IGF 2018 WS #104 Well-being in the Digital Age (OECD Going Digital Project)

Salle XI

Sub-theme description: Well-being (encompassing health, the environment, work, safety, privacy, and digital security, among others).

Organizer 1: Molly Lesher, OECD
Organizer 2: Carlos da Fonseca, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Brazil
Organizer 3: Marc Rotenberg, Electronic Information Privacy Center (EPIC)
Organizer 4: Fabrice Murtin, OECD

Speaker 1: Fabrice Murtin, OECD (male)
Speaker 2: Molly Lesher, OECD (female)
Speaker 3: Mónica Aspé, Ambassador of Mexico to the OECD (female)
Speaker 4: Carlos da Fonseca, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Brazil (male)
Speaker 5: Claire Milne, Antelope Consulting (female)
Speaker 6: Valeria Milanes, Civil Society Information Society Advisory Council (female)
Speaker 7: Makoto Yokozawa, Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (male)
Speaker 8: Katie Watson, Internet Society, The Internet Society (female)


Molly Lesher

Online Moderator

Angela Attrey


Molly Lesher


Panel - 90 Min


The speakers will be invited to structure their interventions by responding to the following two questions: 1. What do you see as the three most important aspects for policymakers to consider when developing a digital policy framework to foster well-being for people and communities? 2. It is clear that there are both positive and negative impacts of digital technologies on the well-being of people and communities. How can policymakers best assess and manage the trade-offs? Given that we have a diverse range of perspectives on the panel (economists, lawyers, technologists, and current and former government officials from developing and developed countries), they should all bring a unique perspective to trying to help further develop an understanding on how to foster individual and societal well-being in the digital age. We will also identify several youth experts to intervene from the floor and/or online.


There are 6 women (Molly Lesher, Angela Attrey, Mónica Aspe, Claire Milne, Valeria Milanes and Katie Watson) and 3 men (Fabrice Murtin, Carlos da Fonseca and Makoto Yokozama) involved in the workshop. 5 different stakeholder groups are represented: governments (Brazil, Korea), intergovernmental organisations (OECD), civil society (Electronic Privacy Information Center), Internet technical community (The Internet Society), and business (Microsoft). 4 regions are represented: Asia-Pacific (Korea, Australia), Latin America (Brazil), Europe (France), and North America (United States). A range of different policy perspectives are represented, including economists (Fabrice Murtin, Molly Lesher), lawyers (Marc Rotenberg), civil society (Claire Milne and Valeria Milanes), and current and former government officials (Carlos da Fonseca and Mónica Aspe). If the workshop proposal is accepted, we will reach out to individuals on the Youth Expert List 2018 to invite several youth experts to participate actively in the workshop from the floor. In addition, the on-line moderator is a youth working on digital economy issues (24 years old).

The impact of digital technologies on well-being is in many cases still uncharted territory for policy-makers. This workshop would inform participants about the well-being component of the Going Digital project and seek feedback on the mapping of the related changes in society and the associated policy responses.

I. Opening and overview of the OECD Going Digital work on well-being (10 minutes, Fabrice Murtin, moderator, OECD)

II. Stakeholder perspectives on fostering well-being in the digital age (30 minutes):

The Mexican perspective – Mónica Aspe, Ambassador of Mexico to the OECD; The Brazilian perspective – Carlos da Fonseca, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Brazil; A Civil Society perspective – Claire Milne, Antelope Consulting; A Civil Society perspective – Valerie Milanes, Civil Society Information Society Advisory Council (CSISAC); The Business perspective – Makoto Yokozama, Business Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (BIAC); The Internet Technical Community Perspective – Katie Waston, The Internet Society.

III. Open discussion among participants and panelists (45 minutes)

IV. Closing (Fabrice Murtin, OECD, 5 minutes).

The use of the 2 discussion questions indicated above should help facilitate focused interventions from the speakers; they will also be useful as a means to engage with the audience, in person and on-line. Half of the session is dedicated to audience participation (in person and online), and it is expected that there will be a lively debate. Active participation from youth experts will be encouraged prior to the workshop. To the extent that the moderator needs to spur discussion, another discussion question directed to the audience will be used, such as: What aspects of well-being cannot be quantified -- at least not today -- and how would you go about addressing these policy issues from an evidence-based approach?

