Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs

11th Annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) Day Zero High-Level Meeting
Achieving social inclusion: A common goal for the Internet community

Your Excellency, Ms. Claudia Ruiz Massieu, Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico,

Excellencies,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honour to join you today in this beautiful city of Guadalajara, State of Jalisco,–to learn and exchange ideas on the collective goals of the Internet community for a sustainable world.

On behalf of the United Nations, I would like to thank the Government of Mexico and particularly Mr. Victor Lagunes, Chief Information Officer, Office of the President, for making this gathering possible, and for your commitment and leadership in hosting the 11th Session of the Internet Government Forum (IGF).
The strong commitment of the Mexican Government to the IGF is remarkable. It was in early 2015 that the Government announced the pledge to host this IGF – in advance of the renewal of the mandate of the IGF in December last year at the General Assembly’s review of the WSIS+10.

This commitment is inspiring, demonstrating Mexico’s leadership in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

As you know, the 2030 Agenda is anchored in 17 universal Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 interconnected Targets, providing critical reference points for governments, civil society, the private sector and all relevant stakeholders.
One of the SDG targets specifically calls for significant increase in access to information communication technologies (ICTs) and strives to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in the Least Developed Countries by 2020.

This is ambitious but achievable. We must place social inclusion as a high priority, as we navigate through the challenging implementation of the SDGs.

The prominent profile for the Internet and innovation of ICTs are also highlighted in the Technology Facilitation Mechanism (TFM)– a major outcome of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the 2030 Agenda.

Clearly, the Internet has penetrated into almost all corners of the globe, contributing to economic growth and development in all sectors, enabling new business models, creating new opportunities for social interaction and addressing needs of environmental protection.

For us here and many others, Internet technologies have become a part of our everyday life. But this is not the case for everyone.

We must not forget that many people continue to live on the margins of societies. Many are isolated, whether in rural areas or in urban slums, and lack access to infrastructure, resources and information, and are left out of decision making.

We must not forget that many forms of digital divides remain, both between and within countries and between women and men.

It is a concern that such digital divides may be widened with the advancement and diffusion of the Internet and ICTs.

The advent of disruptive technologies like Internet of Things and artificial intelligence, while promising to bring about ground-breaking benefits to mankind and our quality of life, may also lead to more social exclusion, ethical fundamental questions and governance challenges.

The Internet community must collectively take action to connect the unconnected. In fact, this is the overarching principle of sustainable development in “leaving no one behind”

The world will be fully benefitting from the Internet only if all people have access to it, and the content and services meet their respective needs.

We have to strive for innovative, sustainable solutions to bring Internet access and services to those who are currently left behind.

In addition to supporting the UN Secretary-General in convening the annual IGF meetings, my Department – the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) – supports the UN High-Level Political Forum, which reviews the implementation of the Agenda 2030 and its SDGs as well as the UN Technology Facilitation Mechanism.

We also support interagency work of the UN, along with ITU, UNESCO and others, in implementing the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

Working as one, the UN will continue to do more to foster social inclusion, including through Internet and ICTs, for sustainable development in this connected and interdependent world.

I would like to highlight that this is the 11th IGF, and the 10th convened by Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, who as you know is finishing his mandate at the end of this year. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will take office as of 1st January 2017, and will continue to convene the IGF as per the General Assembly mandate.

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let us find concrete and innovative ways for social inclusion, to bring about the power of access and knowledge to those in need.

Let us work together to leverage on the Internet to empower sustainable development to leave no one behind.

I wish you a productive meeting this week at the IGF.

Thank you.

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