Daniela Arregui-Coka on Rethinking Digital Equity and Dynamics


Datasphere Initiative


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In the context of the #Youth4OurDataFuture project, the Datasphere Initiative spoke to a diverse group of young leaders about the role of young people in shaping how data and digital technologies are governed. Through a series of interviews, 19 young people from all over the world shared their insights on what an equitable data future looks like.

All participants were asked about how they would like to get involved in data governance discussions, make an impact, and how their ideas could reach centers of power and decision-makers. In addition to answering these questions, each participant selected two topics to discuss in depth.

Daniela Arregui-Coka, Ecuador/Germany, 28 years old, shared thoughts on bringing awareness around data sharing and ownership, and her experience with digital technologies concerning mental health.

Read more about the campaign and other contributions here.

How would you like to get involved in data governance discussions and make an impact? How could your ideas reach centers of power and decision-makers?

That is a difficult question because it is also a matter of accessing those dialogues and being able to be part of those discussions at a larger scale. I think in general, given that digital transformation, digital governance, and in general, digital technologies are such an instrumental part of our lives nowadays the thing is to bring awareness to our communities or people close to us about the impact of technology. Our data is being used. The key is to bring ideas about the fact that we do have power over what is being shared about us out there. And be more conscious of these interactions between digital technologies and society, aspects of democracy, and aspects of health.

What are your recommendations for policy-makers in creating a fair and inclusive digital future?

I think one key recommendation is to understand that not everybody experiences digital technology the same. And the impact is very different as well. I think digital technologies can create a lot of power imbalances at our global scale, but also in a country. Understand that not everything should be digitalized but that we should be a bit more intentional in the way that digital technologies are implemented and used. I think there’s a lot of hype about the potential and the opportunities of digital technologies, and often things about the impacts, the risks are not really taken into account.

As someone coming from Latin America, I believe that understanding the power imbalances that arise on a broader scale is crucial. The fact that we’re depending and dependent on foreign technology that is not necessarily made for us or with us in mind is also a very important thing. And keeping those aspects as part of the discussion could support this idea of making a digital society more fair and inclusive.

Data for the SDGs:

Are you aware of any existing initiatives to leverage the power of data to advance one or more Sustainable Development Goals (e.g., education, health, gender equality)?

I think maybe one initiative that is important to highlight is the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data. It’s a big network of organizations from different sectors trying to contribute to evidence-based decision-making to make sure that data is used positively and responsibly and thereby supports the SDGs.

Digital Welfare:

How does the content that you see online impact your mental health (positively or negatively)?

I try to stay informed as much as possible about what’s happening in the world but I think the pace on which we can access and receive information can become quite overwhelming. Especially because of the type of news and information that is being pushed to clickbait, or the things that you know are sold in the digital sphere. On the other hand, it’s also a matter of the amount of disinformation and misinformation that is out there. So even when trying to find the right sources, I find myself becoming a bit more distrustful of news and information, even when they come from trustworthy sources or are being expressed by experts, which I find quite interesting as a change in the last couple of years.

Daniela is an economist, specialized in digital transformation and digital development solutions. Daniela has five years of professional experience in this field where she has worked as a consultant, project, and research manager for organizations such as the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), UNESCO, the European Union (EU), and Mastercard Foundation.

In recent years, Daniela contributed to the development of data strategy for UNESCO’s work in disinformation, she led the development and implementation of a digital maturity assessment platform for NRC and the development of a big data-driven monitoring platform for the Mastercard Foundation’s work in Africa. Currently, Daniela is evaluating an ITC-led program at the intersection of digital transformation and agribusiness.

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