Internet Governance Forum Attracts Thousands of Experts, Users as Nairobi Meeting Examines International Governance Challenges, 27-30 September

27 September 2011
PI/2010

Internet Governance Forum Attracts Thousands of Experts, Users as Nairobi Meeting Examines International Governance Challenges, 27-30 September

27 September 2011
Press Release
PI/2010
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Internet Governance Forum Attracts Thousands of Experts, Users as Nairobi Meeting

Examines International Governance Challenges, 27-30 September

 

Home Access Rose from 1.4 Billion in 2009 to Almost 1.6 Billion

In 2010; Developing World’s Mobile Cellular Growth Soared 20 Per Cent

NAIROBI, 27 September — More than 2,000 delegates from over 100 countries — representing a multi-stakeholder community of Governments, the private sector, civil society, the Internet community, international organizations and the media — converged on Nairobi, Kenya, today for the sixth meeting of the Internet Governance Forum, which runs until 30 September.

The Nairobi event, the first meeting of the Internet Governance Forum to be held in sub-Saharan Africa, will examine cross-border Internet governance challenges under the main theme “The Internet as a catalyst for change:  access, development, freedoms and innovation”.  Throwing the theme’s many dimensions into sharp relief are the changes and political turmoil occurring in North Africa and the Middle East, as well as the unprecedented exposure by WikiLeaks of confidential United States diplomatic cables across the globe.

Throughout the world, increased access to the Internet has brought about new development opportunities, freedoms and innovations.  Across each country, individuals, communities and society at large have enjoyed differentiated rights to such opportunities, fuelling a global debate on the nature of those freedoms.

Building on the momentum of previous years, this year’s Forum will help set the agenda for a way forward on Internet governance.  With the world relentlessly adopting information and communication technology, discussions around Internet governance have become ever more crucial in setting the agenda and solidifying the Internet as a catalyst for positive change.  The growth in access to and use of the Internet has brought about new challenges, which attract profound public policy debates, raising issues that are genuinely global in their importance, as well as national and local.  The Forum process has been in the vanguard of bringing the international policy community together with regard to Internet governance and is shaping a truly global agenda.

For example:  more than 80 per cent of households in some countries have Internet access, almost all of them through a broadband connection, and many of them through mobile networks; the developing world increased its share of mobile subscriptions from 53 per cent in 2005 to 73 per cent in 2010; access to mobile networks is now available to 90 per cent of the world’s population and 80 per cent of its rural population; the number of people with Internet access at home has increased from an estimated 1.4 billion in 2009 to almost 1.6 billion in 2010; more than 60 per cent of Kenya’s population uses a mobile phone, and the country has 4.7 million Internet subscribers, with the vast majority gaining access via mobile devices; and Kenya is known for advanced mobile banking services that have brought financial services to much of the population for the first time.

The debate in Nairobi will continue to refine understanding of appropriate local and international institutional arrangements.  Discussions on security, openness and privacy will highlight the increasing number of young Internet users, in addition to Internet security, cybercrime and cloud governance in an attempt to make the Internet sustainable and a tool for positive change.  The internet’s potential rests, in part, on the availability and use of critical Internet resources and, hence, one of the key issues to be discussed will be the adoption and diffusion of Internet Protocol version 6  (IPv6).  The debates on access and diversity will also lead delegates to think in terms of ensuring the Internet as a meaningful tool for development, freedom and innovations.

Development has been a cross-cutting theme of the Forum since its inception, and the Nairobi meeting will place renewed emphasis on it.  The meeting will generate discussion on the relationship between Internet governance and development, and how the Internet can foster economic growth, freedoms and innovation, for example, through improved education and knowledge while empowering citizens.

Internet governance and the spread of information and communications technology offer both opportunities and also create challenges for development.  Therefore, the rise in access to the Internet means that the debates over fixed versus mobile access have been eclipsed by more profound issues — such as the need to analyse specific global Internet governance issues relevant to development, and to determine how to promote capacity building in critical Internet resources and to foster innovation while addressing cross-border Internet security issues.

United Nations Assistant Secretary-General Thomas Stelzer, in a statement on behalf of Under-Secretary-General Sha Zukang, remarked:  “The [Forum] encourages open discussions on emerging issues, such as cloud computing services for development, Internet governance in Africa and digital technologies for civic engagement and political change,” adding that more and better information can bring public value and greater transparency to public life.  “More information, freely available, enriches people’s lives and contributes to better governance, for example, more informed public debate and strengthened transparency of government and business, but we also know that digital literacy is a key element in ensuring that better information leads to a more inclusive society and helping all realize the development potential offered by the Internet.”

He said the Forum provides an open and inclusive dialogue and an opportunity to create new dynamics between participating institutions, “through information exchange, best practices, while risks and challenges are addressed and a common understanding of how to maximize Internet opportunities is bolstered — which is valuable for all players involved”.

The Internet Governance Forum is an outcome of the Tunis phase of the World Summit on the Information Society, which took place in 2005.  In the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society, Governments asked the Secretary-General of the United Nations to convene a new forum for policy dialogue to discuss issues related to key elements of Internet governance in order to foster the Internet's sustainability, robustness, security, stability and development.

The Internet Governance Forum is not a decision-making body, but rather a space for dialogue where all participants are equal in discussions public policy issues relating to the Internet.  While there will be no negotiated outcome, the Forum informs and inspires those with policymaking power in both the public and private sectors.  It is also a space that gives developing countries the same opportunity as wealthier nations to engage in the debate on Internet governance and to facilitate their participation in existing institutions and arrangements.  Ultimately, the involvement of all stakeholders, from developed, as well as developing, countries, is necessary for the future advancement of the Internet.

Hosting the five previous meetings of the Forum were Athens, Greece, in 2006; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2007; Hyderabad, India, in 2008; Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in 2009; and Vilnius, Lithuania, in 2010.

For further information, please visit the website of the Internet Governance Forum at http://www.intgovforum.org, and host country website for the sixth meeting at http://igf.or.ke.

For media queries and to arrange press interviews, please contact, in Nairobi, Eshila Maravanyika at tel.:  +254 20 762 1102, mobile:  +254 71 643 1784, e‑mail:  eshila.maravanyika@unon.org; Newton Kanhema at tel.:  +254 77 173 7455, e‑mail:  kanhema@un.org; Sudeshan Reddy at tel.:  +254 70 638 8100, e‑mail:  sudeshan.reddy@unic.org; or Irene Mwakesi at tel.:  +254 20 762 1102, e‑mail:  irene.mwakesi@unon.org.

Journalists can follow all plenary sessions and many discussion groups by webcast at http://www.intgovforum.org/cms/remote-participation-2011.  News bites and photos will be available on Twitter (http://twitter.com/#!/search/%23IGF11) and Flikr (http://www.flickr.com/groups/1062424@N22).

After the Internet Governance Forum, you can contact Chengetai Masango, Programme and Technology Manager, in Geneva at tel.:  +41 22 917 5768, e‑mail:  cmasango@unog.ch.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.