Evolution of internet governance: empowering sustainable development
Around the globe, there are about three billion people connected to the Internet. From achieving gender equality to promoting inclusive and sustainable innovation, the Internet has been identified as the key enabler of development by helping to foster positive results in areas including education, healthcare, agriculture, employment and commerce. On 10-13 November, the 10th Annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) kicks off in João Pessoa, Brazil, bringing together some 5,000 online and offline participants.
Technological advancements in connectivity have expanded broadband access and mobile penetration in recent years. But in spite of the progress achieved, more efforts are necessary in order to connect the next billion and to address the digital divide.
“Information and Communication Technologies, as a powerful enabler of sustainable development, can make great contributions to the goals and targets of the post-2015 development agenda”
UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General
With the Internet as the foundation of the global economy, cybersecurity is increasingly becoming a critical issue in Internet governance. If inadequately addressed, these challenges will lead to a lack of resilience, with adverse impact on trust in the global digital ecosystem and sustainable economic growth.
To discuss and identify solutions to these and other pressing issues, high-level government officials, civil society leaders and Internet policy experts will gather both in-person and online to participate in the forum.
Cybersecurity and trust among topics addressed
As underlined in the Tunis Agenda from 2005, the IGF, convened by the Secretary-General, is a multi-stakeholder, inclusive and transparent forum. It facilitates discussions on public policy issues related to Internet governance.
Stimulated by recent experiences and lessons learned, discussions during the event will address issues under the following sub-themes: Cybersecurity and Trust; Internet Economy; Inclusiveness and Diversity; Openness; Enhancing Multi-stakeholder Cooperation; Internet and Human Rights; Critical Internet Resources and Emerging Issues.
More than 100 in-depth workshops, open forums and plenary sessions, organized by interested stakeholders, will facilitate thorough and wide-ranging debates among participants from different parts of the world.
Furthermore, a high-level main session will be held on ‘Internet Economy and Sustainable Development’ as well as a variety of workshops and sessions on the relationship between ICTs, Internet and Sustainable Development.
Close links to 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
“Information and Communication Technologies, as a powerful enabler of sustainable development, can make great contributions to the goals and targets of the post-2015 development agenda,” said UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General Mr. Wu Hongbo, as he addressed the Initial Stocktaking Meeting in the Process of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on the Review of the Implementation of the Outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society, held in June this year.
The overall theme of this year’s IGF, ‘Evolution of Internet Governance: Empowering Sustainable Development’ is also very timely, as the United Nations General Assembly has just adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in September and will be reviewing the implementation of the WSIS outcomes at a high-level event in December 2015. The General Assembly will also be reviewing the extension of the IGF mandate within its overall WSIS review.
At the UN Summit for Sustainable Development and in its outcome document, ICTs were recognized as a crucial platform for the implementation of the agenda, which sets an ambitious goal to “significantly increase access to information and communications technology and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries by 2020.”
The 10th IGF also aims to enhance linkages among discussions, recommendations and policy options, coming from the various National and Regional IGFs and the rest of the Internet ecosystem. Furthermore, relevant Internet governance organizations are encouraged to bring forward key ideas raised during this event.
Human rights online – a cross-cutting theme
In recent years, the IGF has been a critical platform to facilitate dialogue on human rights and their interlinkages with Internet policy and governance, which has also informed discussions in other policy bodies such as the Human Rights Council.
Human rights issues have also been increasingly prominent at the IGF, with a large proportion of workshops speaking to their different dimensions. Throughout the week, issues surrounding the inter-linkages between human rights, access and development, freedom of expression, right to assembly and privacy will be addressed in a number of different formats.
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Photo courtesy of the Internet Governance Forum