Conference25.09.2019, New York

Our Common Digital Future Charter for a Sustainable Digital Age

The recently published report of the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation recommends to develop goals, principles and priority actions for a Global Commitment for Digital Cooperation.

The German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) strongly supports this proposal. Considering the great transformative force of digitalization, it is striking that digital technology hardly features in the SDGs. Both digitalization and the 2030 Agenda are key drivers of global change and must be brought into alignment to enable global sustainable development. In its latest report, Towards Our Common Digital Future, WBGU argues that this effort requires a normative reference frame and advocates a Global Charter for a Sustainable Digital Age.

The first draft for this charter will be officially launched at this event ( The charter ties in with the 2030 Agenda and the Declaration of Human Right and, at the same time, it goes beyond them. It serves as a system of principles, objectives and standards for the international community and aims to link digital change with the necessary global sustainability perspective. It formulates objectives and principles for the protection of human dignity, natural lifesupport systems, inclusion in and access to digital and digitalized infrastructures and technologies, as well as individual and collective freedom of development. On this basis, the charter sets out concrete guidelines for action to be drawn up by the international community with a view to the challenges of the Digital Age.

The official launch event will be hosted jointly by WBGU and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS). The draft charter will be presented by Prof. Dirk Messer, co-chair of WBGU. A high-profile panel of distinguished international experts will discuss the draft, and the hosts warmly invite the audience to provide their own insights and comments. The launch event is intended to kick off a global debate about the urgently needed normative framework for sustainable development in the Digital Age. This process is endorsed by a wide range of global partners from the UN and sustainability science communities. The draft text will be available online and open for comments.

The idea is that a charter for a sustainable digital age should ultimately be adopted at the UN level, for example at a dedicated global summit.


Presentation and official launch of the draft charter

Prof. Dirk Messner, Director, Institute of Environment and Human Security, United Nations University, Bonn, Co-Chair German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU, Berlin)


Dr. Fatima Denton, Director, Institute of Natural Resources in Africa, United Nations University, Accra

Fabrizio Hochschild, UN Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Preparations for the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the United Nations

Prof. Nebojsa Nakicenovic, Senior Guest Research Scholar, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg


Andrea E. Ostheimer, Executive Director, Konrad Adenauer Foundation, New York