Internet can play key role in achieving SDGs, officials say at IGF opening

On the opening day of the 11th annual Internet Governance Forum in Jalisco, Mexico, nearly 3,000 delegates from some 80 countries around the world—and thousands more online—began addressing the challenges of today’s digital age. Among the most important issues discussed were how to connect the 53 per cent of the world population that is not yet online, prepare for the challenges of information security, and promote the use of the Internet for the generation of jobs.

Opening ceremony

“Indeed, the Internet and information and communication technologies (ICTs) can play an important, enabling role in our efforts to fulfill the great promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” stated United Nations Assistant Secretary-General Lenni Montiel in a message from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the opening ceremony of the Forum. Noting that ICTs can deliver smart solutions to address climate change, hunger, poverty, women’s empowerment and more, the Secretary-General’s statement urged delegates to keep working to ensure universal access to a more open information society.

Ensuring such equitable access is one of the main challenges of modern society, said Miguel Ruiz Cabañas, Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, who added his strong support for the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. “We are truly pleased that this event will foster the enabling of sustainable and inclusive growth and fight climate change with cross-cutting policies that contribute to access and use of the Internet.”

Alejandra Lagunes, Coordinator of the National Digital Strategy of Mexico and Chairperson of the 2016 IGF, said, “Clearly we need to build on our points of agreement and exchange of ideas so that we can make the most of all of the potential of the Internet.”

Local authorities and other speakers at the opening ceremony echoed the call for an open and universally accessible Internet while emphasizing the importance of net neutrality and more international coordination on cybersecurity issues. As this year’s IGF is the first since its 10-year renewal by the General Assembly, speakers emphasized the importance of the IGF multistakeholder platform for public policy dialogue.

Workshops and events

Delegates from all stakeholder groups including governments, international organizations, technology companies, civil society and academia held workshops and meetings Tuesday to address the Internet’s pressing challenges and build on the enormous advances the Internet has created. Specifically, attendees discussed how to bring more women worldwide into the digital economy, better connect developing countries and the Global South, and implement human rights standards to the ICT sector, among other topics.

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.

The IGF is recognized as the widest-reaching international multistakeholder policy forum on Internet governance. Its mandate was renewed for 10 years at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in December 2015. The IGF is at the forefront of identifying and debating critical issues that shape the international agenda, as well as options and solutions for policy makers. It also focuses on giving stakeholders from developing countries the opportunity to consider practical ways to deal with their additional challenges. 

Source: UN Sustainable Development Homepage

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