Welcome to the ninth annual meeting of the Internet Governance Forum. On behalf of the United Nations, I thank the Government of Turkey, the Ministry of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications, and the Information and Communication Technologies Authority for hosting this meeting. I also acknowledge the valuable leadership of the IGF Multistakeholder Advisory Group, under the leadership of its Chair, Ambassador Janis Karklins, for their guidance in preparing this year’s IGF.
I also extend a warm thanks to all the volunteers, the technical assistance teams and others who have worked and will work tirelessly behind the scenes over the next few days to make this meeting a success.
And, I wish to acknowledge the important role of the more than 30 multistakeholder national and regional IGF initiatives. They expand the dialogue of the global IGF by addressing unique local, national and regional Internet governance challenges and opportunities.
This year’s main theme, Connecting Continents for Enhanced Multistakeholder Internet Governance, reflects the collective mission of the IGF community to foster an accessible, open, secure and trustworthy Internet. Since Turkey is often described as a bridge between Europe and Asia, it is an apt host for discussing this theme. We can use this week to connect all continents through sharing best practices, lessons learned and capacity building activities.
The sub-themes this year touch on opportunities, such as the Internet's potential to be an engine for growth and development, and challenges, such as enhancing digital trust.
Multistakeholder Internet governance will be an important enabler for achieving internationally agreed development goals, including the United Nations sustainable development goals. The Open Working Group tasked by the General Assembly to develop these goals has just agreed on a proposed list of 17 goals and related targets.
These sustainable development goals will be grounded in a new, unified and universal post-2015 development agenda, which requires supporting developing countries at all stages with the transition towards sustainability. In order to achieve such goals, we need to optimize the use of technology for developing innovations, spreading knowledge and sharing the benefits of ICTs through bridging the digital divide.
Both developing and developed countries can deploy ICTs to help overcome critical development obstacles such as social exclusion and growing inequality. The IGF will continue to be an important policy space for new and continuing multistakeholder public-private partnerships for achieving the sustainable development goals.
In order to fully realize the potential of the Internet for development, we must also earn and build online trust of citizens. As more and more people come online, we need to ensure that these global citizens find a trustworthy cyberspace that promotes peace and security, enables development and respects human rights. Internet governance should therefore be grounded in principles that protect human rights online and ensure access for all to an inter-operable, globally connected, and safe Internet.
This year, the Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG), with the broader IGF community, has once again worked vigorously on a programme that will produce tangible takeaways for policy makers here and those participating remotely.
Best practice forums, this year, will detail policy options and best practices on key Internet governance topics such as multistakeholder governance mechanisms, regulation and mitigation of SPAM, establishing and supporting computer emergency response teams, developing local content and online child safety and protection. The main sessions will address emerging issues such as the global debate on net neutrality, and the IANA stewardship transition.
With the current mandate of the IGF set to end in 2015, 2014 is proving to be an eventful year.
The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and the IGF community and Secretariat continue to implement the recommendations of the working group of the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) on improvements to the Forum.
Preparations are already underway for the 10th IGF. The Government of Brazil has graciously offered to host the pivotal 2015 meeting.
Next year Member States will convene the WSIS+10 review in consultation with all stakeholders. The future of the IGF will be part and parcel of this high-level review. My Department, and the United Nations at large, remains committed to supporting the IGF should Member States decide to extend its mandate beyond 2015.
Discussions at previous IGF meetings have led to many tangible initiatives. The Forum has helped government officials, civil society, the private sector, technical community representatives and intergovernmental organizations working together to better access the benefits of the Internet for all. It has done so by providing an opportunity for all stakeholders to be included in defining policy options and debating programme choices.
Therefore I invite each of you, regardless of country, role, or status, to express your views this week, to make yourselves heard, and understood, and to understand the views of others in the spirit of inclusive and open debate.