H.E. Ms. Anna Karin Eneström, Permanent Representative of Sweden,
H.E. Mr. Claver Gatete, Permanent Representative of Rwanda,

Excellencies and colleagues,

I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the G77 and China.

At the outset, I would like to thank the co-facilitators for convening this thematic deep dive, which provides the opportunity to share our ideas and vision on this topic.

The rapid digitalization process and the development of new technologies has changed the way people and countries interact. The Covid-19 pandemic has also accelerated the process of digital transformation and added urgency to the need to respond to those new opportunities and challenges, which require global solutions to mitigate the negative impacts and make use of the positive implications.

The Group believes that when we assess the development implications of data and cross-border data flows, the persistent digital divide needs to be considered. The traditional digital divide between developed and developing countries remains high, and it is a recurrent challenge for development. Moreover, as the role of data as an economic resource, as well as that of cross-border data flows, has become more relevant, new dimensions of the digital divide have emerged, in connection with the "data value chain".

According to the 2021 Digital Economy Report by UNCTAD, developing countries may find themselves in subordinate positions, with data and associated value capture getting concentrated in a few global digital corporations and other multinational enterprises who control global data. Hence, developing countries are at grave risk of becoming mere raw data providers to these global digital platforms. Therefore, the infrastructure and capacities to create, store, secure and capture value from raw data are required to use data as an economic resource.

The use of data can offer a significant potential in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, but this requires to address multiple challenges mainly the growing digital divide, including the data divide; relevant skills and capacities in various sectors; legal and regulatory frameworks; competition and tax policies with regard to the current concentration of gains and market power in the digital economy and also infrastructure that enables digitalization.

Data and data flows can support the development of various solutions to global development challenges, but this will need enhance international cooperation, technology transfer and capacity building in order to strengthen the capacity of developing countries to harness data for sustainable development, having an equal participation in the data value chain.

It should be noted that data protection is only one aspect of data governance and the Group considers that there is a lack of data governance. Data can be used to track, target or harm anyone if not governed. Inequalities in access to benefits from data risk leaving people and communities misinformed, divided, and vulnerable. Absence of data governance allows current practices to continue enabling and enlarging data and digital divides between countries and people, undermining decades of development.

The benefits of digital data must be openly and equitably distributed to all people. The rules cannot be unilaterally defined. In order to ensure an inclusive process with representation of all developing countries, the United Nations needs to play a key role in advancing a more balanced global data governance. We underscore that all parties should step up dialogue and cooperation on the basis of mutual respect. The international community should make concerted efforts to promote data governance through broad consultation and taking into account joint contribution and shared benefits. This is important to avoid further fragmentation of the Internet; to enable global data sharing; to mitigate widening inequalities; to enhance trust in the digital economy; to deal with the dominant role of some digital platforms; and to account for the impact of some national regulations spilling over into other countries.

It is essential to ensure that local knowledge, needs and viewpoints of developing countries become adequately represented in global policy discussions.

Overall, global data governance should help enable data-sharing that could help address major global development challenges while also supporting national priorities, in particular those of developing countries. Determining the best way forward will be difficult but is necessary. How we deal with data will determine if digitalization will bring inclusive and sustainable outcomes or lead to a further widening of the digital divide and income inequalities. The Global Digital Compact should outline concrete actions and specific initiatives in this regard, in order to secure meaningful results for States and the international community, and to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Thank you.