Digital Inclusion

As the world emerges from Covid-19, how can digital access and inclusive approaches to education and skilling connect global citizens to the next billion jobs?

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The COVID-19 crisis has put millions of people out of work and exacerbated economic inequality around the world. It has also squeezed years of digital transformation of the economy into just a few months — opening up new possibilities and challenges. Many workers will likely spend the next year or two in a "hybrid economy," with work continuing at least partially remotely. That means it will be more important for people to have the tech skills to succeed in a totally new workplace.

Connecting the more than 3 billion people who today lack reliable internet access to the communications tools and essential services they need to participate in the modern economy is an essential first step. Broadband is the electricity of the 21st century. Without universal access to broadband, the economic recovery from COVID-19 will be neither comprehensive nor inclusive. The pandemic underscores the risks of a digital divide — increasing the reliance of households, small businesses, and entire economies on internet access, while leaving those without it further and further behind.

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Nearly half the world's population lacks internet connectivity at a time when digital communication has never been more critical. As part of a special partnership between Eurasia Group and Microsoft, GZERO Media examines the power of connecting more people—and how teaching digital skills could create the workforce the 21st century needs.

On October 7th, GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — presented a live panel discussion, "Digital Inclusion: Connectivity and Skills for the Next Billion Jobs," about the acceleration of digitalization, the changing workforce, and the need for digital access for all.

The conversation was moderated by Sherrell Dorsey, founder and CEO of The Plug, and our panel included:

  • Kate Behncken, Vice President, Microsoft Philanthropies
  • Lisa Lewin, CEO of General Assembly
  • Parag Mehta, Executive Director and Sr Vice President, Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth
  • Dominique Hyde, Director External Relations, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
  • Rohitesh Dhawan, Managing Director, Energy, Climate & Resources, Eurasia Group

Also featured: special appearances by Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and former president of Chile, and Doreen Bogdan-Martin of the International Telecommunications Union.

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John Frank, Vice President of UN Affairs at Microsoft, discusses how to include people around the world in the digital economy,on UNGA In 60 Seconds.

Satya Nadella famously said, "We saw two years of digital transformation in two months" due to the pandemic and the need it created for virtual communication, work, and learning, but still nearly half the world's population lacks connectivity.

First, how can we begin to bridge the digital divide? Then, how can digital skilling lead us into a better global economy?

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The coronavirus pandemic has radically accelerated the adoption of digital technology in the global economy, creating an opportunity for millions of new businesses and jobs. However, it has also left millions jobless and exposed yet another vulnerability: hundreds of millions of people lack access to this technology.

To be sure, this divide was already present before COVID-19 struck. But unequal access to the internet and technology is going to make the multiple impacts of the pandemic much worse for offline and unskilled communities, among others. In fact, there is not a single global digital gap, but rather several ones that the coronavirus will likely exacerbate.

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The twin blows of the coronavirus pandemic and the economic crisis it unleashed have added around 250 million globally to unemployment rolls. It has also changed the nature of work for many of those who have been lucky enough to keep their jobs. But this disruption has also accelerated digitalization, which Microsoft projects will create 149 million new jobs over the next five years. As more people learn to work from home, what does this mean for work, education, and skilling? We look at the new "digital" jobs that the global economy will need to fill by 2025, and which skills will be needed to get hired.

Teaching digital skills could empower the workforce the 21st century needs, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

On Wednesday, October 7th at 11a ET/8a PT/4p BST, GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — presented a live panel discussion, "Digital Inclusion: Connectivity and Skills for the Next Billion Jobs," about the acceleration of digitalization, the changing workforce, and the need for digital access for all.

The conversation was moderated by Sherrell Dorsey, founder and CEO of The Plug, and our panel included:

  • Kate Behncken, Vice President, Microsoft Philanthropies
  • Lisa Lewin, CEO of General Assembly
  • Parag Mehta, Executive Director and Sr Vice President, Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth
  • Dominique Hyde, Director External Relations, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
  • Rohitesh Dhawan, Managing Director, Energy, Climate & Resources, Eurasia Group
Also featured: a special appearance by Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and former president of Chile.

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GZERO, Microsoft & Eurasia Group @ UN General Assembly 2020
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UN75: Born out of global crisis, the UN confronts another

As the UN turns 75, the organization is revealing the results of a global survey of nearly a million people in 193 nations—what matters most to them, and how do they view the need for global cooperation at this time of unprecedented crisis? Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser Fabrizio Hochschild explains the purpose and findings of the report.

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The world is facing an unprecedented, once-in-a-lifetime crisis. World leaders and corporations alike need to not only rebuild, but reimagine what life could look like after the COVID-19 pandemic. In a special GZERO Media series, Eurasia Group and Microsoft experts present solutions to some of the biggest issues of the 21st century.

Moving Multilateralism Forward: Madeleine Albright, Caroline Kennedy, and John Frank discuss with young adults

Watch: "Moving Multilateralism Forward," an intergenerational dialogue between Madeleine Albright, former US Secretary of State; Caroline Kennedy, former US Ambassador to Japan; John Frank, Microsoft Vice President of UN Affairs; and four current and former students of the Marble Hill School for International Studies in the Bronx, NY. These veteran diplomats and young minds discuss the future of multilateralism, the unprecedented challenges facing the international community, the power of young people in leading change, and the promise that technology has to be a force for good.

