Unity in diversity of discussion: A reflection By Cristina Jimenez and Christopher Muttukumaru

"This is a reflection based on the closing remarks that we made at the Oxford Congress. In reflecting on the outcome of the Congress, it is clear that there was unity in the emerging themes that were discussed, notwithstanding the diversity of subject matter. What do we mean?"

It is inevitable that, as a result of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, there will be significant changes ahead, especially for Member States which are closely tied economically and socially with the UK. Spain is one such state and we remain unclear about the future. Yet the UK’s exit will provide the opportunity for Spain to become a more pivotal player in the EU and globally, leading thinking and delivering change in one of the most dynamic and important areas of business and social evolution – the digital revolution.

The Congress was an opportunity to bring together a group of influential experts from a number of countries and a variety of relevant disciplines to consider a common set of challenges in the digital sector, involving a complex interplay of issues, technological, legal and policymaking.

The impact of the pace of the digital revolution has yet to be fully understood widely. It is still the preserve of experts. The Congress was an opportunity to learn and to think freely.

Thematically, the Congress identified the benefits that, if exploited wisely and effectively, the digital revolution could bring for consumers; for businesses; for citizens more generally; for states themselves in serving their communities. It was crucial to encourage digital pioneers.

 Yet there was inevitably much debate about the challenges too. Risks and challenges across a number of sectors were identified, which mirrored a commonality across diverse sectors. They included the way that digital change had brought increased risks of anti-competitive activity which harmed the consumer and damaged competitors; the potential damage to consumer confidence in the absence of adequate transparency; the failure to address the ethics of unrestrained digital change; given the intrinsic nature of digital advances, the failure to act coherently and collaboratively across borders.

Against that background, what might be done? There were a host of ideas that were debated responsibly and constructively. There was no “one size fits all “solution. Ideas included the need to develop mechanisms to ensure a level playing field in an international context in which nationalist ambitions were undermining international cohesion. Other ideas included whether educational systems were fit for purpose; whether there was adequate transparency; whether better consent regimes were needed; whether new regulatory agencies were needed; and whether existing regulators had sufficiently wide remits and resources.

It was concluded that FIDE Fundacion had a strong coordinating role to play and would continue to do so. But it was wholly dependent on its most valuable resource – its members. With its members, FIDE Fundacion will continue to lead thinking and to provide a framework for developing solutions across a number of sectors. It will continue to find opportunities to influence the decision-makers.

This is the end of the beginning of our work together. There is much more to do. Whether you came to the Congress or did not, please do join us in shaping the future.

Cristina Jimenez Savurido, President of FIDE Fundacion
Christopher Muttukumaru CB, Chair, International Committee of FIDE Fundacion.

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