Article - International Digital Policy

G20 - Shaping digitalisation at global level


Earth and digits symbolising the task of 'shaping digitalisation at global level'; Source:


Digitalisation is a driver of globalisation. Half of the world's population has access to the internet; there is hardly any company which does not rely on it for its business. Social networks, digital commerce and information platforms are bringing the world ever closer together.

During its G20 presidency from 1 December 2016 to 30 November 2017, Germany hosted the first Digital Ministers’ Meeting ever to take place between the countries of the G20. This discussion process primarily focused on digitalisation as a key element for strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth in the world economy.

If we want to make full use of the opportunities provided by digitalisation for the benefit of all people, we will need a joint, international framework for action. When it comes to shaping digitalisation, the core objectives of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action are to achieve transparency, legal certainty and a fair framework for competition on the internet, as well as to ensure data sovereignty, the harmonisation of standards for Industrie 4.0, and the promotion of digital education.

Following on from the Chinese Presidency, a Task Force for the Digital Economy was created. This Task Force worked together with the OECD to develop a work programme that seeks to identify the core fields of digital policy in the short-term future. The aim is to use the next few years to fully harness the potential of digitalisation in the interest of economic growth and for social progress.

Autobahn-Verkehr in der Stadt bei Nacht; Quelle:

G20 process on digitalisation – roadmap



G20-OECD Conference



First task force meeting



Digitising European Industry



Second task force meeting



Conference on digitalising manufacturing



Third task force meeting



Fourth task force meeting - Senior Officials’ Meeting



Multi-stakeholder conference entitled ‘Digitalisation: Policies for a Digital Future’



G20 Digital Ministers’ Conference



G20 summit



Fifth task force meeting



Germany passes on G20 presidency to Argentina

On 12 January 2017, the OECD joined with the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action to host a conference entitled ‘Key Issues for Digital Transformation in the G20’ in Berlin. The results of the conference were fed into digital ministers’ process and were the basis for the meeting of the G20 digital ministers on 6 and 7 April 2017.

The first meeting of the G20 Digital Economy task force was held on 13 January 2017. The G20 working group discussed aspects of digital policy.

On 31 January and 1 February, a stakeholder forum was held. Discussions focused on which measures need to be taken at the European level in order to successfully drive forward the digitalisation of the industrial sector. The focus of this conference – which was the first of what will be a series of conferences – was on small and medium-sized enterprises.

The second meeting of the G20 Digital Economy task force was held on 3 March 2017. It focused on developing draft texts to be discussed at the Digital Ministers’ Meeting later in the year.

The event entitled ‘Digitizing Manufacturing - Conference on Initiatives and Policy Approaches’ was held from 16 to 17 March 2017. Representatives of companies, initiatives and a wide range of other Industrie 4.0 stakeholders came together to exchange knowledge, best practices and identify important fields for cooperation – which were then fed into the ministerial declaration that was adopted later in the year.

Further information

The third meeting of the G20 Digital Economy task force was held on 27 March 2017. It focused on further working on the documents to be used at the Digital Ministers’ Meeting.

The fourth meeting of the G20 Digital Economy task force, which was held on 5 April 2017, centred on finalising the documents for the Digital Ministers’ Meeting.

The G20 Digital Ministers’ Meeting opened with a multi-stakeholder conference in Düsseldorf on 6 April 2017. The event was also attended by representatives of civil society from all of the G20 countries. The stakeholders discussed in-houses in which the G20 could further drive forward digitalisation and what the stakeholders could do to support these efforts.

In Düsseldorf, the digital ministers of the G20 and of the guest countries invited (including Spain, Norway, the Netherlands and Singapore) adopted a declaration and a work programme (Roadmap for Digitalisation: Policies for a Digital Future). The Roadmap sets out 11 key fields of digital policy and a specific pathway for the G20‘s future work on digital policy.

Further Information

The heads of state and government of the G20 countries convened for a summit meeting in Hamburg from 7 to 8 July 2017. The conclusions drawn at the Digital Ministers’ Meeting were also used to inform their deliberations.

The fifth meeting of the G20 Digital Economy task force was held from 23 to 24 October 2017. At this meeting, the members of the task force presented the progress that had been achieved on the work outlined in the ministerial declaration and the roadmap.

The German G20 presidency ended on 30 November 2017. On 1 December 2017, the presidency was passed on to Argentina.

In the run-up to the meeting of the G20 digital ministers, the OECD joined with the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) to host a conference entitled ‘Key Issues for Digital Transformation in the G20’, held in Berlin on 12 January 2017. At this conference, a study entitled ‘Key Issues for Digital Transformation in the G20’ (PDF, 8 MB) was presented. The study – which had been conducted by the OECD on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action – highlights the importance of adopting policies that promote fair competition, trust in the digital economy and access to digital technologies and the knowledge that is necessary to use them. Using the study as a basis, some 300 participants from the G20 countries developed and discussed policy recommendations and measures with a view to ensuring that all people benefit from the opportunities held by digitalisation. The primary outcomes from the conference were later fed into the G20 Digital Ministers’ Meeting.

Identifying key fields of action and a pathway for the future

In order to build upon this work, the digital ministers from the G20 and a number of guest countries (including Spain, Norway, the Netherlands and Singapore) convened in Düsseldorf for a conference entitled ‘Digitalisation: Policies for a Digital Future’. The conference focused on three areas:

  1. Shaping digitisation at a global level – harnessing the potential for growth and employment
    The digital transformation comes not only with opportunities, but also with challenges – challenges which the members of the G20 want to look at and address together. It is important to use digitalisation to foster global growth. This means that existing barriers need to be identified and new solutions developed for the years ahead.
  2. Digital networking for industrial value creation – developing international standards
    Twenty-first century industry is global; companies around the world are connected with one another via the internet. There is an urgent need for international harmonisation of standards, which will ensure interoperability between different systems.
  3. Creating transparency – enhancing trust in the digital world
    In order to harness the full potential of digitalisation and the internet, transparency and trust are essential – for consumers and companies alike.

The G20 Digital Ministers’ Meeting ended with the adoption of a ministerial declaration and a roadmap (PDF, 427 KB) setting out eleven key fields of digital policy and a specific pathway for the future work of the G20. Important challenges include providing high-speed internet for all by 2025, creating inclusive growth and new jobs through digital trade, promoting lifelong digital learning, and closing the gender gap.

Continuing the success of the digital policy dialogue

From 23 to 24 October 2017, the G20 members and guest countries met with representatives of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Hamburg to discuss specific steps in which the roadmap could be implemented. The conclusions were fed into a report of around 120 pages presenting examples of how the roadmap is being implemented by the G20 countries, guest countries and international organisations.

By engaging in close dialogue on new digital policy measures and best practices, the G20 group can find solutions more easily and highlight the deficits and the problems that occur in driving forward digitalisation. Since 1 December 2017, the G20 presidency has been held by Argentina. Under the Argentinian presidency, the priorities set out in the roadmap will be further built upon, and the dialogue will be continued. The next Digital Ministers’ Meeting is expected to take place in autumn 2018.