Digital technologies have both positive and negative impacts on the overall well-being of people and communities, with heterogeneous effects across population groups, depending on age, gender, income level or skill-set. This workshop would help shed light on how policymakers can develop a whole-of-government policy framework that balances all of the different well-being dimensions of the digital transformation for people and society more broadly, with a focus developing a measurement framework for well-being in the digital age. This policy question has risen to the top of the global digital agenda because technologies continue to develop rapidly and are combining in novel and innovative ways, pushing digital transformation in new and often unpredictable directions. On-going work under the OECD Going Digital project (see below) focuses on the opportunities and challenges of digital transformation for people’s well-being. The Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission has emphasised that economic growth is a means to enhance people’s well-being and not an end in itself. Likewise, digital transformation should not only bring about progress via intelligent and autonomous technologies, but also operate in conformity with human values, in particular fairness, to enhance people’s well-being. The OECD's Well-being Framework provides a good starting point to examine the impacts of digital transformation on people’s well-being because of its multidimensional nature. Preliminary findings from on-going OECD work suggest that designing appropriate policies becomes increasingly complicated as the digital transformation of economies and societies involves a radical change in how people live, work and interact. For example, growing pressures to compete with machines in the workplace; the use of algorithms and digital platforms enabling patient-managed healthcare and more efficient service delivery, but also related ethical risks and privacy concerns; and the impacts of automation on adolescents’ development and human relations, all illustrate how the new digital context affects the drivers of individuals’ well-being. In particular, better empirical evidence about large-scale data breaches and improper data collection and sharing with a range of different actors would help quantify this problem with a view to helping governments find constructive solutions to ensuring the well-being of its citizens. In January 2017, the OECD launched Going Digital: Making the Transformation Work for Growth and Well-being (the Going Digital project). The project aims to help policymakers better understand the digital transformation that is taking place and create a policy environment that enables their economies and societies to prosper in a world that is increasingly digital and data-driven. The work on well-being is one component of this broader project: www.oecd.org/going-digital.

Online Participation

The OECD will provide a trained online moderator to ensure that the workshop offers remote participation online, including by allowing for one online participant to intervene after every intervention by an in-person attendee. The online moderator will be in direct contact with the moderator in the room so adaptations can take place in a timely fashion. Before the workshop, the session will be promoted by all of the co-organisers (OECD, EPIC, Brazil) to try to encourage online participation.

Session Time
Session Report (* deadline 26 October) - click on the ? symbol for instructions

- Session Type (Workshop, Open Forum, etc.): 



- Title:

Well-being in the Digital Age (OECD Going Digital Project)


- Date & Time:

12 November, 10:30-12:00


- Organizer(s):

Molly Lesher, Carlos da Fonseca and Marc Rotenberg


- Chair/Moderator:

Molly Lesher


- Rapporteur/Notetaker:

Molly Lesher


- List of speakers and their institutional affiliations (Indicate male/female/ transgender male/ transgender female/gender variant/prefer not to answer):

  • Speaker 1: Fabrice Murtin, OECD (male)
  • Speaker 2: Molly Lesher, OECD (female)
  • Speaker 3: Mónica Aspé, Ambassador of Mexico to the OECD (female)
  • Speaker 4: Carlos da Fonseca, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Brazil (male)
  • Speaker 5: Claire Milne, Antelope Consulting (female)
  • Speaker 6: Valeria Milanes, Civil Society Information Society Advisory Council (female)
  • Speaker 7: Makoto Yokozawa, Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (male)
  • Speaker 8: Katie Watson, Internet Society, The Internet Society (female)


- Theme (as listed here):

Development, Innovation & Economic Issues


- Subtheme (as listed here):

Internet & the Environment; Internet for Development & SDGs






- Please state no more than three (3) key messages of the discussion.


