G20 ministers agree on digital working group, discuss cybersecurity
Ministers from the Group of Twenty (G20) on Thursday established the Digital Economy Working Group, a forum that will help shepherd the world through upcoming digital transitions.
Speaking to reporters after Thursday's summit of G20 ministers, Italy's Minister for Technological Innovation and Digital Transition Vittorio Colao said the creation of the working group was the crowning achievement of the talks.
Italy, which holds the 2021 G20 presidency, hosted the talks in the northeastern port city of Trieste.
"Thanks to the work of the Italian presidency, the Digital Economy Working Group was born at this year's G20," Colao said, calling the working group a platform that will "lead the debate on the digital transformation in the public and private sector for future G20 presidencies."
The minister said the coronavirus pandemic illustrated the value of digital capacities.
"We must work to increase the use of digital identities such as electronic identification schemes that are operational between various platforms, sectors, and national borders," he said. "This will help strengthen the relationship of trust that must exist between citizens and governments, something we have seen during the pandemic."
He used the example of European Union (EU) digital health certificates to make his point.
"In a remarkably short period of time, the 27 European Union countries designed, tested, and made operational an infrastructure that makes digital health certificates operational between platforms and easy to authenticate," Colao said.
The challenge of making the newly-established working group relevant in the future will include addressing the different speeds with which countries and large companies move toward their own versions of digital transformation.
"We are moving in the right direction, both in terms of updating regulator frameworks and in strengthening international collaboration," Colao said. "We must be open to greater experimentation in both the private and public sectors."
Ministers also discussed cybersecurity, a point brought to a head earlier this month when Lazio, the Italian region that includes the capital of Rome, saw its health networks crippled by what the regional government called "a powerful hacker attack." The attack, which has since been resolved, shut down the Health Lazio portal and halted the region's vaccination rollout.
Also discussed were the role of digital technologies in industrial production and sustainable economic growth, social inclusion, artificial intelligence, research and development, incentives for innovation for smart cities, and the encouragement of safe cross-border data flows.