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An interview with UN Secretary-General António Guterres

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Panel: How can we get to "net zero" to fight climate change?

On September 16, GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — gathered global experts on climate and sustainability to address the future of "net zero" in a livestream panel.

Our panel for the discussion on Net Zero: Climate Ambition and Action included:

  • Julia Pyper, host and producer of the Political Climate podcast (moderator)
  • Gerald Butts, Vice Chairman & Senior Advisor, Eurasia Group
  • Lucas Joppa, Chief Environmental Officer, Microsoft
  • Rachel Kyte, Dean of The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Mark Carney, Finance Adviser to the UK Prime Minister for COP 26 and UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance

Select quotes from our panelists:

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Video: Seeking digital peace, trust & security in cyberspace

As the UN turns 75, GZERO Media, Eurasia Group and Microsoft have teamed up to bring you a look at some of the most pressing global issues of the 21st Century. Here's a short look at a battlefield that has no borders—cyberspace, and efforts to create a safer digital world.

A more inclusive UN: Secretary-General Guterres on the future of multilateralism

In a new interview with GZERO World host Ian Bremmer, conducted on the eve of the 2020 General Assembly, UN Secretary-General António Guterres confronts the challenges of leading a multilateral organization in an increasingly nationalistic world. "I am not naïve," he tells Bremmer. "I know this is going to be a very tough ideological battle."

Watch the episode: UN Secretary-General António Guterres: Why we still need the United Nations

UNGA at 75: A unique UNGA for a post-pandemic UN

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The annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the world's largest diplomatic event, normally entails leaders and representatives from the 193 UN member states descending upon New York for a full week of speeches, high-stakes meetings between governments, and street protests. UNGA has also had its share of surprising moments, like Soviet premier Nikita Kruschev (allegedly) banging his shoe on the desk, or Venezuela's Hugo Chávez suggesting that US President George W. Bush was the devil himself.

This year's UNGA will be very different because of COVID-19. Hotels in New York won't be full of diplomats, metal detectors, and secret service agents. The "contact sport" of diplomacy will go virtual, with great uncertainty over how improvisational breakthroughs often found on the sidelines of UNGA summits will translate to the digital world. And more individuals from around the world than ever before will be able to take part. In other words, UNGA will be very different, but hardly less important (or dramatic).

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The Graphic Truth: What are vaccine hackers hacking?

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The invisible threat to global peace

One of the biggest threats to 21st century international peace is invisible. It recognizes no borders and knows no rules. It can penetrate everything from the secrets of your government to the settings of your appliances. This is, of course, the threat of cyberattacks and cyberwarfare.

During the coronavirus pandemic, cyberattacks have surged, according to watchdogs. This isn't just Zoom-bombing or scams. It's also a wave of schemes, likely by national intelligence agencies, meant to steal information about the development and production of vaccines. Attacks on the World Health Organization soared five-fold early in the pandemic.

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The Graphic Truth: A virtual UN General Assembly

This year's United General Assembly will be very different. Hotels in New York will not be full of famous heads of state, metal detectors, or US secret service agents as the coronavirus pandemic has turned the world's largest diplomatic gathering into a mostly online affair to enforce social distancing. A virtual UNGA requires a 20th century institution — which turns 75 and still thinks in analog in many ways — to rapidly embrace 21st century technology. How will UNGA adapt to its new virtual setting? Here are a few things that will change.

The pandemic is hurting women more than men

At the outset of the pandemic earlier this year, people in high places said that the coronavirus was shaping up to be the "great equalizer." But, in fact, the twin health and economic effects of the pandemic have been anything but equal. The poor have suffered and died more than the rich. Ethnic minorities in Europe and the US have borne the brunt. Pre-existing inequalities have been exposed, and deepened, by the disease.

Nowhere is that clearer than in the pandemic's disproportionate impact on women. What are the particular challenges for women in this crisis, and what does recovery look like for over half of the world's population?

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Digital peace: Trust and security in cyberspace

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Three years ago, long before anyone had ever heard of COVID-19, a different kind of virus spread around the world: a piece of malicious software code launched by a nation state. It paralyzed computer networks in hundreds of countries, disrupted global shipping, forced pharmaceutical factories to shut down, and inflicted an estimated $10 billion of economic damage.

On the physical battlefield, a widely accepted set of rules, backed by international law, governs conduct, with the aim of protecting soldiers and civilians. Establishing common rules or guardrails is much harder in cyberspace, where borders can't be easily defined and the tools and tactics of combat are always changing. But it has never been more urgent.

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The Graphic Truth: Who's been hit hardest by COVID job losses?

The pandemic has affected the working world in a slew of ways: the collapse of economic growth has put many out of work, while public health restrictions mean others cannot do their jobs even if they still have one. The UN calculates that the equivalent of 400 million full-time jobs were lost in the second quarter of this year, compared with the end of last year. That's 14 percent of all worldwide jobs. This number includes workers put on furlough or temporary leave, as well as those who are now unemployed. The burden has fallen disproportionately on women, and experts are worried that the pandemic will exacerbate inequalities in the workforce, given the large number of women who work in hard-hit sectors of the economy. We take a look at which regions have been hit hardest by pandemic-related job losses.