UN - Portugal Digital Fellowship

Digital Innovation and Transformation


Digital technologies can act as a cross-cutting accelerator of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

In particular, SDG 16 calls for effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels in the framework of peaceful and inclusive societies. Digital transformation of governance processes and procedures has a role to play in achieving such a goal. The use of digital technologies by Governments to improve their operation as well as ways to foster bidirectional interaction with citizens has been the subject of significant and steady progress in recent years. Its enormous potential in the progressive realisation of the SDGs is widely recognised.  


The last two decades witnessed major efforts of the public sector first to introduce and later to manage the impact of ICT in their ecosystems. Although a number of lessons have been learned in relation to risk minimisation and outcome maximisation, digital transformation and digital governance require an extensive effort to build awareness, capacities, and competencies within the public sector.
Within its “2030 Development Cooperation Strategy”, Portugal recognises the importance of digital transformation to achieve the SDGs, in particular for developing countries. One of the strategy’s priority axes (axis 4A) is fostering prosperity, namely through digital transformation, in order to help advancing the 2030 Agenda and the implementation of the SDGs.


This is why Portugal is partnering with the United Nations University Operating Unit on Policy-Driven Electronic Governance (UNU-EGOV) and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), who both are in an adequate position to assist developing countries in their digital development, to develop a capacity building programme focused on digital innovation and transformation.

Target participants

The envisaged participants of this Capacity Building Programme are high-level officials from developing countries. Given the myriad of challenges stemming from their geographical isolation, priority will be given to Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs), as well as Least Developed Countries (LDCs), in the first iterations of this programme. 


The purpose of the United Nations - Portugal Digital Fellowship is to:

  • Provide high-level digital policy officials from UN Member States classified under UNCTAD’s classification of economies as developing economies with access to a capacity-building programme tailored to the needs of decision-makers, as well as empower a new generation of leaders with the knowledge and skills to address pressing digital-related issues.

  • Build capacity in developing countries with the view to assisting in the driving of innovative solutions to foster digital transformation, economic growth and equity.

  • Equip participants with further expertise to be effective digital policy decision-makers at the national and international levels via a unique interdisciplinary curriculum integrating the key domains of digital innovation and transformation.

  • Facilitate international cooperation and information sharing on digital-related issues by providing a platform for national high-level officials to network and build relationships with their foreign counterparts, leveraging the expertise of both Portuguese and international experts.

  • Support the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). 

Number of Fellowships

Up to a maximum of 25 (twenty-five) Digital Fellowships will be awarded per year. For each in-person participant, virtual access will be given to 5 further capital-based officials.



The desired qualifications of nominees include the following:

  • The UN-Portugal Digital Fellowship is intended for high-level officials, namely heads/deputy heads of national agencies overseeing and responsible for digital policy and/or their equivalents holding decision-making responsibility in the areas of digital policy, innovation and transformation.

  • Candidates should have demonstrable experience in digital policymaking and governance for their respective national authorities. Candidates should be currently employed in the service of their respective Governments with plans to stay in the related role for the foreseeable future.

  • Candidates must have a good working knowledge of English as the Fellowship will be conducted only in this language.

  • The nomination of women candidates is highly encouraged with a view to achieving the equal, full, inclusive, and effective gender participation. The United Nations priorities the equal participation of women and men in all its sponsored activities, including this Fellowship. 

  • Priority will be given to Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs), as well as Least Developed Countries (LDCs), considering an equitable geographic distribution


Procedure for Submission of Nominations

To nominate a candidate to participate in the Fellowship Programme, the following two documents are required and should be sent by email to digitalfellowship@mne.pt

  • An official communication (i.e., Note Verbale) from the respective Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York listing all nominations from the Member State (if more than one nomination is made, these should be ranked by order of priority).

  • A nomination form must be submitted for each individual candidate. You can find it at the end of the page.


Deadline for Nominations

All nominations must be received by 30 August 2024. Nominations received after this date will not be considered.

Dates and duration of Program

The first seminar will take place from 4 – 8 November 2024, spanning a total of 5 (five) days (excludes travel time to and from Portugal). Participants are required to attend the whole duration of the Fellowship as the sessions will build on each other. Participants will be provided with a sponsorship package to cover travel to/from the location of the Fellowship, hotel accommodation, official lunches and coffee breaks planned as part of the programme, as well as other subsistence costs. Further details will be communicated upon selection.




Download the document for submission.
Nomination Form