Mr. Thomas Gass Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, Department of Economic and Social Affairs

to the High Level Leaders Meeting
9th Internet Governance Forum

Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Colleagues and friends,

I thank the Government of Turkey for hosting this High Level Leader’s Meeting today. 

I also bring greetings from the Secretary-General of the United Nations and from Mr. Wu Hongbo, the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, who are both currently in Samoa at the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States.

The theme of this meeting, “Capacity Building for Economic Development,” is highly relevant and timely.

Successful capacity building for sustainable development is about empowering and enabling people through the transfer of knowledge and skills to make progress for future generations.

Our discussions today can inform the deliberations of the IGF, seeking innovative ways to work together to build capacities that both accelerate sustainable development and match emerging challenges in the field of Internet governance with possible solutions.

This morning at one of the side events, the Boston Consulting Group presented 55 factors that inhibit the economic impact of the Internet.  At the end of July, the Open Working Group chose to include several references to ICTs in the 17 Sustaınable Development Goals’ targets. This is what experts and practitioners, including the IGF, have long been saying, namely that ICTs and access to the Internet are crucial enablers of sustainable development.

The policy work and the advocacy of the IGF and other fora are having ımpact.  The power and ımpact of ICTs have been recognızed.

The UN Secretariat’s capacity-building work also spans e-government and e-participation development. This year’s 2014 e-Government Survey underscored that, for the fırst tıme, all 193 UN Member States have natıonal e-Government portals.  However, only 46 have open data portals.

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is more relevant and important than ever before.  Moving forward, policy discussions will require more, not less, multistakeholder interaction, such as the one that the IGF provides.  There is no reason for complacency. Year after year, the IGF must continue to evolve to respond to many issues and challenges identified by its community.

To build capacities of all of its stakeholders, depending on the issues relevant to them, will require continued creativity and innovation. In my view, the IGF and its bottom-up, multistakeholder nature meets these requirements. National and regional IGFs are playing an increasingly important role ın helping to focus the debate.  Other ideas that are emerging include the use of participatory processes between IGFs and a more systematic monitoring of the progress related to issues.

This IGF community is passionate about providing everyone with a free, open, interoperable and stable Internet. It wants to contribute intellectually to the debate and ensure that every individual can benefit personally, and societies collectively, from this essential global communication system.

The internet governance debate, growing in its complexity, strides from the discussion of infrastructure development into the realm of actual use of the Internet, including not shyıng away from policy issues such as IANA transition and Net neutrality.  In addition, questions such as access, economic development, bridging digital divide, freedom of expression and cultural and linguistic diversity will be extensively addressed.

As you may be aware, a recent GA resolution on ICTs for Development acknowledged the importance of the IGF as a forum for multistakeholder dialogue on public policy issues related to key elements of Internet governance and its role in building partnerships. The resolution also welcomed the fact that the Government of Turkey is hosting this year, the Government of Brazil in 2015 and the Government of Mexico for its intention to host in 2016, if the mandate of the IGF is extended beyond 2015.

We are encouraged by the many connections that IGF is allowing all stakeholders to make, not only on Internet governance but also among ICTs, sustainable development and capacity development.

I look forward to fruitful discussions today and throughout the rest of the week.

Thank you.

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