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  • Lena Mäder

Concern for developing countries or personal interest?

Following the opening statements, a common consensus would have been expected. However, it started with a fundamental discussion on the relevancy of dividing countries into richer and poorer countries, rather than on the actual issue of digitalization of agriculture in developing countries. When it finally came to the topic at hand, one could see a push from the more affected countries, which, in addition to financial help, would also like to incorporate the existing tradition into the digitization process.

While the main focus of the US has been on integrating the private sector, the Philippines is gathering countries with similar ideologies, can this be the beginning of a cooperation? A large majority sees the added value of integrating residents in a digitization process and not just working towards cooperation with the respective governments. Spain, on the other hand, insists on recognizing the differences of developing countries, such as the high number of illiterate people, which makes an exchange of information difficult.

As the debate evolved further into a discussion of a common data platform, introduced by Burkina Faso, concrete proposals and inputs were finally made. South Africa, Iran, and Turkey advocated for a regional and national platform, but do not see any implementation at the international level for the time being. The Philippines and Brazil once again emphasized the importance of including the knowledge that already exists locally. Spain and Iran on the other hand raised a critical point about the safety of the data, which Burkina Faso disagreed with by reminding everyone, how safe the UN systems are put in place.

This sums up the most important topics that have been discussed this morning. Being able to observe the discussion I think there’s still lots of potential to improve. Especially as in the beginning, people talked about the actual topic, and then the debate started to go around in circles. Almost every speech started with the sentence: 'as already mentioned ...' instead of 'what has not yet been mentioned'. It took over 2 hours till the big crisis about refugees connected to the famine caused by climate change was first brought up by Ethiopia. But the subject was then again left aside. Other important questions like, who is getting help or who is controlling the data, the UN or the local (maybe corrupt) government, were not discussed at all. The discussion was lacking practical and useable solutions, which will be expected in the next few days.

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