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Financing Digitalisation for Inclusive and Green Growth: Delivering on Global Gateway and the SDGs 

12.06.2023 Brussels 16.06.2023

On Monday, 12th June 2023, a significant event sponsored by the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union titled “Financing Digitalisation for Inclusive and Green Growth: Delivering on Global Gateway and the SDGs” took place at the SQUARE Meeting Centre in Brussels, Belgium. This event aimed to explore innovative methods of mobilizing funds and matching financing needs to facilitate sustainable and human-centred digital transformation. Our Director of Policy and Partnerships, Laure Blanchard Brunac, took part in the panel discussion “Innovative financing to bridge the connectivity divide”. The opening session keynote was Maria Håkansson, CEO, Swedfund, the Swedish Development Finance Institution, and CEO of Finnfund, the DFI of Finland, Jaakko Kangasniemi participated in the second session.    

Digital transformation plays a crucial role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, many lower-income countries face significant challenges in financing their digital transformation agendas, leading to a digital gap within and between nations. Insufficient funding for connectivity, digital infrastructure, and government services hinders their potential to contribute to sustainable development and inclusive growth. 

Addressing this issue requires collaboration between the public and private sectors. While private capital is the primary source of funding for digital transformation, policy and regulation must create an enabling environment for sustainable and profitable investments. The Global Gateway, the key strategy implemented under the Team Europe approach, offers opportunities to support the SDGs and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda by providing investment packages and financing flagship projects for Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI). These plans can facilitate digital transformation toward a green transition and sustainable poverty reduction. 

Financing Digitalisation for Inclusive and Green Growth: Delivering on Global Gateway and the SDGs

Financing Digitalisation for Inclusive and Green Growth: Delivering on Global Gateway and the SDGs

The panel discussion, where Laure participated, “Innovative financing to bridge the connectivity divide,” focused on exploring financing methods and strategies to address the global digital divide. This divide refers to the imbalance in global connectivity and the need for substantial investments in digital infrastructure to achieve last-mile connectivity, even in commercially challenging areas. Bridging this gap requires a broader investor base, robust financing tools, supportive policies, and improved coordination systems. 

By exploring successful business models that incentivize investment from different players, the panellists discussed partnership models that shared risks and benefits. They emphasized the need for public and private collaboration to enable financing through mechanisms like guarantees and blended finance. Drawing on her expertise, Laure shed light on the importance of innovative financing models and their impact on digital transformation. The panelists shared their perspectives and insights on the questions of the successful business models that incentivise investment from different players, the partnership models where the risks and benefits are shared, and the change they would want to see (and drive) in the next 3 years. They discussed the role of the Global Gateway strategy in promoting European values and principles, ensuring openness, security, and digital sovereignty in sustainable connectivity rollout. 

The second session, where the CEO of Finnfund, Jaakko Kangasniemi participated, titled “Safe and meaningful connectivity: the European offer for sustainable infrastructure,” focused on the Global Gateway strategy’s aim to enhance investment in secure and resilient digital infrastructures as the foundation of the internet. The panelists shared best practices in financing connectivity and discussed sustainable digital infrastructure investments with developmental impact across sectors while upholding the principles of openness, security, and digital sovereignty. The session, featured a panel discussion and audience Q&A, addressing key questions related to unlocking sustainable investment in digital infrastructures, promoting European values through the Global Gateway strategy, and fostering an investment ecosystem to further develop digital infrastructure, industry, and services in partner countries, while also ensuring adequate environmental standards are met.

The event “Financing Digitalisation for Inclusive and Green Growth” served as a platform to foster collaboration and identify ways to mobilize funds for sustainable and human-centric digital transformation. By focusing on innovative financing models and partnerships, the panel discussion emphasized the potential to bridge the digital divide and accelerate progress towards inclusive and sustainable development. With continued efforts and collaboration between public and private sector actors, the event highlighted the importance of financing digitalisation to achieve the SDGs and ensure that no one is left behind in the digital age. By leveraging innovative financing mechanisms, policy frameworks, and collaborative partnerships, we can work towards a future where connectivity and digital infrastructure contribute to inclusive and green growth.