A dialogue with civil society and local authorities to advance the EU-LAC Digital Alliance


Takeaways of the D4D Hub participation at the EU-LAC Forum

Youth organizations, civil society, and local authorities from the European Union (EU) and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) gathered on 13-14 July to discuss opportunities to build a sustainable and inclusive future for both regions. Titled “Partners in Change”, the EU-LAC Forum took place in the lead-up to the EU-CELAC Summit, aiming to issue recommendations and to advance multi-stakeholder collaboration.

A triple just transition, including the green and digital transformation, took the central stage. Specific topics such as tackling the digital gap, connectivity accessibility, and gender-sensitive inclusion in the digital transformation were also addressed. The EU-LAC Digital Alliance partners, including the D4D Hub, organised a set of side events to dive into these topics:

The first day started with a session led by the BELLA programme: Enhancing Community Network’s Impact in the BELLA II Project: Exploring the Role of Communitarian Networks. RedCLARA, the lead implementers of the project, presented the research and education communitarian networks as a fruitful approach to engaging communities and civil society to reach last-mile connectivity.

Some of the key outcomes of the session included:

  • The need to have a broader approach to connectivity by promoting digital ecosystems and networks from the educational, scientific, and technological sectors.
  • The importance of looking at digital ecosystems in an inclusive way; as one of the key aspects of the new phase of BELLA II.
  • The key role of partnerships with the EU to ensure last-mile connectivity for marginalised communities across Latin America and the Caribbean, closing existing connectivity gaps that have been identified by mapping specific projects in the region.

Also on the first day, AECID (Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo), as co-lead of the D4D Hub LAC branch, led a discussion on the key dimensions of the human-centric approach to digital transformation: Human-centric digital transformation: how to make sure no one is left behind?. Representatives from the European Commission, international organisations, civil society, and local authorities actively participated in this debate.

Some of the key outcomes of the session included:

  • The human rights-sensitive approach to digitalisation requires a bottom-up dynamic approach with local governments, civil society, and grassroots movements to encompass the needs of local communities.
  • Internet access and digital inclusion are needs and rights, thus data protection issues must be considered.
  • It is key to develop affordable and adequate technologies for local governments to help them communicate effectively with citizens without depending on social media platforms that currently hold the power of data and respond to the interest of private companies.
  • Public and private investments are needed not only for hard infrastructure, but also for the development of soft skills to take advantage of an inclusive digitalisation.

To begin the second day of the forum, the Digital Alliance partners working on regional digital policy dialogues, GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammernarbeit), FIIAP (Fundación Internacional para IberoAmérica de Administración y Políticas Públicas) and Expertise France, held a fireside-chat on digital policy: “Digital policy for all – civil society voices in interregional policy dialogue”. The session started with the presentation of the overall strategy of the EU-LAC Digital Alliance. Key issues such as mainstreaming gender inclusion, strengthening digital rights and targeting young people with digital policies were debated with representatives from civil society in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Some of the key topics identified by participants as priorities for the upcoming EU-LAC interregional policy dialogues included:

  • Inclusion of digital rights in the digital transformation.
  • The role of legislation/regulations to protect women and youth.
  • The impact of data protection in gender digital violence.
  • Freedom of expression, sexuality and digital habits.

The second side event of the day “Steering an inclusive Twin Transition in LAC - Youth and Women’s perspectives on digital and green transition”, moderated by DG INTPA and GIZ, consisted of a reflective exchange on challenges, potential and considerations of digitalisation in addressing global issues, such as climate change. The panel discussion gathered young women from the LAC region, working at the intersection of digital transformation, climate-related topics and gender.

Some of the key outcomes of the session included:

  • Digital transformation is a global challenge that requires global partnerships.
  • It also needs to be inclusive, involving not only diverse stakeholders, but representing all actors of the society such as women, youth, ethnic minorities, etc.
  • The role of women and youth in monitoring climate change through digitalisation in their territories can help to manage the climate crisis.
  • A co-production of knowledge is necessary, combining the scientific/technical perspective with the traditional knowledge from communities.

Finally, the last side event “Earth Observation – Benefits of the future regional Copernicus Centres for LAC” was co-hosted by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the University of Chile.

As key flagships of the Digital Alliance, two Copernicus Regional Centers for LAC will be established in Panama and Chile to offer capacity building and tailored mappings of Copernicus data to all LAC countries. The objectives of the regional Copernicus centres for LAC are to establish a regional Copernicus strategy to enhance the resilience of LAC countries by supporting their spatial data management capacity and strategic use. The EO services from these two regional centres will offer land (land cover/land use service) and coastal monitoring in Chile, and climate change monitoring and disaster risk reduction and recovery in Panama.

ESA also presented the Disaster Risk Management service of Copernicus in LAC. This service has several priority and thematic focus areas such as: risk and recovery mapping, vulnerability, and preparedness assessment, and monitoring of extreme weather.

Key discussion topics included:

  • The type and size of available data is expanding. This brings new challenges for downloading and distribution to universities in LAC.
  • The level of readiness of the network for these masses of information and data flows.