment, social, health, and cultural challenges. We therefore welcome continued discussion of the transformation of the Digital Economy Task Force to a Digital Economy Working Group.

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