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Empowering marginalized communities to access the Internet among IGF Day 2 priorities

In the past year, the world has made positive strides towards fostering an open and accessible Internet, but many challenges persist even as the Internet remains a positive force in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The second day of the 11th annual Internet Governance Forum in Jalisco, Mexico, considered how to urgently address the widening digital gap between those who access the opportunities of the Internet and those who do not.

Main plenary: “Sustainable Development, Internet and Inclusive Growth”

Finding new ways to empower women, youth and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) was a central sentiment shared by attendees, who included government representatives as well as civil society and private sector leaders.

“Only by empowering young people and marginalized populations will we create an information society which truly enables inclusive growth,” said United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development Lenni Montiel. “The development of skilled and engaged youth—young people who can create local online content and services, for example—is essential. Let’s call on policymakers everywhere to support professional skill development, innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Raúl Echeberría, Vice President of Global Engagement for the Internet Society (ISOC), also sought increased digital literacy for all citizens.

“We need to work on capacity-building in a meaningful way,” Mr. Echeberría said. “We need to build capacities for using the Internet for the benefit of the lives of the people.”

Other speakers, including those from multinational technology companies such as Facebook, as well as small organizations like Laboratoria that promote girls and coding, agreed that such skill development and capacity-building is within reach.

Workshops and events

Also on Wednesday, members from the 79 national, regional, sub-regional and youth Internet Governance Forums met to discuss the progress and challenges of the Internet in their regions. These groups, which have emerged spontaneously, are independent in their work and share the same work principles as the global IGF in that they are multistakeholder in their organization, bottom-up, open, inclusive and non-commercial. The main session worked towards both making the IGF initiatives more visible and illustrating the substantive differences that exist across countries and regions in regards to Internet governance-related issues.

Additionally, representatives of various stakeholder groups participated in forums about law enforcement, cyberspace and jurisdiction—a growing area of concern as more of the world goes online and more business is conducted internationally.

About the Internet Governance Forum

Each year, the United Nations convenes the IGF meeting, through the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, to bring together various stakeholders to discuss current and emerging Internet governance issues, as well as related opportunities and challenges in an open, inclusive and transparent forum. This year’s forum takes place in Jalisco, Mexico, from 6-9 December. With its theme “Enabling Inclusive and Sustainable Growth”, this year’s IGF seeks to exchange views on how the Internet can foster development in ways that are sustainable and inclusive—providing opportunities for all.

Source: UN Sustainable Development Homepage

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