Common statement on the importance of promoting digital inclusion as a central part of the digital transformation in the Nordic-Baltic region
The Nordic and Baltic countries are at the forefront of digitalisation in Europe. This is continuously demonstrated for example by our success in the European Commission’s Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), where all of the Nordic and Baltic countries fare well above EU average in the digital public services dimension. This year, the European Commission presented its vision and avenues for Europe’s digital transformation by 2030. We, the Nordic and Baltic ministers for digitalisation, support this vision and the EU’s digital compass, which revolves around digital skills, infra-structures, businesses and digital public services.
In the Nordic-Baltic region, COVID-19 has transformed the everyday lives of our citizens and businesses. This rapid transformation has challenged everyone to adapt to a new, digital everyday, highlighting the importance of accessible, reliable and usable digital public services and the smooth cross-border exchange of information. Furthermore, the digitalisation of our societies emphasizes the importance of human capital – of digital literacy, digital skills and competences – to the point where digital skills have truly become the civic skills of the 21st century. Consequently, the lack of digital skills, digital literacy, sufficient connectivity or access to digital public services forms the basis of inequality in digitalised, 21st-century societies. These digital divides challenge us as public authorities to develop policy measures to support and ensure the inclusion of everyone in our societies in the digital transformation. Everyone should benefit from digitalisation regardless of age, wealth, education or level of digital skills.
We, the Nordic and Baltic ministers for digitalisation, want to ensure that the Nordic-Baltic region maintains its position as a leader in digitalisation. To achieve this, we need to be frontrunners also in digital inclusion. To that effect, we will strive to implement measures to make digital services more accessible to all our inhabitants and we will take steps to ensure that those who do not possess the necessary level of skills will get the opportunity to acquire.
Our societies in the Nordic-Baltic region are built on democracy, equality, human capital and social responsibility. We need to make sure that the digital transformation of our region adheres to these principles now and in the future. Digital inclusion is a prerequisite to a successful digital transformation and the competitiveness of our region. Therefore, we are working for an inclusive, human-centered digital transformation, where all citizens and businesses in Nordic-Baltic societies can benefit from digitalisation, and no one is left behind.