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Session 9: Digitalization and International Development


Digitalization and International Development: Past, Present and Future


Digital technologies and transformative innovations are having an impact in most aspects of our societies. The transformative nature of digital technologies comes with unforeseen consequences, including increased risks, exacerbation of biases and discrimination, and potentially catastrophic impacts on global health, democracy, and the environment. However, they are also offering unprecedented opportunities for inclusion across all development sectors.

For the past three decades, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) has been at the forefront, championing research and innovation on digital technologies within and alongside the Global South. As we gather to reflect on the past, present, and future, this panel seeks to distill insights from recent and emerging investments. Delving into the evolving tapestry of data governance, artificial intelligence, digital transformation and international development, the session aims to foster discussions on the pivotal role that Canada's international collaboration and Southern expertise should play in shaping the global digital transformation agenda.

The panel endeavors to provoke introspection and dialogue among participants around the following questions:

  • How have our perspectives on digital transformation and international development evolved over the past decades?
  • Have we effectively harnessed the potential of data and digital technologies for sustainable development? If so, what have we learned?
  • What sets the current digital landscape apart, and what emerging issues are influencing core sectors in international development?

Join us as we unravel the threads of transformation, exploring the intricate interplay between the role of data, digital technologies and international development.


Dr. Evan Due is an Executive Fellow at the School of Public Policy, University of Calgary.  He has more than 30 years experience in international development, trade and economics, and public policy.  His professional experience includes working for the United Nations, IDRC, and Global Affairs Canada.  He holds a doctorate from the University of Sussex, U.K.

Presenters / Panellists:

Dr. Fernando Perini is the Team Leader for Education and Science at Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC). In the past 15 years, Fernando led a portfolio of projects advancing data ecosystems in developing countries in order to spur social change, increase government transparency, and support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In recent years he has contributed to several strategic IDRC initiatives, including open data for development, feminist open government, and artificial intelligence for development. Fernando has extensive international experience as a researcher, consultant, and lecturer, and holds a PhD from the University of Sussex (Science Policy Research Unit) in the management of technology and innovation.

Prof. Jeremy de Beer is a professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa, where he creates and shapes ideas about technology innovation, intellectual property, and global trade and development. He is also a Faculty Member of the Centre for Law, Technology and Society, a Senior Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), and a Senior Research Associate at the University of Cape Town’s IP Unit.

Mylène Bordeleau is a Program Officer for Democratic and Inclusive Governance at IDRC. The division is centered on two priorities: promoting vibrant and inclusive civic spaces that facilitate participation of all people in society; and strengthening accountable and transparent governance institutions.  She brings over twelve years of project and research management experience in the fields of gender equality, data and digital innovations, and inclusive governance, and has supported flagship initiatives including Open Data for Development and the Data for Development network.

Natasha Chhabra is a researcher and consultant. She has over a decade of experience in policy research, advocacy, and monitoring and evaluation. Currently, she is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is also an independent consultant providing support to a global survey on Technology-Facilitated Gender-Based Violence being conducted by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and an advisory committee member for the Feminist Internet Research Network (FIRN).