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The Principles for Digital Development have been refreshed for the next decade. Here’s how.

3 mins read

The Principles for Digital Development (the ‘Principles’) were created in 2014 to guide the responsible use of digital technology in international development. Stewarded by the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL) since 2016, the Principles were updated in 2024 after consultations with over 300 global stakeholders. 

The refreshed Principles retain the core spirit of the original while better reflecting the realities of today’s world, where technology increasingly touches every aspect of society. The refreshed language elevates themes heard through the consultative process: do no harm, strive for radical inclusion, and focus on the complex risks and opportunities stemming from the use of personal digital data. 

“Today, all people – even those who do not yet have access to or use technology – live in societies that are increasingly shaped by digital ecosystems that can bring both immense benefit and immense harm.”

From the newly established Preamble to the Digital Principles

Furthermore, the refreshed Principles speak to the diversity of individuals and organizations that exert power over digital initiatives, whether building a solution, developing a policy, or advocating for safeguards. Shared Principles spark critical conversations and help to align strategy within and across organizations.

A passionate global community backs the Principles – and joined forces to refresh them for the next decade.

The Principles for Digital Development were updated through a collaborative effort involving over 300 people globally. This co-creation process combined virtual and in-person consultations, a representative Working Group to draft the new language and a public comment period through which all interested parties had the opportunity to provide feedback. This process sought to engage both champions of the Principles from the past decade, while reaching new parties such as local governments who will be critical to implementing the Principles for the next decade.

“Designing for inclusion is about sustaining that large scale change by shifting the equilibrium. And the equilibrium or equalizer is not technology, but the new capabilities that you and I, we together will continue building to create more power for people.”

Keyzom Ngodup Massally, Head of Digital Programmes at UNDP, on the newly established Principle 4: Design for Inclusion

A principled digital future is ours to create.

DIAL is thrilled to see the community aligned on a refreshed set of Principles that emphasize the need to put people at the center of digital initiatives, whether building new technology, designing policies and regulation, or creating digitally-focused institutions.

“These principles are a commitment to building a digital future that prioritizes people, inclusion, and sustainability. By adhering to these principles, we pave the way for a digital revolution that truly benefits, relevant and empowers our local communities.”

Jerry Sam, Executive Director, PenPlusBytes Ghana

These Principles can, and should, set the basis for guidance for different priority groups, whether those with disabilities, women, those who are currently offline, municipal governments, start-ups, or impact investors seeking to advance equitable digitization. 

DIAL aims to lead by example, developing case studies and insights from our programs to demonstrate how the Principles can be implemented by different stakeholders, such as policymakers, and in the context of critical priorities, such as building resiliency in the face of climate change.  

We invite you to help develop this guidance. What groups do you represent? Will you develop specific guidance based on these Principles to contribute back to the community? If so, please get in touch! The Principles are a community-owned resource, and we are eager to see how you all are inspired by this refresh to build out guidance and drive long-lasting impact.

Check out and share the Principles in Kiswahili, Arabic, French, and Spanish.

Explore the Principles