IGF 2023: Workshops on digital public infrastructure and services


The Secretariat for the International Digital Dialogues organised several events at this year’s UN Internet Governance Forum (IGF) from 8 to 12 October 2023 in Kyoto, Japan. In addition to two receptions, two workshops on crucial topics took place. The workshops brought together a diverse range of experts to discuss how to build trust in user-centric digital public services (DPS) and how to create digital public infrastructure (DPI) that empowers people.

After last year’s successful workshop, the Secretariat for the International Digital Dialogues participated in the IGF again. The overarching theme of this year’s IGF in Japan was “The Internet We Want – Empowering All People.”

Workshop: How to build trust in user-centric digital public services

Luanna Roncaratti and Dr Rudolf Gridl spoke as panellists. © Digital Dialogues-GIZ

The first workshop took place on 8 October. Participants joined online as well as on site at the Kyoto International Conference Center. Four experts shed light on the topic of trust in digital public services: Gautham Ravichander from the eGov Foundation in India, Dr Rudolf Gridl from the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV), Valeriya Ionan from the Ukrainian Ministry for Digital Transformation, and Luanna Roncaratti from the Brazilian Ministry for Management and Innovation in Public Services.

The experts shared their learnings on building trust in digital government in India, Ukraine, Brazil and Germany. They mentioned different key factors for trust-building, such as transparency, user-centricity, citizen engagement and capacity building as well as data security. The panellists agreed that it is important to find a balance between creating user-friendly services and preserving data privacy. Moreover, they highlighted opportunities and risks of using artificial intelligence (AI) in DPS. AI can, for example, facilitate automated translation, but there is the risk of bias and discrimination.

The audience directly engaged with the experts and asked interesting questions, e.g. regarding the inclusion of migrants, Ukraine’s data-in-transit approach as opposed to storing citizen data permanently, cybersecurity and the role of foreign cloud computing servers.

The speakers joined online and on site. © Digital Dialogues-GIZ

Workshop: Creating digital public infrastructure that empowers people

The open forum on 11 October explored  different perspectives on the implementation of digital public infrastructure (DPI) in different countries. Dr Irina Soeffky from BMDV initiated the discussion and mentioned some of the major German DPI initiatives, such as GovStack which promotes building blocks for digital governments.

The dynamic discussion included perspectives from Dr Pramod Varma, CTO of EkStep Foundation in India, Mark Irura from GIZ Kenya, Adriana Groh, co-founder of the German Sovereign Tech Fund, and Valeriya Ionan, Deputy Minister for Eurointegration at the Ukrainian Ministry for Digital Transformation. The experts were asked about the DPI ecosystem of their respective country, lessons learned as well as the role of international cooperation on DPI.

The speakers emphasised the importance of a shared understanding of DPI. They agreed that a holistic approach is necessary that involves the public and private sector as well as civil society and that takes the demand side and citizens’ needs into account. They also stressed that DPI is the fundamental basis for crucial public services, and all its components must be well-protected. The session made clear that governments face similar challenges when it comes to managing and implementing DPI, and they can benefit from international knowledge exchange.

Many high-level representatives met at the receptions. © Digital Dialogues-GIZ

Important platform for international multi-stakeholder exchange

On behalf of BMDV, the Secretariat for the International Digital Dialogues organised two successful receptions on 9 and 10 October to facilitate multi-stakeholder dialogues. At the first reception, representatives from Germany, Austria and Switzerland met to exchange ideas over finger food and drinks. For the second reception, the German Federal Government invited international stakeholders from politics, business, civil society and academia, and over 350 attendees joined to network and discuss internet governance from various perspectives.

The Internet Governance Forum is an important platform for international multi-stakeholder exchange. The Secretariat for the International Digital Dialogues took the opportunity to engage in insightful discussions and to bring together diverse perspectives and will continue to promote bilateral and multilateral dialogues on digital policy.

If you missed the workshops, you can watch the recordings on our YouTube channel here!

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