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2021 HLPF Addresses Opportunities and Trends in Digital Transformation and Circular Economy

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As part of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization’s (UNIDO) engagement with the 2021 High Level Political Forum, a high-level side event on “Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Recovery through Digital Transformation and the Circular Economy” was organized, which was attended by public and private sector representatives and the academia.

“We have to empower women and girls with education and ensure sure that they occupy decision-making positions”, said South-African Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams. “A number of policy factors are necessary to enable a smooth transition to a digital and green transformation, including addressing the digital divide in developing countries, support from high income countries, establishing agile regulatory frameworks and empowering women”.

David McGinty, Global Director of the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE) stressed that, while the private sector understands the issues related to resource efficiency, it requires greater policy guidance from governments and open dialogue platforms such as the Global Alliance on Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency (GACERE) and the Global Plastics Alliance.

Other participants including Aquabyte Founder and CEO Bryton Shang underlined the need for a greater digitalization of the ‘blue economy’ to improve decision-making, sustainability and value addition. Bogolo Kenewendo, Managing Director of Kenewendo Advisory, urged for greater public-private partnership and government-led initiatives to accelerate digitalization in developing countries, especially amidst a backdrop of COVID-19.

“COVID has taught us that governments need to be more active in leading innovation and as a facilitator in the infrastructure space as well as in terms of financial support”, said Kenewendo. “One of the reasons why the United States is an innovation leader is because the government actively invested in creating ‘Silicon Valley’, it didn’t just happen by itself”.

During the fireside chat segment of the high-level side event, Astrid Schomaker, Director, Global Sustainable Environment, DG Environment, European Commission, introduced the EU’s European Green Deal framework and noted that digitalization could accelerate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, particularly through technologies such as blockchain, and new business models such as the sharing economy and mobility as a service.


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