GENEVA, Switzerland — COVID-19 has irreversibly changed the way we do things, showing the critical role of digital solutions that have kept businesses running and helped reduce the spread of the virus.
However, many developing countries are still struggling to make use of e-commerce and other digital tools.
At the same time, the momentum to ensure the digital economy becomes more inclusive is growing, championed by the eTrade for all initiative, which has just welcomed the Commonwealth Secretariat and the International Labour Organization (ILO) to its fold, increasing its membership to 32 organizations.
The partnership, marking its fourth anniversary this month, has become even more important in light of the pandemic as countries seek to foster new strategies for economic recovery.
E-commerce is expected to be at the vanguard of the recovery efforts as the world moves farther online.
“The Commonwealth Secretariat is delighted to join the eTrade for all community,” said chief of the Commonwealth Secretariat, Patricia Scotland.
“Without our collective efforts, there is a real risk that many individuals, businesses and even countries may be left behind by digitalization and excluded from participating effectively in the digital economy,” Scotland said.
She added: “By leveraging the strengths of multiple stakeholders, we can help ensure individuals, entrepreneurs and businesses across the world are empowered to harness the benefits of e-commerce for inclusive and sustainable development.”
The ILO is actively engaged in the debates on the digital economy and identifying knowledge gaps related to digital skills, working conditions and social protection.
“We’re excited to join the partnership and look forward to making an important contribution to it,” said Vic van Vuuren, director of enterprises at the ILO.
“E-commerce is a futuristic catalyst for economic growth, reducing the social deficit and caring for the planet whilst entrenching a decent work agenda,” he said.
Strong commitment, consolidating efforts
UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi commended the partnership for its strong commitment to ensuring no one is left behind in the digital economy despite the vagaries of the global landscape.
“I’m delighted to witness the increasing number of eTrade for all partners in all of the initiative’s growing activities,” Dr Kituyi said.
“To ensure no one is left behind in the digital economy, the international community needs to work more, not less, together,” he added.
The partnership has grown and deepened. In the past year, it reached a significant milestone, with two external evaluations held over the last few months lauding its sterling work in leveraging the expertise and resources of all partners working together.
The evaluations acknowledged that the partnership is making the digital economy more inclusive, thanks to its role as a transparent and efficient “global digital help desk”.
The first virtual eWeek 2020, held in April, to which many eTrade for all partners contributed, illustrated that, even with various lockdown measures and travel restrictions, it’s possible to hold global, multistakeholder development dialogues.
The event comprised a set of 14 online webinars and high-level policy dialogues that discussed, among others, how to leverage the contribution of e-commerce to mitigate the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
Solid and trusted catalyst for partnerships
The eTrade for all initiative has evolved into a solid, trusted, neutral and useful source of information and a potent catalyst for partnerships across the digital economy’s global landscape.
Through shared purpose, the partners have collaborated to connect the dots for gainful benefit from e-commerce and the digital economy in developing countries.
The partnership and its spin-off activities received funds in 2019 and 2020 from Australia, Estonia, Finland, Germany, the Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, Sweden, the Enhanced Integrated Framework and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation.
Learn more about the partnership’s impact and activities carried out in the past year in its Year in Review 2019-2020.