Statement by H.E. Mr. Andrejs Pildegovičs, Permanent Representative of Latvia to the United Nations, at the Ministerial Videoconference “Close the Digital Divides: the Digital Response to COVID-19”

02.07.2020. 16:25

Your Excellencies, distinguished participants,

Latvia joined this Group of Friends last year, committed to contribute to discussions on global international issues related to cybersecurity and e-governance. At that time, we could not foresee the challenges we will face as a global society this year.

Only now, we can truly realize the role that digital transformation plays to build resilience to crises like we experience today.

Therefore, we thank Estonia and Singapore for organizing this video conference and for launching the Global declaration on the Digital Response to COVID-19 that we are delighted to join as co-sponsors.

We are here to listen to and to share solutions that might help to overcome hardships and to build stronger societies.

We believe that governments play a vital role in providing an enabling environment in support of innovative solutions, acceleration of digitalization and improvement of population’s digital skills. Therefore, Latvia welcomes the Secretary General’s Roadmap on Digital Cooperation. It highlights essential issues, including ensuring universal digital access, fully respecting human rights online, as well as mitigating the risks related to the use of new technologies.

One of such risks is the spread of “infodemic” we have witnessed since the Covid-19 outbreak. To respond to this challenge, Latvia alongside a cross-regional group of countries has called for action to fight misinformation and disinformation.

The Covid-19 crisis clearly showed that governments in collaboration with IT companies can swiftly develop effective solutions and let me share a few examples from Latvia’s experience:

-Latvia’s Parliament was among the first in the world to fully shift to remote work in a newly developed e-platform. It ensures the opportunity to debate and to vote in a real term. Access to the system is provided by another e-solution - secure authentication method called e-signature. Thus, the Parliament’s work during pandemic remained transparent and everyone could follow the meetings online;

-Latvia was the first country to launch a Google-Apple friendly application “STOP COVID” created by Latvian IT companies to trace and limit the spread of the virus. This app is fully compliant with the EU Data protection and privacy requirements. It meets democratic standards, is voluntary, free or charge and safe;

-To ensure the continuity of everyday services provided by public and private institutions, we developed different e-solutions, including ensured digital distance learning for all students during pandemic.

We stand ready to share our unique tools to support the solution’s adaptations in all interested countries and to continue engaging on these issues with an aim of harnessing full potential of new technologies for the benefit of everyone.