Thursday, July 18, 2024

Advancing AI for sustainable development

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In a landmark gathering in Verona, Italy, ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) countries convened to address the pressing global discourse surrounding Artificial Intelligence (AI) under the theme of ‘Digital Development – Growing Together.’ This significant consensus underscored a collective recognition of the imperative need for collaborative efforts aimed at strengthening local AI digital ecosystems, particularly in developing nations. 

Led by the Italian G7 Presidency in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the discussions emphasized the paramount importance of fostering new multi-stakeholder partnerships to amplify local impacts in developing countries. Key areas identified for cooperation include the democratization of computing power, the development of open and secure data models, and capacity building to advance AI for sustainable development goals. 

Minister Adolfo Urso of the Ministry of Enterprises and Made in Italy expressed gratitude for the achieved consensus, highlighting the Italy-Africa Mattei Plan as a framework for engagement with Africa. This plan endeavors to democratize AI resources and promote inclusive development through partnerships with African governments, the private sector, and start-ups. 

The resonance of this consensus extends to ongoing efforts by the Brazilian G20 Presidency, which has also identified AI as a common priority for sustainable development. Ambassador Luciano Mazza de Andrade, Chair of Brazil’s G20 Digital Economy Working Group, lauded Italy’s leadership and expressed readiness to collaborate on advancing AI initiatives aimed at driving sustainable development and reducing inequalities. 

UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner emphasized the critical importance of bridging the gap between global discussions and local impacts. He underscored the significance of ensuring equitable access to AI resources to unlock its potential for addressing global challenges, including climate action and socio-economic development. 

Looking forward, the Italian G7 Presidency and UNDP have committed to sustaining their engagement by co-designing an AI Hub for Sustainable Development in 2024, with a focus on partnerships with countries in Africa. This initiative aims to engage stakeholders from the technology industry and start-ups committed to advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

In essence, this consensus marks a significant milestone in the global dialogue on AI development. By prioritizing collaboration and inclusivity, G7 countries and their partners are taking tangible steps towards harnessing AI for sustainable and equitable development on a global scale. As we continue to embrace AI as a catalyst for positive change, it is imperative to ensure that its benefits are accessible to all, driving progress towards a more prosperous and sustainable future for communities worldwide. 

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