DA2124B Project: Frontier Technology Policy Experimentation and Regulatory Sandboxes in Asia and the Pacific

Brief Description: Frontier technologies carry a promise to fast track the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through supporting innovative, forwarding-looking policies and solutions. There are, however, numerous risks and complexities of digital technologies that come along with those opportunities, as well as policy and regulatory challenges. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has not only brought about unprecedented challenges to sustainable development, but have also accelerated digital government and digital transformation in many areas. At the same time, the pandemic has exposed harsh fragilities and digital divides especially for countries in special situations.

 

Objective/Purpose of Project: The overall purpose of the project is to enhance the institutional capacity of selected countries in special situations, namely the: (i) least developed countries (LDCs); (ii) landlocked developing countries (LLDC); and (iii) small island developing States (SIDS). The specific focus of the project is to conceptualize, develop and implement policy experimentation and/or regulatory sandboxes on new technologies, as an innovative and catalytic approach to accelerate the progress of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

 

Key Accomplishments: The evidence of the result, if achieved, will include the following aspects:

(i) Enhanced institutional capacity of selected countries to identify opportunities and gaps (institutional, policy, regulatory, and infrastructure support) on policy experimentation and regulatory sandboxes in new technologies, and where relevant, in support of COVID-19 response and/or recovery;

(ii) Improved capacity of target countries to conceptualize and implement pragmatic solutions on operationalizing policy experimentation and regulatory sandboxes in new technologies, in specific areas/sectors related to SDG targets, and COVID-19 recovery, where appropriate; and

(iii) Enhanced global and regional dialogue and cooperation among countries and stakeholders on policy experimentation and regulatory sandboxes in new technologies; for possible scale-up and replication in other countries.

 

Partners: UN DESA, UN ESCAP

Time Frame: January 2021 - December 2024

Focus Countries: Bangladesh (LDC), Kazakhstan (LLDC), Maldives (SIDS)

Bangladesh
  • Bangladesh gave support and interest to be involved with the project on the margins of the of the Committee on ICT and Science, Technology and Innovation on 29-30 August 2020. Through its past capacity development efforts, DESA has also developed a close working relationship with the Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology, the Office of the SDG Principal Coordinator (under the Prime Minister’s Office), as well as its Access-to-Information (a2i) Office.

     

    Through two separate bilateral meetings with DESA, H.E. Minister Mustafa Jabbar expressed appreciation and requested DESA’s continued support in providing technical assistance to its “Digital Bangladesh” national strategy. Resident Coordinator Ms. Mia Seppo indicated that digital exclusion continues to be a concern for Bangladesh, but an enabling policy and regulatory environment for innovation will support the post-COVID-19 recovery and growth of the Bangladesh economy.

     

    Though regular virtual meeting with the Government (fortnightly since March 2011), the following areas are identified for implementation: capacity development, market access and financial access of the cottage, micro, small and medium enterprises (CMSMEs) which form the backbone of the economy and broadband equity and leaving no one behind

  • The cottage, micro, small and medium enterprises (CMSMEs) suffered the most during the COVID-19 pandemic because they had poor market access and were not digitally enabled, despite Government relief measures such as large subsidies in the form of low-interest loans. To tackle this issue, the Project will explore experiments and sandboxes around policy and regulatory reforms, ensuring CMSMEs’ access to information about new businesses, new types of skills, markets (especially digital markets), finance, technology and innovation, and business support services. In addition, a CMSME Hub for Digital Acceleration was built to implement the policy reforms, leaves no business behind.

     

     

  • Document
  • Digital Acceleration of CMSMEs, Leaving no business behind, Bangladesh
  • The second area is on broadband equity and leaving no one behind. This issue has become a lifeline for all citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic. 43 million students and 1 million teachers need Internet access for online or remote learning; the use of telehealth services has increased by up to 300%; the e-commerce market is currently worth 2 billion USD with 200 e-commerce sites. However, because of the significant digital connectivity gap, 65% of secondary and 80% of primary school students do not have access to affordable and reliable Internet and citizens in the rural areas are unable to access telehealth and e-commerce services. To deal with this issue, the Project would explore experiments and sandboxes around technology pilots to leverage different technologies to reliably cover underserved areas in certain districts; policy experimentation to ensure equitable broadband for all including social obligation funds and other innovative funding schemes for one-time fixed costs and recurring monthly charges for data; and a regulatory sandbox for innovation PPP arrangements and business models to make broadband affordable, including partnerships with global initiatives.

