The Intersection of Technology and Diplomacy: Global Collaboration on Emerging Technologies

Emerging technologies are transforming governments, businesses and citizens into a truly digital society. Critical infrastructure, financial systems and communication methods are migrating to an increasingly decentralized internet. New technical innovations such as Web3, blockchain and AI have enormous potential to strengthen democracies and global economic security while narrowing the digital divide.

However, these innovations come with significant risks. In his book The Power of Crisis, political scientist Ian Bremmer highlights disruptive technologies as one of three looming global crises for which we are largely unprepared. Increasing exposure to cyber threats, the complexity of critical resources and supply chains, and environmental concerns are complicating global adoption of technology. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken points to technical challenges like these as some of the critical areas vital to modernizing American diplomacy.

The solution to these challenges is strategic technology diplomacy – a fast-growing form of statecraft that brings non-state actors on the international stage to discuss the future of technology and foreign policy in the digital space. It begins with governments working with business, civil society and institutions, arming global leaders with the knowledge and understanding of how to engage effectively across borders and sectors on the global stage.

The 11th Annual Meridian Global Leadership Summit: Preparing for Tech Transformation in a Digital World explored the intersection of diplomacy and emerging technologies through ways the public and private sectors are pursuing strategies to foster innovation, build resilient cybersystems, and ensure compliance of trust and transparency. Over 50% of foreign diplomats, business leaders, US government officials and visionaries on specific issues surveyed at the summit believe technology diplomacy is most effective when there is technological and diplomatic cooperation among nations, international organizations and technology companies.

Eugênio Vargas Garcia, Deputy Consul General and Tech Diplomat, Consulate General of Brazil in San Francisco, speaker at the 2022 Meridian Summit.

We are already seeing this collaboration taking shape.

Public-private partnerships are on the rise to connect and engage international leaders with new technologies. Jennifer Bachus, Assistant Secretary of State at the US State Department, spoke at the summit about how the new US Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy is playing a leading role in creating an environment in which private industry and venture capital serve as a catalyst to improve connectivity be able. She also announced the launch of the Global Emerging Leaders in International Cyberspace Security program in partnership with Meridian. Beginning next year, the program will bring leaders from like-minded foreign partners and governments to the US to equip them with the knowledge and connections to be effective advocates of the UN General Assembly-endorsed framework for good governance in cyberspace.

Multilateral platforms such as the UN and the climate conference continue to serve as the ultimate platform for public-private partnerships, such as the Global Digital Compact or the Open-Ended Working Cyber ​​Group. Tech diplomacy is also being incorporated into corporate social responsibility initiatives like Microsoft’s Airband initiative, a public-private effort to improve meaningful connectivity for underserved communities worldwide.

While technology can be a transformative tool for change, there must be a balance to ensure that we do not rely solely on multilateral institutions to implement policies and standards, as authoritative regimes can easily reject these initiatives, as Dame Karen Pierce, Ambassador of the United Kingdom, versus the US, divided at the summit. Instead, we need a holistic diplomatic approach that ensures tech diplomacy and collaboration can be propagated across multiple platforms.

Another consensus at the summit was the need to make greater use of technology to build an inclusive environment and economy for all. Cross-sector collaboration is needed to overcome global talent shortages in tech and cyber, including the notorious gender divide in the industry. Camille Stewart Gloster, the White House deputy national cyber director for technology and ecosystem security, detailed how the US government is developing a multi-faceted national strategy to increase the diversity of the cyber workforce. Meridian honored Confidence Staveley, Founder and Executive Director of the CyberSafe Foundation, with Meridian’s Global Citizen Award for dedicating her career to increasing women’s participation in cybersecurity to lift families out of poverty across Africa. She gives these real-world examples of how global priorities can have local implications.

Technology policy will be a central and defining feature of US foreign policy for years to come. But tech diplomacy isn’t just shaped by heads of state or diplomats. A comprehensive collaboration of leaders from all sectors, institutions and societies will be the real engine behind an open, safe and reliable digitized world for all. The era of tech diplomacy is here, and the room for growth at the intersection of tech and diplomacy is exponential.


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