IGF 2016 – Opening session

6 Dec 2016 17:30h - 19:00h

Event report

[Read more session reports and live updates from the 11th Internet Governance Forum]

As IGF 2006 is the first meeting after its renewal, the opening ceremony showcased 18 speakers who emphasized the importance of the forum for a multistakeholder approach in the Internet global discussions. It also highlighted the IANA transition as a first success of the model.

Mr Malcolm Johnson, Secretary General, ITU, stressed that collaboration, coordination and cooperation between all the stakeholders are essential to help achieving the SDGs.

Ms Lynn St. Amour, MAG Chair, celebrated the IANA transition and the renewal of the IGF mandate.

Mr Hasanul Haq Inu, Minister of Information from Bangladesh, mentioned the necessity of countries agreeing on: cyberpolicy, cybersecurity, and democratic and multistakeholder governance.

Mr Cwele Siyabonga, South Africa’s Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, said that it is important to improve Internet access and affordability, and added that it is possible to connect every global citizen by 2030.

Mr Göran Marby, CEO and President of ICANN, mentioned the IANA transition as a keystone for the multistakeholder model, and also emphasized that the transition has provided credibility and accountability for the Internet governance ecosystem.

Ms Megan Richards, Principal Advisor, Digital Connect, European Commission, said that the participation of 12 members of the European Parliament in the IGF is proof of how important governance is for the future of Internet.

Ms Anita Gurumurthy, Executive Director of IT for Change, brought attention to issues such as corporate surveillance, and digital capitalism in the use of the Internet. ‘To complement the IGF we need a robust political process: if we can save the Internet, we may be able to save the planet’, stressed Ms Gurumurthy.

Mr Omar Mansoor, President of TechNation, Afghanistan, underlined the importance of collaboration, as a single stakeholder would not be able to address the SDGs alone. He also mentioned how the IGF can contribute to this goal.

Mr Shigeki Suzuki, Vice-Minister for Policy Coordination from the Government of Japan, emphasised the cooperation with regional IGF Forums and on training young people.

Mr Lawrence Strickling, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information,, NTIA of the United States, praised the IANA transition’s success and stressed the legitimacy issue related to the governance processes. ‘Without openness and diversity it will be difficult to achieve the degree of legitimacy needed for a multistakeholder process to be successful’, he said. Strickling urged people to go back home and organize multistakeholder approaches.

Ms Kathryn Brown, President and CEO of the Internet Society, mentioned that multiple security issues have led to a growing global erosion of trust amongst users and in order to keep the Internet open and secure for future generations, stakeholders need to work together. 

Mr Indrajit Banerjee, Director of the Knowledge Societies Division of UNESCO, quoted the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and remarked that this should be one of the pillars of IGF’s future work. For Banerjee, when talking about universal access, stakeholders need to go far beyond connectivity and infrastructure issues and talk about barriers in terms of education, language, available content of enabling policies, and of capacity.

Mr Steve Crocker, Chair of the ICANN Board, highlighted that the challenge in front of us as a global community is not only to embrace, enhance, and strengthen the institutions that we have, but even to build new institutions.

Mr Moctar Yedaly, Head of the Information Society Division of the African Union Commission underlined that the ICTs in general represent a unique opportunity for Africa to transform itself, and specifically to catch up with the rest of the world with regard to education, health, peace, and stability. He said that it’s important for Africa to be involved in governance processes since otherwise there’s a risk to expose themselves to ‘so-called digital colonization’.

Ms Maria Fernanda Garza, President and CEO of Oresteia, ICC Mexico, referred to Internet Governance as a critical dialogue in shaping the evolution of global communication and knowledge, which is necessary for inclusive and sustainable growth.

Mr Jari Arkko, Chair of the IETF, shared the work that the IETF has been doing to tackle the surveillance threat. He spoke about updated protocols, the replacement of weak algorithms, and current efforts to create a new transport protocol.

Ms Michele Woods, Director, Copyright Law Division, WIPO, asserted that a well-balanced and well-functioning intellectual property system contributes to inclusive and sustainable growth by providing both guarantees and incentives for innovation to take place, and flexibilities and exceptions to guarantee general public access and use of the Internet. She looked forward to WIPO’s activities during the rest of the forum.

Last, Mr José Luis Saca Jiménez, President of the International Association of Broadcasting, thanked everyone for participating in the event and celebrated the renewal of the IGF mandate.

by Agustina Callegari, Internet Society Youth Observatory