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Statement delivered by Denmark’s Minister for Development Cooperation and Minister for Nordic Cooperation, Mr. Flemming Møller Mortensen, on the occasion of the high-level virtual event on “Digital transformation in the age of COVID-19” on 24 February, 2021

24.02.2021  15:37

Dear Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrisnan and dear Achim Steiner, thank you so much for inviting me today. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital transformation.

On the positive side, we have the rapid development of for example, online education, and the continuation of international cooperation by virtual means. 

But we have also witnessed a growing digital divide between rich and poor. 

The benefits have been concentrated where resources were already available.

And already marginalized groups are falling behind, deepening the divide and increasing political inequalities. 

Broader geographical coalitions are being built around subjects such as gender equality, sexual and reproductive health, and freedom of religion. 

However, we also note negative trends. 2019 witnessed more than 200 deliberate internet shut-downs. These violate multiple rights, but can also be deadly during a health crisis. 

Promoting civic space offline and online is a priority for Denmark. 

Last week Denmark and Costa Rica launched a list of recommendations for the UN to further ensure meaningful civil society participation. 

The recommendations underscore that we must bridge the digital divide to strengthen inclusion for civic space.

Denmark is one of the world’s most digitalized democracies, which gives a great opportunity to promote a human rights-based approach to digital development. 

We just launched a strategy for Danish tech diplomacy efforts. Our goal is to ensure that technology strengthens democracy and digital resilience. 

This strategic approach includes working with the global tech industry to encourage ethical behavior, democratic values and human rights. 

Our aim is also to strengthen our engagement with governments, business and civil society to ensure that the use of technology is based on human rights in a way that strengthens good governance.

New technologies can play a critical role in achieving the 2030 Agenda. You can count on Denmark to work for harnessing digital technologies for good and to bridge the digital divide, in partnership with all stakeholders.

Thank you.