Next Steps with the Digital Principles Advisory Council

In December 2018, the Principles for Digital Development established its first-ever Advisory Council (DPAC), marking one of the most important achievements for DIAL as the steward of the Digital Principles to date. In its role as steward, DIAL continuously seeks to respond to and invest in the shifting needs in the digital development community through advocacy and resource development for practitioners; to better serve the sector, the Principles team at DIAL established the Advisory Council – composed of some of the most well-respected digital development experts from a broad variety of sectors, organizations, and geographies – in order to guide and provide input into DIAL’s work related to the Principles for Digital Development. 

Digital Principles Advisory Council (Not pictured: Josh Mandell, IBM)

As technology becomes an increasingly central component to many development programs, the DPAC recognizes the importance of keeping the Digital Principles relevant for the future and creating an inclusive community by bringing in a broader array of voices to discuss, debate, and refine the Principles over time. The first Council meeting was held virtually in December 2018 to establish means for collaboration between its members and visions for the future of the Digital Principles. 

This past April in Kampala, Uganda, the DPAC met again to identify concrete, actionable steps towards shaping the evolution of the Digital Principles. The two-day convening (held in advance of the annual ICT4D Conference) allowed members to meet one another in person, build comradery, and receive Principles advocacy and resource training including content from the Principles 101 Training Course. Most notably, the Council identified avenues of partnerships with DIAL and one another, maintaining enthusiasm from December’s teleconference as they helped to draft a tentative five-year strategy for the Principles. 

Nora Lindstrom and Sandra Aluoch play the Digital Principles/SDG card game
Jaclyn Carlsen, DPAC Chairperson Lilian Nduati, and Henry Mwanyika testing materials from the Digital Principles 101 Course

Seizing on the momentum of increased endorsement and awareness over the past year (the 179th organization endorsed on June 24, 2019), the Council discussed new strategic audiences and partners, such as youth leaders, the private sector, government bodies, and technology hubs. They also committed to actionable items such as taking the first steps to creating a Digital Principles Youth Steering Committee, providing input for a future online course, and giving feedback on how to apply the Digital Principles to issues such as AI, gender inclusion, and ethics.  

Given that we’re doing development in a digital world, the Principles are increasingly relevant to all our work in international development,” said Nora Lindstorm, Council Member and Global Lead for Digital Development at PLAN International. “We still have some work to do in terms of enabling practice of the Principles, but I’m very pleased to see they are becoming an industry standard.”  

This was especially evident at ICT4D, where mention of the Digital Principles’ use was incorporated into several discussions and panels throughout the week, demonstrating their potential to bridge work within the digital development sector. Additionally, these discussions and case studies presented a ripe opportunity to engage new voices in the discussion of how the Principles are being put into practice. 

Channé Suy Lan and Stefan Germann brainstorming

Conversations will continue between DIAL and the Advisory Council later this summer to build a comprehensive understanding of immediate needs and emerging trends within the development sector. For the latest updates on Digital Principles, follow @digiprinciples on Twitter and use the hashtag #digitalprinciples.