The 59th session of the Commission for Social Development will take place in February 2021 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The Commission is the advisory body responsible for the social development pillar of global development. After receiving special consultative status from the United Nations, ACTLAB was able to make a submission on the socially just transition towards sustainable development, the role of digital technologies on social development, and the well-being of all.
Our previous work has included increasing digital literacy in Cameroon through computer training, job creation, and entrepreneurial workshops. We recognise that moving into a digital age requires a dynamic approach and we saw it to be critical that we highlight, with our counterparts at the Economic and Social Council, that digital progress can also deepen disparity.
Technology has great potential to promote social progress but can also exacerbate existing inequalities. Technological advances are not neutral with respect to their impact and depend on by whom, for whom, and for what purpose they are developed and deployed.
The Digital divide is a major issue that urgently needs to be addressed. Digital technologies are rapidly transforming all facets of our lives. While increased adoption of digital technology help advances social progress, it can also be harmful to human rights and security, and bring grave threats to personal privacy, dignity, and freedom, and, if appropriate policies to mitigate risks are not put in place and/or implemented, it could contribute to a growing divide between haves and have-nots.
Included in our recommendations to address this is increased physical access to technology as well as the enhancement of digital skills, which are often required to take advantage of available opportunities. ACTLAB has established and continues to grow its skills development programs which have allowed our participants to open their own businesses, continue vocational training, and better the lives of themselves and those around them.