Future. Future! Future? - Development cooperation in the digital age

The digital age changes everything about the way we live and work. But not only here in Europe – also in countries such as Rwanda and Bangladesh. From Sci-Fi high-speed, high-tech universes to an Orwellian 1984 nightmare, everything seems possible. In the digital realm, everything seems to oscillate between extremes: access to education and knowledge online, more transparency and participation on the one hand; hate speech, surveillance, automation on the other. In terms of ushering in economic growth and new opportunities, digital tools can offer game-changing advantages to all sectors from agriculture, environment, health, education to public administration. But we need to set the right course today. As the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) we want to harness the digital revolution for sustainable development and prepare for confronting all kinds of challenges on the way. We are proud and happy to bring some of our topics to this year’s re:publica in three different sessions. 

In our main session “Future. Future! Future? Technology worldwide – between utopia and dystopia“ Technology worldwide – between utopia and dystopia” we will ask - with the help of two artistic contemplations of utopian and dystopian futures: What digital world do we all want to live in? We will hear in a set of lightning talks, how online education opens up new pathways for refugees, how digital data keeps a close look on poverty prevention and how 3D printers could turn production chains upside down. All of it will be framed by Thomas Silberhorn, Parliamentary State Secretary to the German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development.

In two additional panels we delve into more depth on two themes: gender and cyber. The session  "Let’s talk about Tech, Baby! – Slam against the gender digital divide" introduces the German G20 initiative #eSkills4Girls, that seeks to improve and open up new pathways to digital employment for women and girls around the world. Young spoken word artists from as far as South Africa will share their reflections and rhymes on what still has to be done to make the digital sector (more) inclusive. 

Not technical enough? Our group of experts on cyber security and cyber capacity building will dissect what a “cyber development policy” in the most remote and impoverished regions should look like. Our session ”Yes, I said cyber. Digital security and rights in international development cooperation” will ask: Between network policy and security policy, between cyber arms race and cyber cynicism, one thing is often left out: What about the digital security of the poorest and most remote regions and populations?

We are excited to be part of the re:publica once again and we come with a packed program. We are looking forward to inspiring and intriguing ideas and poignant debates. Join us!

Photo credit: Alexej Getmann/GIZ