5 early ideas on using digital public goods for development

  • Digital Public Goods (DPG) and Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) is an emerging agenda for digital cooperation.
  • Current implementations of DPGs and DPIs have provided lessons that countries can adopt for their own success.
  • The DPGs are not meant to be blueprints, but should be stepping stones for digital foundations tailored to the national context through a whole-of-society approach.

Digital transformation is key to accelerating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the UN has learned that digital public infrastructure (DPI) is becoming increasingly important for countries as they seek to establish their digital foundations. It enables core functions critical to service delivery such as identification, data exchange, payments and more as countries explore the Web 3 agenda.

But what exactly is it, why is it important and how can it best be used?

Why Open Source Software

When building their digital infrastructure, governments have three main options:

1. Build their own solutions, which are often too expensive and technically difficult.

2. Rent or buy proprietary technology, which may limit customization.

3. Deploy Digital Public Goods (DPGs), including open source software compliant with the UN-governed DPG standard, enabling personalization and digital sovereignty.

UNDP and MOSIP have some experience working with governments to build and use IPRs and DPGs, including:

– CoWin – a digital solution for recording the management of COVID-19 vaccinations. It uses the Digital Infrastructure for Open Immunization Certification (DIVOC) to certify vaccines.

– OpenG2P – a system of money transfers from government to citizens.

– MOSIP – an open source identity platform to help establish foundational identification systems for citizens implemented and tested in six countries

Lessons can be learned from this experience to help accelerate the implementation of DPI using DPGs and empower countries to build their digital foundations.

Global economies are already absorbing the costs of climate change and an outdated business as usual approach. Scientific evidence and the dislocation of people highlight the urgent need to create a sustainable, inclusive and climate-resilient future.

This will require nothing less than a transformation of our current economic model into one that generates long-term value by balancing natural, social, human and financial conditions. Cooperation between different stakeholders will be essential to develop the strategies, partnerships and innovative markets that will drive this transformation and enable us to raise the trillions of dollars in investment needed.

To meet these challenges, Financing sustainable development is one of the four focus areas of the World Economic Forum’s 2019 Sustainability Impact Summit. A series of sessions will highlight innovative financial models, pioneering solutions and scalable best practices that can mobilize capital for the Sustainable Development Goals around the world. It will focus on the conditions that public and private institutions should create to enable large-scale financing for sustainable development. It will also explore the role that governments, businesses, investors, philanthropists and consumers could play in coming up with new ways to finance sustainable development.

Lessons for better implementation of PGD

1. Customization of DPGs is essential

There is evidence to suggest that countries using PGD were more responsive to the socio-economic and health impacts of COVID-19 through cash transfers and vaccination campaigns. Today, governments want to accelerate the implementation of PGD, especially in low- and middle-income countries.

To do this well, DPGs should be understood as more than a generic codebase, but can be deployed via DPI implementation depending on the needs of different countries. Its success therefore depends on more than technical implementation, but requires a roadmap for what countries want to achieve.

OpenG2P is an example of DPI built during the Ebola crisis in West Africa. Most of its specifications were developed by the Government of Sierra Leone and local open source innovators with extensive efforts to coordinate and connect available identity and payment systems, assist with capacity building of field workers, and support grievance redress for support services to help all health workers.

The implementation of CoWin in India has also involved at least 70% of its budget in non-technical expenses, including the activation of 325,000 additional COVID-19 vaccination sites, enabling vaccination above the national average in the areas. rural and difficult to access.

2. Link Country Strategies to DPG Commitments

There is a clear demand for PGD implementation opportunities and many countries are looking for support to get started.

Committing to integrating DPGs into national development is a crucial first step. Success, however, requires understanding the alignment of this commitment with broader government goals.

In Afghanistan, for example, UNDP launched the ABADEI strategy as part of the overall UN response to the crisis, encouraging coherence and complementarity of interventions; 12 other United Nations entities have joined. This effort has been a key opportunity for Afghan stakeholders and the global humanitarian community to share local understanding and commit to designing interoperable systems with robust standards that can build resilience and safeguards for the future.

Facilitating engagement through strategic planning is a powerful tool for progress and can be a tangible starting point for accelerating DPG implementation.

3. Move from siled approaches to whole-of-society approaches

Countries need to set their own goals to inform design choices in implementing DPI, and for this there needs to be a mindset that recognizes what DPI at scale can achieve. This requires moving from a siled or single-department approach to a whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach.

Systems-level change can facilitate DPGs and new forms of cooperation. For example, when the government of the Philippines implemented MOSIP, it had to move the conversation beyond just the Philippine Statistics Authority to include various government departments. Today, several cross-functional use cases are being conceptualized leveraging the DPI implementation.

This shift in mindset can be stimulated by conversations about using DPI during implementation. Talk about deploying and customizing interoperable digital systems that can serve multiple use cases and unlock value for citizens.

4. Build capacity and facilitate collaboration

Capacity building is fundamental for successful implementation of DPG, especially for DPI, and necessary for governments, local digital ecosystems and civil society organizations.

There are several considerations to these general capacity building needs. For governments, the first step in knowing where skills and resources need to be strengthened is to articulate a vision for their digital infrastructure.

However, capacity building efforts should generally include:

– Ensure that considerations of inclusivity and human rights are integrated when implementing DPI, for example by outlining what data sharing means and establishing safeguards in the digital architecture.

– Work with different stakeholders, such as purchasing and supplier management, who need to be on the same page. Technological capacity to oversee the implementation of the DPG.

– Be able to visualize and define legislative and policy frameworks for infrastructure governance at the national level.

5. Foster a local culture of service and innovation

Attracting and retaining local talent is important for building local digital ecosystems. The government of Bangladesh has done this remarkably with a2i, a joint program with the UNDP.

It shows how local innovation centers can become important catalysts for developing local talent and providing ongoing support for DPI systems. It also helps eliminate reliance on global companies as suppliers, fostering local services and innovation.

This is also happening internationally. Co-Develop, for example, a global nonprofit fundraising and resource mobilization platform, aims to create an ecosystem that helps countries build inclusive, safe and equitable IPR.

Advancing the Sustainable Development Goals

As a recent report by PGA and Rockefeller points out, DPI holds great promise for accelerating the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by including more people in the digital economy, enabling good governance and service delivery, and creating new tools to meet pressing challenges.

As we move forward in these conversations, broader questions remain about how and at what level these discussions should take place and how country support should be anchored. But this early insight can hopefully move the conversation on PGD forward to ultimately forge better and more inclusive societies.