Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs

Opening statement to the Expert Group Meeting on
“E-Government for Sustainable Development”

Distinguished participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to this Expert Group Meeting on “E-Government for Sustainable Development” in preparation of the United Nations E-Government Survey 2016, a flagship publication of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

The theme of this Meeting is highly timely and relevant.

While the goals and targets of the post-2015 agenda are still being elaborated, there is an emerging consensus in the intergovernmental process that poverty eradication and sustainable development are the overriding priorities of the new global development agenda.

It is also clear that sustainable development cannot be achieved without good governance and accountable public institutions, as clearly identified in the Rio+20 outcome document “The Future We Want” and as reflected in the proposed SDG 16.

The key question is what type of governance system, leadership, human resources capacities, institutions, and processes are required to advance sustainable development.

As the Secretary-General has reaffirmed in his Synthesis Report on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, the achievement of sustainable development calls for a transformational and innovative approach – one that is based on an integrated and holistic framework, which promotes a balanced consideration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of development.

This, in turn, will entail a transformation of government’s role, institutional frameworks and decision-making processes through enhanced policy coordination and public service integration, as well as innovative public-private partnerships for resource mobilization.

That brings me to the purpose of this Expert Group Meeting.
As highlighted by the UN General Assembly in resolution 68/198, ICTs “have the potential to provide new solutions to development challenges, particularly in the context of globalization, and can foster sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth and sustainable development, competitiveness, access to information and knowledge, poverty eradication and social inclusion that will help to expedite the integration of all countries, especially developing countries, in particular the least developed countries, into the global economy”.
Indeed, new technologies have empowered governance and public service delivery, through e/m-services, e-consultation and e-participation, open up new ways of interaction and collaboration between governments and public institutions, businesses, and social groups as well as individuals – irrespective of their geographical location.

By adopting a transformative agenda and innovative practices, Governments can deliver customized public services to the needs of people, in a transparent and cost-effective manner.

Leveraging the internet, mobile devices and social media helps improve quality of, and access to, government services, including e-education and e-health.

More targeted and inclusive e-services and e-participation can help to empower women and youth, and address challenges of vulnerable groups, including older persons and persons with disabilities.

In addition, online discussion platforms and use of social media present further opportunities to enhance dialogue for more inclusive policy-making processes.

Bridging social gaps in this way can promote more inclusive, peaceful societies.

Innovative public-private partnerships, including through crowdfunding and crowdsourcing, are powerful tools to engage people and businesses in the implementation of development policies and projects.

Distinguished participants,

E-government can promote environmentally sustainable business opportunities through green procurement, e-commerce and online services for job creation.

Open government data is also creating new economic benefits by making data available that can be re-used by people to develop new services and applications.

New environmental innovations, including through e-government solutions, can help improve water management, reduce land degradation, decrease energy consumption, and promote early warning and disaster management systems.

In fact, new technologies like big data, the Internet of Everything, geographic information systems and the use of predictive analytics are powerful tools for anticipatory governance in promoting environmental sustainability, along with social and economic progress.

The data revolution can also enhance the accountability framework of public institutions and promote greater transparency, as well as complement conventional statistical systems.

In this respect, e-government, especially through integrated information management systems, can make the data collection, standardization and management more effective, efficient and seamless.

It can help countries around the world to monitor what has been achieved through their development efforts and to make their future endeavours even more effective and targeted.

All of these new trends will require a holistic government vision of development and sustainability, collaborative leadership, whole-of-government approaches and smart governance.

This, in turn, will entail building appropriate capacity of governments, laws and regulations to guarantee privacy, transparency, and accountability, as well as effective internet governance, including addressing issues of cyber-security.

In this context, the UN e-Government Survey, which assesses all 193 UN Member States, can become an extremely valuable tool for the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda.

The Survey motivates countries to strengthen their capacity by sharing knowledge and innovative practices from around the world in enhancing e-governance and public service delivery.

The Survey also helps Member States to monitor the progress on how governments leverage new technologies for providing public services and producing public value for sustainable development.

It is within this framework that we would like to invite you to share your insights, views and recommendations on how to better align the forthcoming UN E-Government Survey with the post-2015 development agenda.

I wish you fruitful deliberations.

Thank you.

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