Stakeholders’ vision in opening remarks at IGF 2023

Stakeholders at the IGF 2023 addressed the urgent challenges of the digital landscape, highlighting the risks to job growth, international trade, and net-zero targets.

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In their opening remarks, stakeholders at the Internet Governance Forum 2023 (IGF 2023), held in Kyoto, addressed pressing global digital challenges with critical contributions from notable participants.

Minister of Communications and Information Technology of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah Alswaha, highlighted the risks the current digital landscape poses to net zero targets, job growth, and international trade. Trade restrictions and fragmentation are expected to cost the global economy roughly 7% of its GDP and result in the loss of over 100 million jobs. Alswaha called for an inclusive and innovative approach to internet governance.

Junji Suzuki, Japanese Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications, emphasised the indispensable role of the internet in modern life, connecting people and fostering global communication. However, Suzuki also pointed out challenges such as the spread of illegal and harmful information, cybercrimes, and the need for equal internet access for all.

Vinton Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google, highlighted the importance of making the internet a productive and secure environment. He stressed the significance of suppressing misinformation, promoting helpful content, and implementing accountability and agency. Cerf also mentioned the upcoming Digital Governance compact work facilitated by Rwanda and Sweden as a highly anticipated initiative.

Norweigan Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Sigbjørn Gjelsvik discussed the country’s commitment to internet governance and its bid to host the IGF in 2025. Key points are Norway’s dedication to fostering an open and inclusive internet environment, promoting responsible technological innovation, and addressing the environmental impacts of digital infrastructure.

As a Judge of the High Court of Tanzania, Eliamani Laltaika advocated for involving the judiciary in internet governance discussions, highlighting the need for judges to thoroughly understand digital governance. He proposed the creation of a judiciary track within the IGF Secretariat.

Jun Murai, a Japanese professor, highlighted Japan’s role in hosting significant internet-related events in 2023 and the importance of the internet in disaster recovery, citing the 1995 earthquake in Japan. He also acknowledged the accelerated reliance on the internet during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bjorn Berge, Council of Europe’s Deputy Secretary General, underscored the transformative impact of the internet on modern life and the need for responsible use of digital technology. He recognised the Council of Europe’s initiatives in addressing cybercrime and developing an international AI treaty.

Vice-President for Values and Transparency of the European Commission, Věra Jourová, discussed various aspects of internet governance, including public models of governance and the importance of ethical and responsible internet use. She highlighted the EU’s efforts in AI regulation, disinformation mitigation, and upholding human rights in digital governance.

Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Doreen Bogdan-Martin, emphasised the role of digital technology in addressing global challenges, with 70% of Sustainable Development Goal targets benefiting from it. She highlighted the need for digital inclusion, particularly in underserved communities, and the importance of a multistakeholder approach in internet governance.

Tripti Sinha, Assistant Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at the University of Maryland (UMD) in the Division of Information Technology, highlighted several key points, including:

  1. Access to the internet as a fundamental human right, especially during crises.
  2. The importance of open standards, open architecture, and interoperability in the internet’s transformative power.
  3. The pressing issue of digital inclusion and the need to tackle barriers like affordability and digital literacy.
  4. The value of the multistakeholder model in internet governance to ensure transparency and inclusivity.
  5. The critical role of ICANN in maintaining an open, secure, and resilient internet.
  6. The potential of AI and Quantum Communication to reshape the digital landscape through innovation.

The moderator summarised the key insights from the discussions, highlighting the fundamental importance of the internet, the need for digital inclusion, and the value of a multistakeholder model in shaping internet policies and decisions. The moderator also acknowledged the transformative potential of emerging technologies like AI and Quantum communication.

These contributions collectively addressed the challenges and opportunities in the digital world, emphasising the importance of collaboration, inclusivity, and responsible use of technology for a more equitable and sustainable digital future.