  • First National Workshop
  • The first national workshop takes place in two phases. During the first phase, two virtual workshops will be organized -- one one CMSMEs and the other on Broadband equality.

     

    Phase I: Two-hour Virtual workshops

    Part I: Virtual Workshop on CMSMEs

    Date: Tuesday, 31 May 2022

    Time: 10:00AM - 11:30AM

    Part II: Virtual Workshop on Broadband

    Date: Wednesday, 15 June 2022

    Time: 10:00AM - 11:30AM

     

    Phase II: Two-day in-person Workshop

    Date: Wednesday & Thursday, 22 & 23 June 2022

     

    Objective

    The objectives of the Phase I workshop are to:

     

    (a) engage stakeholders from different agencies to participate in the official dialogue and knowledge exchange on policy experimentation and regulatory sandboxes;

    (b) discuss the existing opportunity and gap assessments for proposed project focus areas, emerging from dialogue and interaction among workshop participants;

    (c) identify the next course of action in strategic planning and implementation for setting up a policy experimentation framework or regulatory sandbox environment; and

    (d) share and exchange what has been happening on each of these topics.

     

    The objectives of the Phase II workshop are to:

     

    (a) define the sandbox’s structure and identify the policy/regulation that is to be tested through breakout discussion groups;

    (b) discuss the corresponding elements and detailed process required for setting up a policy experiment framework or a regulatory sandbox;

    (c) discuss and formulate a detailed plan, including confirming the regulator, verifying team capacity and resources, and establishing eligibility criteria, time frame, tools and enforcement;

    (d) identify possible risks and challenges and propose corresponding measures; and

    (e) identify the possible measurements to manage the expectations of the project and discuss further resource mobilization options.

Kazakhstan
  • H.E. Mr. Ospanov Ablaykhan Yesenovich, Vice Minister, Ministry of Digital Development, Innovation and Aerospace Industry, of Kazakhstan supported the project idea and confirmed the interest of Kazakhstan to be part of the project during bilateral meetings held with Vincenzo Aquaro, Chief of Digital Government, Division for Public Institutions and Digital Government, UNDESA, and Tiziana Bonapace, Director, ICT and DRR Division, ESCAP, during the Digital Almaty Forum, of the Ministry of Digital Development, Innovations and Aerospace Industry of the Republic of Kazakhstan, on 30-31 January 2020. Kazakhstan is in the process of developing an international technopark of IT startups (Astana Hub) which is well aligned with the project.

     

    Since June 2021 regular weekly meetings were set up with government counterparts in Kazakhstan to start implementation of the DA project. A working group was established representing a number of stakeholders from the government, public and private entities to advance regulatory sandboxes initiatives.

     

    Through weekly meetings,two focus areas are identified for implementation: (i) the possibility of a regulatory sandbox for autonomous vehicles in public transport and (ii) to assist Kazakhstan in achieving three broader goals - Decentralization, Digitalization, and Decarbonization in energy sector.

  • The first focus area is on the possibility of a regulatory sandbox for autonomous vehicles in public transport as policy base for which is rooted in the principles of developing innovation as part of the implementation of domestic IT solutions by the business community and start-up projects, eliminating of administrative barriers in the implementing of innovative projects, and attracting domestic and international investors. Through this proposed sandbox, the Government seeks to utilize autonomous vehicles as taxis available for public use as part of creating a more inclusive society, particularly with accessibility to the aging population in mind, as delivery vehicles for medicine and food, and as a mode of both long and short-distance shipping with the expectation of bringing about a reduction in the number of vehicle accidents, improve the efficiency of road use, increase the investment attractiveness of Kazakhstan, and increase transport accessibility for people with disabilities. It is expected that the use of autonomous vehicles will be met with approval given that the government will develop legal norms for the operation of such vehicles, that such vehicles improve road safety through speed abuse and drunk driving exceptions and the reduction of the volume and number of traffic jams in megacities. Furthermore, through the acceptance of the usage of autonomous vehicles it is expected that cities and other human settlements will be made more inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.

