Policy report

This policy paper explores the role and value of ‘digital minilateralism’. Minilaterals are small, trust-based, knowledge creating and sharing, innovation-oriented networks. Digital minilateralism describes those minilateral networks both committed to digital governance and using ‘digital’ culture, practices, processes and technologies as tools to advance peer learning, support and cooperation between governments.

Key findings:

  • Already beginning to prove effective, digital minilateralism has a role to play in shaping how individual governments learn, adopt and govern the use of new and emerging technologies, and how they create common or aligned policy. In the future, it will also have a role to play as countries navigate the possibility of increasingly interoperable or cross-border digital infrastructure and services.
  • National governments should recognise and reinforce the strategic value of digital minilaterals without stamping out, through over-bureaucratisation, the qualities of trust, open conversation, and ad-hocness in which their value lies.
  • As digital minilateral networks grow and mature, they will need to find mechanisms through which to retain (or adapt) their core principles while scaling across more boundaries. There is no single ‘magic number’ for digital minilateralism, but networks must carefully consider their objectives and the range and quantity of countries that can best help them to achieve them.
  • Effective transgovernmental digital cooperation requires new skills from digital leaders and policymakers. There is increasing recognition that public servants across policy domains require digital ‘upskilling’. Yet the skills required of digital professionals in government are also evolving. The skill of forum selection and participation is likely to become increasingly critical within the digital policymakers’ toolkit.
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