IGF 2018 – Closing ceremony

14 Nov 2018 16:00h

[Read more session reports and live updates from the 13th Internet Governance Forum]

Speakers in the closing ceremony evaluated the results of IGF 2018 and the role of the IGF in the Internet governance dialogue, concluding the need for the IGF to expand and change in order to enhance the current bottom-up, multistakeholder platform for debate. The speakers emphasised the need for an all inclusive, multistakeholder, multi-disciplinary dialogue in order to keep the Internet free, open, and secure, and to address challenges related to cybersecurity and AI.

The Closing ceremony was moderated by Mr Chengetai Masango, UN IGF Secretariat.

Mr Mounir Mahjoubi, Secretary of State for Digital Affairs of France, echoed the remarks of President Macron from his opening ceremony speech, stating that inaction by governments in Internet governance agenda is not an option. He called for an intelligent Internet governance model based on open multilateralism. Mahjoubi stressed that the regulations needed are not about control or a ‘laissez-faire’ attitude, but based on the accountability of actors and the need for increased transparency. He praised initiatives such as the Contract for the WebTech for Good, and the collaborative spirit of the IGF. Mahjoubi highlighted the need for a reinvented IGF, which is more involved and multilateral and expressed France’s commitment toward achieving this goal.

Speaking from the viewpoint of youth, Ms Noha Ashraf Abdel Baky, Digital Grassroots.org, Youth@IGF Programme of the Internet Society,  stated that the inclusion of young people, disabled groups, and women is crucial. She highlighted co-operation with the private sector enabling youth involvement in Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, and South Africa, while strengthening the national and regional IGFs. Baky called for increased participation of youth and marginalised groups in the IGF 2019, as well as in the design and planning of workshops.

Ms Lise Fuhr, Director-General, European Telecommunications Network Operators Association (ETNO), spoke from the perspective of the private sector. She stressed the responsibility businesses take for the secure use of information and communications technology (ICT), and the importance of multistakeholder involvement in shaping policies for an innovation enabling environment. She called for a holistic, multistakeholder policy approach in an open environment. Fuhr described the involvement of businesses in the ICC Business Action for Sustainable and Resilient Cities in achieving the 2030 UN Agenda. Regarding the role of IGF, Fuhr stressed its role as bottom-up, inclusive platform for all stakeholders. She cited two examples of success in partnership between businesses, civil societies, and governments from previous IGFs – Microsoft’s Airband Initiative bridging the digital divide (a result of 2011 IGF in Nairobi), and Telefonica’s Internet Para Todos resulting from the IGF Connecting the Next Billion Initiative. Fuhr called for strengthening the IGF through empowering existing networks and attaining WSIS and 2030 UN agendas.

Mr Sumon Ahmed Sabir, Chief Technology Officer, FiberatHome, representing the technical community stressed the need for increased inclusion of the tech sector in IGF. He emphasised the importance of introducing tech issues to other stakeholders for better understanding of the possibilities at hand, as well as other stakeholders informing the tech community on the impacts of the developments in their work.

Mr Moez Chakchouk, Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, UNESCO, presented the issue of universal access to the Internet, explaining that accessibility needs a global approach taking into account human connection, digital competence, and the language capabilities of users. He stressed the importance of access for handicapped, indigenous, and marginalised groups. Chakchouk also called for an open debate on AI and its economical, social, cultural, and legal implications. He pointed out the multitude of issues in the Internet governance ecosystem which need sustainable responses based on discussions at the IGF.

Ms Lynn St. Amour, Chair, IGF MAG,  pointed out that all five working groups of the MAG are open to all community members, and that current results and comments are noted for the future IGF. She  announced that the new MAG members will be posted tomorrow. St. Amour stated that there is an increased effort to enhance participation of decision makers in order to make the work of IGF more relevant and called for engagement of participants through the local IGFs.

Mr David Martinon, Ambassador for Cyberdiplomacy and the Digital Economy at the French Government, has reconfirmed France’s commitment to the IGF and the UN system as a place to discuss Internet Governance. He said that states have to prepare intelligent and up-to-date regulations with an understanding of developments in IGF community. He praised the IGF for being on the forefront of identifying major issues in the Internet governance debate. He called on IGF participants to develop their own rules for a multistakeholder model. Martinon noted that in cyberspace, the inter-state discussion is no longer sufficient and other stakeholders must co-construct  ways to ensure the peaceful use of cyberspace, as described in the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace.

Dr Daniela Brönstrup, Deputy Director-General, Ministry of the Economy, Germany,  introduced the IGF 2019, emphasising efforts to bring in all key stakeholders to the table from all geographical regions, especially the Global South to foster an effective dialogue.

The last speaker, Mr Fabrizio Hochschild, Assistant-Secretary-General, Office of the UN Secretary-General,  emphasised the importance of the multistakeholder model, citing the Paris Climate Agreement and the 2030 UN Agenda as results of such a productive debate. Hochschild described three main issues in  Internet governance which need addressing – trust, data and ethics. He called for addressing the global deficit of trust echoing opening ceremony remarks by Mr Antonio Guterres, as well as the need for balanced data regulation and the need for clear ethical guidelines for AI. Hochschild further called for regulation and rule of law as a way to secure freedom on the Internet. With regard to the IGF, he pointed out  its role in strengthening dialogue, especially with the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation and the need for IGF expansion and necessity of resources.

By Pavlina Ittelson