Internet Governance Forum set to explore pathways to harness new technologies for broader prosperity
More than 3,000 participants, including high-level government officials, civil society leaders, private sector and internet policy experts, will gather in Paris, France, from 12 to 14 November to discuss international cooperation around issues such as fake news, the spread of disinformation, cybersecurity and privacy, big data, the Internet of Things, and their effects on society.
The Forum has taken on an increased profile as digital technology has become an integral part of daily life. The Forum will explore means to promote positive impacts of new technologies and how they can realize their full social and economic potential while also looking at curbing the more insidious uses of the Internet.
The Forum, convened by the United Nations Secretary-General, facilitates these dialogues to promote better internet governance and a safe and trustworthy environment.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and French President Emmanuel Macron will address the Forum, in addition to representatives from intergovernmental organizations, governments, private sector, the technical community and civil society, who will exchange ideas on a range of actions that can be taken to ensure an “Internet of Trust.”
With almost half the world’s population connected to the internet, including the world’s poorest countries who are striving to keep on track in achieving universal and affordable access to the Internet by 2020, access to information has never been easier. Faster, more affordable internet and mobile technology has opened up a world of opportunities that also present a host of global challenges. Hate speech, polarization, terrorist recruitment, data manipulation and hacking undermine our fundamental human rights and expose us to risks and security gaps. The Internet Governance Forum is the foremost global platform that addresses these challenges in an ever-evolving digital landscape.
Mr. Guterres, who has called for raising awareness about the transformative impact of digital technologies to secure a safe and inclusive digital future, said in the UN Strategy on New Technologies, “Without a stepped up, smart and responsible use of technology, we will fail to reach the SDGs and we will miss opportunities to prevent conflict and sustain peace.”
The World Economic and Social Survey 2018: Frontier Technologies For Sustainable Development, released earlier this year, presented data showing that there is considerable disparity in Internet use between developed and developing countries, between men and women, urban and rural areas, and young and old. Efforts to increase access to frontier technologies in those countries, in particular artificial intelligence, present tremendous potential to improve people’s lives, but lack of access could also drive greater inequality.
Women, who are almost equal in using the internet in developed countries according to the International Telecommunication Union, lag behind in internet use in developing and least developed countries. Digital inclusion, a key goal for the United Nations and permeating all facets of sustainable development, is a pathway to empowerment and self-sufficiency in countries where women face a lack of employment opportunities. In those countries, access to mobile technology has enabled women in to take charge of their own lives via digital financing, online trading, and information sharing apps. The Forum will address the digital divide and ways to harness technology in support of sustainable development.
Workshops and events
The three-day meeting will feature interactive dialogues and debates, while addressing a broad range of themes and issues under eight themes: Cybersecurity, Trust and Privacy; Development, Innovation and Economic Issues; Digital Inclusion and Accessibility; Emerging Technologies; Evolution of Internet Governance; Human Rights, Gender and Youth; Media and Content; Technical and Operational Topics.
These workshops and panel discussions aim to encourage comprehensive debates among global stakeholders and set policy recommendations in how to address internet governance. More than 160 different types of sessions will be convened.
About the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)
The IGF, convened annually by the Secretary-General and supported by UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, is a Forum for multi-stakeholder dialogue on public policy issues related to key elements of Internet governance issues, such as the Internet’s sustainability, robustness, security, stability and development. The purpose of the IGF is to maximize the opportunity for open and inclusive dialogue and the exchange of ideas on Internet governance (IG) related issues; create opportunities to share best practices and experiences; identify emerging issues and bring them to the attention of the relevant bodies and the general public; contribute to capacity building for Internet governance. This year marks the 13th Forum, and takes place in Paris, France, from 12-14 November under the theme “Internet of Trust”.