The Digital Public Goods Alliance is a multi-stakeholder initiative with a mission to accelerate the attainment of the sustainable development goals in low- and middle-income countries by facilitating the discovery, development, use of, and investment in digital public goods.
Digital public goods are open-source software, open data, open AI models, open standards and open content that adhere to privacy and other applicable laws and best practices, do no harm by design, and help attain the SDGs.
The DPGA relies on engagement and leadership from private sector technology experts, think tanks, governments, philanthropic donors, international implementing organisations, and the UN.
The DPGA is governed by a board, which functions as a strategic decision-making and oversight body for the DPGA Secretariat. The board consists of member-organisations who demonstrate a strong commitment to digital public goods and are committed to supporting the DPGA’s mission and mandate. Current board members include the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Government of Sierra Leone, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), iSPIRT, UNDP, and UNICEF.
The DPGA also uses a Roadmap as a coordination, alignment, engagement and communication tool to capture the activities of DPGA members working to significantly advance the four DPGA strategic objectives described in the 5 year strategy. Members include: the six members of the board; the Government of Bangladesh; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; data.org; eGov Foundation; Food and Agriculture Organization; Foundation for Public Code; GitHub; UN Global Pulse; India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology; UN Office of Information and Communications Technology; Omidyar Network; Digital Square at PATH; the Republic of Estonia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Rwanda’s Ministry of ICT and Innovation; Thoughtworks; the Uganda Ministry of ICT and National Guidance; the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology; and USAID.
The Digital Public Goods Alliance is part of the response to the universal call to end poverty, protect the planet, and improve the lives and prospects of everyone, everywhere. Below is an overview of milestones that got us to where we are today.
The sustainable development goals are issued – an ambitious agenda to protect people and the planet endorsed by 193 UN member states.
The UN has identified over a thousand distinct mechanisms related to digital cooperation, demonstrating the intrinsic need to embrace technological advancements in development.
The UN Secretary-General convenes the High-Level Expert Panel on Digital Cooperation to consider the ways we can work together to address the social, ethical, legal, and economic impact of digital technologies, to maximise their benefits, and minimise their harm. The panel is meant to advance proposals that strengthen cooperation in the digital space.
“The Age of Digital Interdependence” is released by the panel to help foster greater digital cooperation and advance digital public goods. Recommendation 1B of the report stated, “We recommend 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.” In response, the governments of Sierra Leone and Norway, alongside UNICEF and the Indian think-tank iSPIRT, launch the DPGA.
The DPGA is guided by the release of the UN Secretary-General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, defining a digital public good as “Open source software, open data, open AI models, open standards and open content that adhere to privacy and other applicable international and domestic laws, standards and best practices, and do no harm.”
Led by a clear mission to advocate for the discovery, use, and deployment of digital public goods, the DPGA establishes the foundational tools meant to help achieve their mission including the DPG Standard and DPG Registry.
The 75th Anniversary of the UN in 2020 presents the “Global Commitment for Digital Cooperation” enshrining goals, principles, and priority actions.
The timeline for the flagship ambition of the Sustainable Development Goals: to end extreme poverty by 2030. Improved digital cooperation will need to play a vital role in meeting this goal.