These are still the early days of the digital economy. But already it is clear that it has had, and will continue to have, globally transformative impacts on the way we live, work and develop our economies. As the world strives to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – our universal blueprint for building peaceful, prosperous societies on a healthy planet – harnessing the great power of information and communications technologies can be one of the keys to success, including by opening new pathways of development and helping countries gain access to the global store of knowledge. The developing world itself is showing great leadership in technological innovations that can spur their own growth while benefiting the world.
At the same time, we know that large parts of the developing world remain disconnected from the Internet, and many people lack access to high-speed broadband connectivity. Policymaking at the national and international levels needs to mitigate the risk that digitalization could widen existing divides and create new gaps. Moreover, since increased reliance on digital technologies, such as cloud computing, three-dimensional printing, big data and “the Internet of things”, is certain to influence most industries and global value chains, it is essential to start assessing opportunities and pitfalls alike, and to prepare for what is coming.
The enormous scope and considerable uncertainty associated with the next digital shift call for more facts, dialogue and action by all stakeholders The analysis contained in the Information Economy Report 2017: Digitalization, Trade and Development contributes to this process and proposes ways in which the international community can reduce inequality, enable the benefits of digitalization to reach all people and ensure that no one is left behind by the evolving digital economy.
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