Leaders call for stronger measures to turn the negative uses of the Internet into opportunities.

Representatives from a broad range of interests, from governments to technology companies, focused on efforts to promote “digital growth” while overcoming many of the abuses of the internet as the thirteenth Internet Governance Forum opened today in Paris.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and French President Emmanuel Macron issued calls for bolstering policies to contain malicious use of transformative technologies and called for risks to be turned into opportunities.

…discussions on internet governance cannot just remain discussions

Mr. Guterres cautioned about the negative use of internet that has emerged – cyberattacks, data breaches, hate speech, repression, censorship and control all have to be addressed and overcome: “discussions on internet governance cannot just remain discussions. Policy, and relevant normative frameworks, must be developed to ensure impact. We cannot leave our fate in the digital era to the invisible hand of market forces.”

Held from 12 to 14 November, this year’s Internet Governance Forum is bringing together more than 3,000 onsite and remote participants from over 99 countries, including representative from governments, technical community, business and civil society as they gather in the French capital to discuss amplifying digital cooperation.

Mr. Guterres stressed that technology should be harnessed to “empower rather than overpower,” and encouraged participants to reach out beyond the ‘usual suspects,’ break out of existing silos and taking a more multidisciplinary approach by engaging with specialists who may not typically be included in technology discussions. This includes governments of developing countries and amplifying the ‘weak and missing voices’ into the conversation.

“Digital growth affects everyone” Mr. Guterres said, and he called for the traditionally unheard and marginalized voices to be more visibly involved in the Forum’s work. “Reach out to local communities that have many fascinating stories and insights on leveraging digital technology for business and inclusion. Get stories from people with disabilities, who are among the most creative users of digital technology. And spare no effort to bring in the voices of women who have been under-represented and subject to deep gender gaps in access to digital technologies. ”

In his first official speech at UNESCO Headquarters, French President Emmanuel Macron said ‘technological transformation is also a cultural, philosophical transformation which is manifesting itself in all aspects of our lives, and this revolution is still ongoing.’ He noted that in our lifetimes, we are likely to see the effects of innovation on security, culture and education, and we need to adapt to stay ahead.

Echoing along the same sentiments as the Secretary-General, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Liu Zhenmin, pointed to the potential of a “true digital revolution” as the “greatest single enabler of sustainable development.”  Mr. Liu said,  “We should galvanize the momentum to mobilize technology and innovation for the service of people and not allow them to result in polarization and division.”

Mr. Guterres also noted that the Multistakeholder Advisory Group, which sets the Forum’s agenda, will reach full gender parity next year, a key objective for the United Nations.

The 2019 Internet Governance Forum Multistakeholder Advisory Group has also been renewed by the Secretary-General today. 52 members will advise on developing the programme of the 14th IGF annual meeting to be hosted by the Government of Germany in 2019.

The list of MAG members is available at: https://www.intgovforum.org/multilingual/content/mag-2019-members

Many other dynamic discussions took place over the course of the first day, all of which can be found here: http://bit.ly/IGF_Live.

Workshops and events

The programme includes over 70 workshops, 20 open sessions under 8 themes: Cybersecurity, Trust and Privacy; Development, Innovation and Economic Issues; Digital Inclusion and Accessibility; Emerging Technologies; Evolution of Internet Governance; Human Rights, Gender and Youth; Media & Content; Technical and Operational Topics.

About the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

The IGF, convened annually by the UN Secretary-General, is a Forum for multi-stakeholder dialogue on public policy issues related to key elements of Internet governance issues, such as the Internet’s sustainability, robustness, security, stability and development.

The purpose of the IGF is to maximize the opportunity for open and inclusive dialogue and the exchange of ideas on Internet governance (IG) related issues; create opportunities to share best practices and experiences; identify emerging issues and bring them to the attention of the relevant bodies and the public; contribute to capacity building for Internet governance.

This year marks the 13th Forum, and takes place in Paris, France, from 12-14 November under the theme “Internet of Trust”.

For additional information and schedule, please visit: http://www.intgovforum.org

Online participation: Media and other stakeholders not present in Jalisco, Mexico, are encouraged to participate and engage remotely in all sessions. Anyone can access the events here.

Live webcasts of all sessions are also available

Media contacts
Martin Samaan, samaanm@un.org
UN Department of Public Information
+1 917 868 0584

Wai Min Kwok, kwok@un.org
UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs
+1 646 833 8868