  • Connectivity underpins a positive and inclusive digital transformation.
  • Three issues were identified as being critical to promoting well-being in a technology rich environment: skills, trust and quality work.
  • The multi-stakeholder model was identified as essential to ensuring well-being in the digital age.


- Please elaborate on the discussion held, specifically on areas of agreement and divergence.

Well-being in the digital age is multi-faceted, and has varying ramifications for individuals and society as a whole. In particular, differences in quality access and connectivity persist across geography, while other factors like gender, age, income and level of education are often significant in determining the confident use of digital technologies. All panellists agreed that digital technologies could provide positive contributions for society, especially in terms of well-being, insofar as these technological tools are used appropriately provided that there is effective policy guidance. While many issues were mentioned, three stood out as being essential to ensuring well-being in the digital age.


First, skills were identified as one of the keys to making digital transformation positive and inclusive, and there was broad agreement that women and people of ethnic minorities are particularly impacted. Second, trust – including privacy, security and consumer protection – was identified as another important aspect to making digital transformation work for societal well-being. Indeed trust is earned when actions meet words, which is something that was widely agreed upon. As such, it was widely agreed that all stakeholders must work collaboratively in order to create a trustworthy and safe environment for the use of digital technologies and data. Third, quality work was identified as critical to promoting well-being in a technology-rich environment. In particular, participants highlighted that quality work is not just about a pay check, but about workers’ feelings of self-worth.


Participants agreed that ensuring that actors from bodies with diverse interests, from civil society to the business community, can help to ensure that policies are made with diverse and wide-ranging positive impacts. Ultimately, granting quality access and promoting the effective use of digital technologies across all portions of society will be a step closer towards ensuring well-being in an increasingly digital world.


- Please describe any policy recommendations or suggestions regarding the way forward/potential next steps.

While the OECD work to measure well-being from a digital perspective was much appreciated, the complexity of such an exercise requires the international community to work together to continue to push the well-being measurement agenda forward. This requires co-operation and co-ordination by the international statistical community and beyond. Participants also noted the need to expand access to digital technologies to all aspects of society, including rural and remote communities and those in the developing world. However, the panellists also noted that the benefits of digital technologies come from their use, which are often predicated on having digital skills. Therefore, initial policy recommendations must be primarily be two-fold. First, to provide access to digital technologies and, second, to provide tools and create environments in which to acquire the necessary digital skills needed for digital transformation. This would promote a holistic digital transformation of society with the intent of minimal drawbacks on societal well-being, whilst also striving to dispel any negative repercussions caused by a digital divide between those that possess digital skills and those that do not.


- What ideas surfaced in the discussion with respect to how the IGF ecosystem might make progress on this issue?

The panellists repeatedly mentioned the need to include many diverse communities and perspectives in the digital policymaking process, and affirmed the role of the multi-stakeholder process. To this end, the IGF eco-system can help to foster discussion and come to agreement on the cross-cutting issues associated with well-being in the digital age, including digital skills, trust and more. Moreover, it cannot be denied that, thanks to the United Nation’s wide-reaching convening power, the IGF’s geographical positioning at the UNESCO’s Headquarters in Paris this year meant that high-level officials and policy-makers were guaranteed to attend and therefore participate and foster progress on issues such as internet governance, which have proven to be so crucial in today’s digital transformation.


- Please estimate the total number of participants.



- Please estimate the total number of women and gender-variant individuals present.

20 (approximately 40%)


- To what extent did the session discuss gender issues, and if to any extent, what was the discussion?

The panellists underscored gender as a significant dimension that determines access to and the use of digital technologies, and noted that the digital gender divide constituted a major risk for well-being in the digital age. Other particular gender issues were discussed, including that men tend to work longer hours in digital intensive jobs than women. Conversely, however, it was also mentioned that digital transformation allows more women to access and leverage digital skills than ever before.


- Session outputs and other relevant links (URLs):