     

  • Document
  • Regulatory sandbox for autonomous vehicles
  • The second project area is in energy sector, seeking to assist Kazakhstan in achieving three broader goals: Decentralization, Digitalization, and Decarbonization. In the past, there has been a lack of interest on the part of energy-producing organisations in the introduction of energy-efficient and energy saving technologies. There has also existed a high level of amortisation of electrical networks and shortages in electrical grid capacity in a number of regions. On the part of the Government, there is a lack of a separate regulatory framework that allows the Government to form an effective state policy in the field of heat supply and to regulate the relationship of subjects of district heat supply markets. Moreover, the insufficient level of automation of the energy industry poses an obstacle to accessing accurate operational data. With these problems being taken into consideration, the following policy directions will serve as the foci of the regulatory sandbox for the energy sector. In order to achieve decentralisation, electricity generation sources are to be decentralised and network infrastructure will be developed. In order to achieve digitalisation, a centre of technological competence will be created and the information security of modernised trading platforms will be strengthened. In order to achieve decarbonisation, the focus will be on both the decarbonisation of the energy generation sector as well as the development of the renewable and alternative energy sources sectors.

     

  • Document
  • Decentralization, Digitalization, and Decarbonization
  • First National Workshop
Maldives
  • With regard to the specific demand of Maldives, H.E. Mr. Mohamed Maleeh Jamal, Minister of Communication, Science and Technology, supported the project initiative in the margins of the Committee on ICT and Science, Technology and Innovation on 29-30 August 2020. Mr. Mohamed Shareef, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Communication, Science and Technology was consulted as well and has given support and interest for the Maldives to be involved in the project, in recognizing the potential for the Maldives to identifying gaps and developing innovative policies and strategies to successfully foster technological growth and accelerate the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.

     

    The identified focus area is digital economy.

  • The Maldives has actively engaged in other ESCAP projects including chairing the Drafting Group of the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway action plan 2022-2026. The action plan outlines a blueprint for regional cooperation on three pillars of connectivity for all, digital technologies and applications, and digital data. Frontier technologies was recognized as one key complement of digital technologies for digital transformation.

     

    The evaluation feedback survey of the meeting found that 68 per cent of the 49 participants that responded to the survey strongly agreed that the meeting has effectively achieved its objectives of this strategic consultation on the opportunities and challenges on “Digital Currency” and “Mobile Wallet. Also, 83 per cent of the 49 participants that responded to the survey strongly agreed that the discussions in this meeting have contributed to identifying policy gaps and regulatory pitfalls on policy experimentation framework and regulatory sandbox in pursuing "Digital Currency" and "Mobile Wallet." Lastly, 83 per cent of the 49 participants that responded to the survey strongly agreed that the key issues discussed in the meeting has enhanced their understanding and capacity on how to approach to pragmatic solutions on operationalizing policy experimentation and regulatory sandboxes on "Digital Currency" and "Mobile Wallet".

     

  • Document
  • Frontier Technology Policy Experimentation and Regulatory Sandboxes in Asia and the Pacific, Maldives
  • First National Consultation
  • A virtual national consultation for the Maldives on "Frontier Technology Policy Experimentation and Regulatory Sandboxes" was held on 7 September 2021.

     

    The objectives of the national consultation were to:

     

    (1) conduct in-depth consultation with national stakeholders and experts to identify key focus areas of the pilot project; and

    (2) discuss the next course of actions in strategic planning and implementation for advancing the project in the Maldives.

     

    The event was attended by 49 participants from government ministries, regulator, central bank and local technology companies. As a result, the government of Maldives recognised that the policy experimentation and regulatory sandboxes is an essential tool for introducing the most relevant technologies for national development. National participants confirmed their two sectors as priority pilot project namely "Central Bank Digital currency (CBDC)" and "Mobile Wallet".

