Regional Conversation Series on Building Back Better: Accelerating Digital Connectivity and Leveraging Innovation


Asia and the Pacific is a key driver of a technological revolution that is profoundly transforming the way we live, work and relate to one another. At the same time, the region is also one of the most digitally divided, with less than 14 per cent of the population connected to affordable and reliable high-speed Internet. Around 52 per cent of the region’s population remains offline. As the COVID-19 new normal has seen our reliance on connectivity grow exponentially, the digital divide threatens to become the new face of inequality – exacerbating not only income inequality, but also inequality of opportunity.

This Regional Conversation will discuss pathways to digital inclusion and innovation drawing from the perspectives of a wide range of stakeholders, focusing on the following questions:

  1. How can we better use technology and the frontiers of science to achieve the future we want? What does space science teach us and what promise does it hold?
  2. What is the near future cluster of technology innovation that will have the biggest impact on sustainable development?
  3. What policies and initiatives are needed to address the digital divide challenge for inclusive and sustainable development?
  4. What investments and initiatives are needed for the deployment of next generation infrastructure networks and the transformation of societies into digital societies?
  5. What is the role of international cooperation in bringing universal, safe, affordable and reliable access to the Internet by 2030?

Opening Remarks

  • Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Executive Secretary of ESCAP
  • Mr. Fabrizio Hochschild, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General of the United Nations


  • H.E. Mr. Karma Donnen Wangdi, Minister of Information and Communications, Bhutan
  • H.E Mr. Mohamed Maleeh Jamal, Minister Communication, Science and Technology, Maldives
  • Ambassador (ret.) Ted Osius, Vice President for Government Affairs and Public Policy, Asia-Pacific, Google
  • Dr. Mukai Chiaki, M.D., Ph.D., Astronaut, Senior Advisor, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
  • Mr. Sami Farhad, Senior Director, Globalization Office, Alibaba
  • Mr. Fabrizio Hochschild, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General of the United Nations


  • Ms. Tiziana Bonapace, Director, Information and Communications Technology and Disaster Risk Reduction Division

Webinar Banner