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Minister Koritnik at the United Nations High-level Thematic Debate on Digital Cooperation and Connectivity

The Minister of Public Administration, Boštjan Koritnik, delivered a video address this morning at High-level thematic debate on digital cooperation and connectivity, held by the United Nations (UN).

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UN High Level Debate on Digital Cooperation and Connectivity | Author United Nations

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The Minister began by thanking the President of the UN General Assembly, Volkan Bozkir, for organising such an important event, and welcomed the "digital plan" of the UN Secretary General, also firmly supported by Slovenia and the European Union.

In his address, he highlighted the fact that the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the rise of digitisation around the world, and drew attention to the shortcomings and risks that have emerged during this time, which should be taken seriously during the recovery after COVID-19. After the pandemic, economic reasons and the lack of digital skills could widen the digital gap between various groups within the society, therefore a prompt response in this respect is of the utmost importance, said the Minister, and emphasised: "When it comes to bridging the digital gap, the skills of citizens are essential."

The Minister presented the activities carried out in Slovenia in this area to the High Representatives. Our new Digital Slovenia Strategy is aimed at enabling an inclusive digital society, raising awareness of the importance of advanced technologies, ensuring access to digital infrastructure, and accelerating systemic and targeted investments in the development of the digital society. "When it comes to bridging the digital gap, the skills of citizens in this area are essential; therefore, Slovenia strongly encourages the development of digital skills and competencies that are crucial for successful digital transformation," said the Minister, and further added that the trust of citizens and companies - developed by raising public awareness of the importance of digitalisation and its tools - is also of the utmost importance.

Moreover, the Minister touched upon the successful development of artificial intelligence in Slovenia, the centre of attention during the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2021: "On the basis of more than 40 years of international research in this area, Slovenia firmly believes in the use and development of artificial intelligence. We are incredibly proud of the International Research Centre on Artificial Intelligence under the auspices of UNESCO, established in Ljubljana. In Slovenia, September will be devoted to "artificial intelligence"; namely, our presidency and the European Commission are to hold a high-level conference on artificial intelligence. The conference will be focused on the challenges of effective policies and regulations for the development and implementation of artificial intelligence in society."

In conclusion, the Minister highlighted that in digital transformation, we must not lose sight of human rights, democracy, sound governance, and the rule of law, as according to Koritnik, these elements are essential – both online and offline.

The main purpose of the high-level thematic discussion is to emphasise the relevance and necessity of political commitment at the highest levels, for addressing the digital gap in support to the management of COVID-19, adaptation efforts, response and recovery, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Furthermore, the discussion aims to encourage the international community to strengthen the existing initiatives and partnerships with stakeholders in this content area, as well as to support additional partnership building in order to step up efforts in implementing various activities.

For more information on the High-level Thematic Debate on Digital Cooperation and Connectivity event, please see the United Nations website.