23 April 2014

Realizing Internet’s Promise Means Expanding Access to 4.3 Billion People without It, Secretary-General Tells Governance Forum

23 April 2014
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Realizing Internet’s Promise Means Expanding Access to 4.3 Billion

People without It, Secretary-General Tells Governance Forum

Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message, delivered by Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, to the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance (NETmundial) in São Paulo today:

I thank the Government of Brazil for hosting the NETmundial meeting and I commend its global multistakeholder nature.  Only through inclusive and bottom-up participation will we be able to foster an accessible, open, secure and trustworthy Internet.

The Internet is transforming societies in all regions.  It is the backbone of our global economy and an essential vehicle for disseminating information and ideas.  One third of people now have access to the Internet and the knowledge and tools it provides.  Increasing numbers of people now have a platform to voice their opinions and participate in society, from commerce to democratic decision-making.  That is why it is essential that Internet governance policies continue to foster freedom of expression and the free flow of information.

The Internet and the information society hold tremendous promise for the post-2015 development agenda.  The Internet can strengthen efforts to eradicate poverty, address inequality and protect and renew the planet’s resources.  But realizing the promise means expanding Internet access to the nearly 4.3 billion people who currently lack it.  Most are in developing countries, and there are significant gender gaps.  Internet governance must therefore work to bridge the digital divide through inclusive rights-based policies.

Internet governance should aim for universal access to an interoperable, globally connected and safe online space.  To this end, the principles of the World Summit on the Information Society remain relevant.  The United Nations invites all stakeholders to join in the ongoing Summit review process.  Confidence in the Internet and its governance is vital if it is to effectively contribute to sustainable development.

In this connection, I wish to inform the meeting I will appoint Ambassador Jānis Kārkliņš of Latvia as Chair of the Multistakeholder Advisory Group of the Internet Governance Forum.  I count on Mr. Kārkliņš to promote strengthened Internet governance through broader participation, not only by Governments, but also the private sector and civil society, including the academic and technical communities.

Building consensus on a roadmap for the future of Internet governance is crucial.  This NETmundial is an important milestone.  I wish you a productive meeting.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.