The DCO Council Announces Multilateral Cooperation Initiatives to Bridge Digital Divide and Ensure Inclusive, Sustainable Global Digital Economy Growth

The DCO Council Announces Multilateral Cooperation Initiatives to Bridge Digital Divide and Ensure Inclusive, Sustainable Global Digital Economy Growth

  • DCO Member States call for multilateral, multistakeholder, and multi-sectorial digital cooperation to drive sustainable, inclusive growth of the global digital economy.
  • DCO launches new multilateral initiatives: GenAI Center of Excellence, Online Content Integrity, and Data Embassy in recognition of the critical juncture in global digital economy advancement.
  • DCO Council welcomes Bangladesh, Qatar and Greece as new Member States

The Digital Cooperation Organization (DCO), a global intergovernmental organization dedicated to fostering digital prosperity for all by accelerating the inclusive growth of the global digital economy, concluded its 3rd General Assembly in Bahrain on January 31, 2024, with the launch of new digital cooperation initiatives to bridge the global digital divide. The DCO Council also announced the joining of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, the state of Qatar, and the Hellenic Republic as the new Member States and officially handed over its presidency from the Kingdom of Bahrain to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

Chaired by H.E. Mohamed bin Thamir Al Kaabi, Chairperson of the DCO and Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications of the Kingdom of Bahrain, and with the participation of Deemah AlYahya, the Secretary-General of the DCO, the General Assembly convened ministerial representatives and heads of delegations of 16 DCO Member States, covering a population of around 800 million and GDP of USD 3.5 trillion, in addition to guest countries and Observers. Topics of discussion included cross-border market growth; the value of data; human-centric and sustainable digital economy; and digital cooperation to deliver impact. digital trade, investment, and entrepreneurship; and accelerating the digital cooperation agenda.

In their Council Declaration, the DCO Member states reaffirmed their commitment to build an agile, efficient, and relevant multilateral organization, acknowledging the critical juncture in the advancement of the global digital economy and emphasizing the importance of multilateral, multistakeholder, and multi-sectorial, digital cooperation to drive and accelerate the sustainable and inclusive growth of the global digital economy.

In addition, DCO Member States affirmed in the declaration their commitment to prevent the global digital divide from becoming a challenge to the development divide, recognizing the potential of digital transformation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. To achieve this potential, they urged all stakeholders in the global digital economy to relentlessly cooperate in a multilateral framework to ensure that every country, business, and individual gets the chance to prosper in the global digital economy.

Member States noted recent developments and trends of the digital economy, presenting opportunities but also challenges to be mitigated through international cooperation, and additionally emphasized the importance of multilateral cooperation to harmonize digital policies around the world. The Council Declaration furthermore recognized the role of cooperation to overcome the risks of digital fragmentation and bridge the digital divide, and confirmed the composition of the 2024 Executive Committee with chair the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Deputies from six Member States.

Member States announced the launch of a new DCO initiative, the DCO GenAI Center of Excellence Initiative, which will kick-start a network of state-of-the-art facilities equipped with advanced systems.

Other new DCO initiatives announced to drive digital cooperation included the Data Embassy Initiative and the Online Content Integrity Initiative. These DCO initiatives, in collaboration with Member States, Observers, and Partners, aim to achieve a sustainable and inclusive digital economy.

The Data Embassy Initiative supports the establishment of a network of secure data storage facilities beyond national borders and ensures the safety and sovereignty of Member States’ data, while fostering a unified digital environment among DCO Member States. The initiative is a cornerstone of the DCO Data agenda which will serve as a framework for navigating data management and governance, helping Member States and the DCO meet the challenges of interoperability, privacy, and digital diplomacy.

The Online Content Integrity Initiative will meanwhile confront the challenges presented by misinformation on social media and streaming platforms while considering the diversity of cultural values. The organization welcomed Kuwait’s decision to champion the initiative.

The Assembly additionally witnessed the announcement of the addition of 17 new Observers from different sectors, reflecting the global determination to enhance digital cooperation among different stakeholders and affirming the commitment of DCO Member States to reduce the global digital divide through the potential offered by digital transformation to achieve sustainable development goals.

The meeting included an opening session in which H.E. Mohamed bin Thamir Al Kaabi, Chairperson of the DCO and Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications of the Kingdom of Bahrain, welcomed the attendees, commending their presence, which reflects their commitment to achieving the goals of the DCO and enhancing international digital cooperation, as well as overcoming the main challenges to achieving a comprehensive, prosperous, and sustainable digital economy.

He added, “The Kingdom of Bahrain takes pride in hosting the third general assembly meeting of the Digital Cooperation Organization, which confirms the Kingdom’s commitment to driving progress and innovation in the digital world for everyone, in line with the goals and aspirations of the organization in the field of digital economy, with a view to enhancing international cooperation to address global challenges and achieve sustainable development.”

He also highlighted that during the Kingdom of Bahrain’s presidency of the third general assembly of the organization, the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, the State of Qatar and the Hellenic Republic (Greece) joined, and the Kingdom of Bahrain actively participated in various activities and initiatives of the Digital Cooperation Organization. One of the most important initiatives is the Digital Prosperity Awards, which the organization created to encourage cooperation and facilitate innovation and digital transformation for member states to participate in. The award includes the themes of digital innovation, digital transformation, and community empowerment.

Deemah AlYahya, the Secretary-General of the DCO, said: “On behalf of the DCO Secretariat, I extend our appreciation to the Government of Bahrain and deepest gratitude to Mohamed bin Thamir Al Kaabi and the Council of Member States for their guidance and unwavering support provided throughout the year. Today more than ever, we need cooperation among all stakeholders as the world faces digital inequalities compounded by rapidly advancing technologies such as AI. By working together, we can ensure that progress is inclusive and sustainable by choice, not chance. We possess the tools, the talent, and the tenacity to bridge the digital divide, empower the marginalized, and pave the way for a future where no one is left behind.”

She continued: ”DCO stands today as a shining beacon of hope, driving collaboration by bringing governments, private sector, and civil society around the world to the same table. Indeed, the decisions taken at the General Assembly in Bahrain will help more than 800 million people in our 16 Member States, and leave an impact for generations to come.”

In a video intervention during the general assembly, H.E. KONO Taro, the Minister for Digital Transformation in Japan, expressed Japan’s interest in joining activities of the DCO and building a cooperation framework to share expertise, knowledge, and experience for digital transformation.

The DCO is a global intergovernmental organization, established in November 2020, aimed at enabling digital prosperity for all by accelerating inclusive growth of the digital economy. The DCO brings together ministries of communications and information technology in 16 countries: the Kingdom of Bahrain, the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, the Republic of Cyprus, the Republic of Djibouti, the Republic of The Gambia, the Republic of Ghana, the Hellenic Republic (Greece), the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the State of Kuwait, the Kingdom of Morocco, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Sultanate of Oman, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the State of Qatar, the Republic of Rwanda, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The DCO focuses on empowering youth, women, and entrepreneurs, benefiting from the accelerating power of the digital economy, leveraging the accelerative power of the digital economy, and leapfrogging with innovation to drive economic growth and increase social prosperity. The DCO’s vision is to work towards a world in which every nation, business and person has a fair opportunity to prosper in the digital economy.

The next General Assembly of the DCO will take place in February 2025 in Jordan.

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