     

    In addition, participants during the meeting emphasised the key role of government and relevant stakeholders to lead the project implementation; highlighted the importance of establishing a framework for operating CBDC ‘;and Mobile Wallet; and emphasized the role of government in advancing financial inclusion. In addition, the participants highlighted the vital role of digital education and literacy to maximize the project’s deliverables.

     

  • First National Workshop
  • Date: Tuesday & Wednesday, 12 & 13 July 2022

Global Activity
  • The Sensitization Workshop on the UN DESA/ESCAP Project on Frontier Technology Policy Experimentation and Regulatory Sandbox for three Project Countries was composed of three sessions. In the opening session, the importance of the piloting project on frontier technology policy experimentation and regulatory sandboxes in accelerating the pace of digitalization and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was highlighted by Mr. Vincenzo Aquaro and Ms. Tiziana Bonapace. It also noted that it is necessary to embark on the project for the Asia and Pacific because of the existence of gaps between advanced economies and developing regions. Three key messages were delivered: first, frontier technologies bring both opportunities and challenges for governments; second, affordable and broad connectivity is of vital importance; and third, a clear and common understanding by all stakeholders of the project outputs and deliverables is crucial.

     

    The Resident Coordinators from two project countries, Bangladesh and the Maldives, shared their perspectives for this project. Although Bangladesh began its Digital Bangladesh project years ago, digital divides still exist, leaving people, particularly women and marginalized groups, behind. The Maldives, as a small island developing state, is confronted by geographical limitations that make sustained and innovative investment in technology extremely necessary. In addition, the actual digital platforms cannot support usage of the Internet, technology capacity and potential connections to the global market. Given this, the workshop was expected to be a chance for the three project countries to share their experiences and learn from one another.

  •  

    The key objectives of the workshop are to:

     

    (a) sensitize project stakeholders on the concept, knowledge and experience (through case studies) on policy experimentation and regulatory sandboxes;

    (b) discuss the existing opportunity and gap assessments for proposed project focus areas of recipient countries, emerging from dialogue and interaction among workshop participants; and

    (c) identify the next course of action in strategic planning and implementation for advancing the project.

     

  • Documents
  • Agenda
  • Concept Note
  • Experts' bio
  •  
  • Statements
  • Opening Statement, Mr. Vincenzo Aquaro, UN DESA
  • Opening Statement, Ms. Tiziana Bonapace, ESCAP
  • Opening Remarks by Ms. Catherine Haswell
  • Opening Remarks for UNRC, Ms. Mia Seppo
  • Frontier technologies carry a promise to fast track the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through supporting innovative, forwarding-looking policies and solutions. There are, however, numerous risks and complexities of digital technologies that come along with those opportunities, such as the widening digital divides as well as policy and regulatory challenges.

     

    In recent years, relatively new approaches of policy experimentation and regulatory sandboxes have emerged among somecountries. These approaches have proven to be effective in creating a more conducive and contained space where governments, in partnerships with relevant stakeholders, can experiment and trial with digital technologies and innovations at the edge or outside of the existing policy space and regulatory framework.

     

    It is in this context that the United Nations Development Account DA2124B project has been conceived, with the objective to enhance the institutional capacitiesof selected countries in special situations2to understand, conceptualize, develop and implement policy experimentation and regulatory sandboxes to accelerate the progress of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Project aims to support recipient countries in building capacity to identify and establish means for policy experimentation and regulatory sandboxes. Concrete project outcomes may be translatedinto policy documents or implementation strategies, including through multistakeholder partnership with the private sector, civil societyand other relevant stakeholders.

     

    The objectives of the kick-off event are to:

     

    (a) engage ministerial participation from target countries, as well as senior officials from UN (Under-Secretary-Generals from UN DESA and UN ESCAP) on the official kick-off of the UN Development Account Project on policy experimentation and regulatory sandboxes;

    (b) share the identified focus areas, gap assessmentsand implementation plans among the three target countries.

     

  • Documents

     

    Agenda

    Concept Note