UNCTAD eWeek 2023 | Navigating the Digital Future: Standards-led Digital Economy (BSI)

Speakers highlighted the key role of standards in shaping the digital economy, underlining their impact on trust, innovation, inclusivity, and sustainability. While acknowledging their benefits, the experts also shed light on the challenges that demand concerted efforts in education, engagement, and clarity to harness the full potential of standards.

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At the UNCTAD eWeek 2023 session titled ‘Navigating the Digital Future: Standards-led Digital Economy (BSI)‘, speakers delved into the role that standards play in steering the course of the digital economy. Nigel Croft, Peter Sissons, Alessandra Lustrati, and David Cuckow offered insights into the multifaceted impact of standards on various facets of the digital realm.

Standards: The cornerstone of digital transition

Nigel Croft emphasised the indispensable nature of standards in navigating the transition to a digital economy. He elucidated how these standards not only facilitate digital trade but also serve as bedrocks for trust-building amidst the rapid digitalization process. Crucially, standards were highlighted as enablers that support policy initiatives on both national and international fronts, promoting trade while ensuring reliability and adherence to consumer promises.

Voluntary standards: catalysts for progress

Peter Sissons underscored the positive impact of voluntary standards on global organisations. He outlined how these standards drive economic efficiency, productivity, and sustainability while fostering innovation. However, Sissons also spotlighted challenges, notably the digital divide hindering the fulfilment of sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the need to enhance awareness among SMEs and policymakers regarding the pivotal role of standards in policy objectives.


Inclusivity, responsibility, and standards in the digital age

Alessandra Lustrati underscored the imperative of digital transformation, emphasising its inclusive, responsible, and sustainable nature. The discussions revolved around inclusivity, sustainability, cybersecurity, and supporting digital enterprises, showcasing the pivotal role of standards in fostering an inclusive digital economy.

Addressing challenges and recognising opportunities

Insights from the audience accentuated standards’ role in overcoming infrastructure and expertise challenges, particularly in AI technology and cybersecurity. The spotlight fell on ISO’s toolkit aiding policy alignment and the necessity for industry engagement in developing relevant and robust standards. E-commerce concerns, especially in developing countries, resonated, highlighting its potential for sustainable development.

Standards: Driving efficiency, trust, and innovation

David Cuckow’s deliberation underscored standards’ role in driving operational efficiencies, quality, trust, and innovation. Despite their benefits, challenges were acknowledged, including the rapid pace of technological evolution, fragmentation, and the imperative need for education and clarity regarding standards.

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