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To have access to international markets, economies must comply with a raft of regulations, standards and rules that guarantee the quality of products and their production processes. UNIDO plays a pivotal role in helping developing countries create and implement the necessary quality infrastructure, such as standardization, metrology and accreditation, needed to take this important step to grow business and raise prosperity.

The work of the Department of Digitalization, Technology and Innovation (DTI) is central to these efforts. It collaborates with developing country governments and businesses to devise strategies and policies that improve quality infrastructure, easing their passage into global value chains. This includes codifying good practices and guiding principles for policy development on laboratory standards, or trade policy development to align with WTO requirements. 

The Department also plays a role in developing strategies and policies that aid developing countries to participate in the digital transformation. It provides support to countries to develop innovation metrics and statistics and to establish innovation mapping systems and observatories, providing a range of policy recommendations and development strategies for their incorporation into national development plans, as well as providing advice on technology upgrading as part of the UNIDO Industrial Recovery Programme related to post COVID-19 recovery.

Examples of normative knowledge products include a guide for SMEs developed within the framework of the UN High Level Inter-Agency Working Group on Artificial Intelligence (in which UNIDO is an active participant) to help facilitate the adoption and application of AI.

As part of its role as a convener, UNIDO also works to build the international consensus required to develop appropriate standards. Examples include support for global initiatives on voluntary sustainability standards like the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI), the establishment of Standard Operating Procedures, and the development of public goods like tools and methodologies for policy support, such as the quality maturity index, along with other good-practice guides and manuals.

Looking ahead, DTI is working in closer collaboration with partners to come up with robust strategies for the people- and planet-friendly standards needed to govern the digital transformation. It is also strengthening technical guidance to support standards in the increasingly important area of due diligence for responsible global supply chains, as well as those in support of regional tree trade agreements such as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).