The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) concluded in Brazil recently bringing together more than 2,400 participants from over 116 countries to discuss Internet governance issues relating to cybersecurity, the Internet economy, inclusiveness, diversity, human rights, critical Internet resources and others. We take a look back at some key business messages that emerged during the four-day event.
Future of the IGF: A crucial time
Addressing government representatives at a high level meeting prior to the Internet Governance Forum, Ilham Habibie, chair of the ICC initiative Business Action to Support the Information Society (BASIS) said that extending the IGF mandate for at least 10 years would assure that Internet governance goals aligned with the United Nation’s recently agreed sustainable development goals which, in varying degrees, all rely on ICTs connected over the Internet and in back end-systems. A United Nations General Assembly high-level meeting marking the conclusion of the 10-year review of the World Summit on the Information Society will bring the future governance of the Internet to a critical juncture next month.
ICTs and Internet for sustainable development
Under the theme of empowering sustainable development, the IGF highlighted how private-sector investment in technology, innovation and entrepreneurship had transformed the Internet from an information exchange network to a powerful platform for sustainable social and economic development.
From e-health services or water distribution projects, to providing solutions for reducing carbon footprints, IGF workshops and main sessions provided wide-ranging examples of how the private sector was leveraging the Internet every day to improve the living conditions of people, bridge gaps that create inequalities, and protect and renew the planet’s resources.
An ICC BASIS co-hosted workshop on multistakeholder practices enabling sustainable development looked at the ways in which cooperation across stakeholders can drive sustainable development and underscored how attainment of all 17 UN sustainable development goals would rely in varying degrees on ICTs and the Internet.
Bringing the next billion online
“We must encourage efforts to bring Internet access to all global citizens,” said Hossan El-Gamal, a board member of the Africa Information & Communication Technologies Alliance (AfICTA), BASIS member and member of the IGF Multistakeholder Advisory Group.
Speaking as a representative of the SME community, El-Gamal said: “Bringing the next billion online to benefit from the information society requires, among other things: policy support for swifter access; reducing ICT investment risks; enhancing capacity building; facilitating local business innovation; encouraging local content creation; and strengthening institutional capacities
Importance of new links to local activities
Stakeholders participate in the IGF to share ideas and experiences and leave with insights and new perspectives to apply back home.
Because stakeholders do not meet at the IGF to negotiate or finalize official or binding texts, they can speak frankly and openly, in discussions that have ultimately lead to more informed policy and decision-making within their respective communities and organizations.
“The engagements of regional and national IGFs, in countries including Zimbabwe, Nigeria Paraguay, Mexico and Costa Rica and the subnational IGF in Nigeria are tangible success stories from this annual meeting, which should be sustained,” said Jimson Olufuye, BASIS member and chair of the AfICTA in his closing ceremony speech on behalf of ICC BASIS.
During the week, business and other stakeholders highlighted how multistakeholder cooperation and approach to Internet governance discussions served a shared interest in a stable and sustainable Internet.
In her opening session speech, BASIS and USCIB member Ellen Blackler of The Walt Disney Company said: “Progress towards our joint goals will be most successful when business, the technical community, government and civil society each have an active role in the development and assessment of policy issues and solutions. This inclusion lowers the risk of unintended consequences, increases legitimacy and facilitates implementation.”