Past Event

Digital Development Summit 2017

13 March 2017 8:30–17:00

Level 5 Function Room,
Southbank Centre,
Belvedere Road,
London SE1 8XX

How can we ensure decent work for all in a rapidly digitising world?

Digital Development Summit 2017 logo - GIF

According to a special report in The Economist last year, 47 per cent of jobs in the US, 35 per cent in the UK, and 49 per cent in Japan could be automated in the near future. A UNCTAD report noted that the equivalent figure for developing countries could be as high as two-thirds. Meanwhile, trends such as algorithmic decision making are upending industries such as media, banking and insurance. Against this backdrop, how can we harness new technologies for shared prosperity, and ensure decent work for all in future?   

This was the question tackled at the inaugural Digital Development Summit as participants explored the future of work in a digital world. The Summit provided a unique opportunity to explore new and emerging digital developments, build a shared understanding of challenges and opportunities, and move towards a collective agenda for ensuring the future of work is inclusive, sustainable and leaves no one behind.  

Hosted by: 

The Institute of Development Studies in collaboration with the World Wide Web Foundation and Nesta with the support of the UK Department for International Development and the ESRC-DFID Impact Initiative. 

Who was the Summit for? 

Leaders, policy makers, practitioners and experts in digital technology, international development and business from all regions of the world are invited to attend the Summit. 

Speakers included: 

  • Anne Jellema (World Wide Web Foundation) 
  • Sango Patekile Holomisa (Deputy Minister of Labour, South Africa)
  • Maggie Boden (University of Sussex)
  • Mamadou Biteye (Rockefeller Foundation) 
  • Mark Graham (Oxford Internet Institute, ESRC-DFID grant holder) 
  • Anna Byhovskaya (TUAC-OECD)
  • Kojo Boakye (Facebook)
  • Gina Porter (University of Durham, ESRC-DFID grant holder) 
  • Ben Ramalingam (Institute of Development Studies) 
  • Duncan Green (Oxfam)


  • Explored the current and future impacts of accelerating digital innovations on different parts of the global workforce, with a special focus on women and marginalised groups, and drawing on research supported by the ESRC-DFID Joint Fund for Poverty Alleviation Research
  • Sought to better understand the systemic interactions between technology and employment, and how these might generate different scenarios and outcomes for different sectors, workers and social groups 
  • Explored different approaches for ensuring decent work for all in the face of accelerating digital innovation through institutional, policy and skills-based improvements and transformations 
  • Identified priorities for future policy and practice including stakeholder-specific agendas for action  

Read the Digital Development Summit 2017 Agenda

Read the Digital Development Summit 2017: Background Paper

Tell us what you thought of the Digital Development Summit 2017

How to participate: 

Due to limited space this was an invitation only event. However, the keynote addresses were livestreamed, and we welcomed input from a wide range of perspectives into our series of pre-event dialogues. 

Pre-event dialogues and post-event reporting

A series of blogs prior to the event stimluated thinking on the key issues: 

Follow the discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #DigiDevSummit

See our summary of the event via Storify

Shortly after the event, a range of responses emerged online, including

Watch the opening session and keynote address (9:00 to 10:45)


Watch the final session (15:45 to 16:45)

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