ASEAN bats for sustainable digital future

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is building an inclusive, human-centric and sustainable digital future for the region and its ten member states.

This was the gist of the Boracay Digital Declaration 2023 of the 3rd ASEAN Digital Ministers Meeting (ADGMIN) and the ASEAN Digital Senior Officials Meeting (ADGSOM) which concluded in Boracay Island, Aklan last week.

Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary Ivan John E. Uy chaired the five-day ADGMIN which made the declaration.

Furthermore, the DICT Secretary pushed to prioritize four areas, from safe cyberspace, citizen-centric governance and digital inclusion to innovation-driven economy.


The meeting also tackled previous and ongoing initiatives, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) Governance and Ethics; Contractual Clauses for International Data Transfers; the Quality of Experience (QoE) Framework; the Standard to Exchange Data and Information Related to Disaster; Green Digital Initiatives; Digital Infrastructure and Service Development; the Technical and Regulatory Framework for Broadband Networks; Digital Startups; an ASEAN Computer Emergency Response Team (ASEAN CERT) and Cybersecurity Assessment.

On addition, the regional body discussed the progress made in the second year of the ASEAN Digital Masterplan 2025 (ADM 2025).

The plan will transform the ASEAN into a leading digital community and economic bloc.

The group is likewise implementing the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework (ACRF) in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Their Digital Data Governance (WG-DDG) initiative, on the other hand, helps member states manage data and cross-border data flows to boost businesses’ ability in the digital economy.

For safety, they are enhancing cybersecurity measures consistent with the ASEAN Cybersecurity Cooperation Strategy 2021-2025 and the ASEAN Regional CERT Operational Framework.

Other notable reports and agreements include the development of an ASEAN Guide on AI Governance and Ethics in 2023.

This is an ASEAN digital transformation agenda to speed up economic recovery after the pandemic and digital economy integration of Member States.

The meetings also discussed the progress of developing the 5G ecosystem in the region.

In addition, dialogue partners of the ADGMIN pledged to help the region improve its cybersecurity posture and e-commerce landscape via capacity building and exchange of knowledge and best practices.

For this year, ASEAN hosted China, the European Union, India, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the United States of America (USA) as dialogue partners.

Overall, ASEAN digital ministers worked on the theme of “synergy towards a sustainable digital future”, according to DICT Secretary Uy.

Southeast Asia has to develop a digital landscape focused on human needs, cognizant of changing threats, and sensitive to existing digital divide, he reiterated.

“To achieve synergy is to achieve a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. This is aligned with the principle of the ASEAN—to create a community that multiplies the potential of its members to be a stronger and a more prosperous region,” Uy concluded.

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