IGF 2019 – Day 4 – Convention Hall II – Closing Ceremony

The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Fourteenth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Berlin, Germany, from 25 to 29 November 2019. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record. 



>> ANDREA THILO:  Thank you very much.  For me that was a very impressive and a very moving impression of freedom of speech these last 90 minutes under the roof of the IGF, and we have heard a diversity of attitudes and comments, and there was also a diversity of moments and experiences, I guess, that made this year's IGF a one of a kind, and a real great success, and I think it was about an hour ago when some of the young people said:  Nothing about us without us.  And with this inclusive mode, I think this whole this year's IGF wouldn't have been this one without you all.

[ Video ]

[ Applause ]

>> ANDREA THILO:  Woo!  That's to you.  That's to you.  And with this spirit or within this spirit, I want to hand over the stage, and I kindly invite to the stage Dorothee Bär as the Minister of State for digitization in Germany.

[ Applause ]

>> DOROTHEE BÄR:  Good evening, members of Parliament, Ministers, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for these beautiful impressions of the past few days.  I really enjoyed this last session, especially because I think we would need that kind of direct feedback in politics, not days, weeks, or months later, but right away.  We've heard a lot of gratitude, and I would like to thank you on behalf of my country, but also there were a number of recommendations of what to do better.  I was very impressed not only by the recommendations themselves, but also by the courage that could really be felt, and those who stood up, took the mic, and spoke up feeling that they were from an underrepresented country, and I was happy to hear from you, because we are pleased to hear from anyone who wants to contribute, because many people really reject the future.  They don't want to get on board, so we are grateful for anyone who wants to participate.

Allow me a personal remark, many elderly people feel underrepresented.  I think we can quickly change this perception of youth to be underrepresented, and that has been promised to you.  Thank you very much for your excellent remarks.

I would also like to mention the IGF Trust Fund.  Germany has committed to spend an additional million dollars, because it is important to keep up the work, to put our money where our mouth is, and I hope that this million can be a contribution towards that.

[ Applause ]

It is certainly an honor to speak before you today at this international event where we're hosting the entire world in Berlin.  Berlin is a very open city, so the world is already our guest, but it is very compact here.  A few days, but so many good ideas, so many enthusiastic people, so this spirit and this enthusiasm could be felt even in the City Center where our political organizations are, and I am also the Commissioner for digital transformation in Germany, and so I am, of course, very much interested in digital policy and advancing it.

How can we really make progress in the digital space?  And this vibe here and this atmosphere of openness, this is what we will take into our work, and this is your contribution, really.  Thank you very much.  You really helped us turn this IGF into a success.

You really showed the world that there is a need to discuss these issues.  Germany more than any other country has seen these other topics as nerdy for quite a while, just a tad, so it's really good we have this motto:  One world.  One net.  One vision, because you at this IGF have a very impressive program here, and it helped many people in this country understand that we need to do more.

I talked to the Chancellor after she visited the IGF.  She was quite enthusiastic, as well, and she said sometimes we may not be there yet, one world, one net, one vision but if at least we have the common objective to get there, then we have already made progress.

We have impressive figures here.  More than 6,000 participants in the 2019 IGF, guests from more than 160 countries, 5 days with more than 200 workshops, panels, meetings, and also hundreds of meetings in the remote hub program in many countries:  Argentina, Chad, India, Myanmar, so that many people who could not come to Berlin in person could still participate in the IGF and I would like to thank the remote participants for their participation.

Also, there were new initiatives.  For example, I myself have been thinking a lot about the Contract for the Web, by the World Wide Web Foundation.  There is a lot of drive to get Government, Civil Society and industry together and develop a social Contract for the Web, so thank you very much, Tim Berners‑Lee.  This contract is an important contribution which shows that multistakeholder processes are the key, if we want to shape the Internet of the future together.

Thank you very much for your personal commitment.  The federal government and I were happy to support you, and the principles were also signed at the Chancellery, so you see what headway we made in one year and that gives us hope not everything takes years or decades, but you can actually be successful in just a few months of time.  The IGF is just part of your commitment to global Internet Governance in the 2020s.

I know that it is hard work, it was hard work of coordination and if you're part of multistakeholder processes, you know that a lot of coordination is necessary to change even a comma, because you have to find consensus, and maybe we in Germany make things more complicated than other countries.  We are a Federal state.  We have 16 states, Federal states, and we have silos, maybe a few too many, which we would like to tear down.

But anyway, don't be discouraged, but keep up the good work, keep up the debate in many Working Groups, decentrally organized Working Groups all over the world, just like the Internet, by the way.

The last comments showed that there's a lot of diversity at the IGF.  These are very, very relevant topics, and there's so much expertise in this room alone, and this is very special because I believe there are a few examples of so many trends of Internet policy being discussed at once.

There's talk about inclusion ‑‑ inclusion, access and equal participation in the global world ‑‑ and how to shape that.  I was at the German Parliament today, and I received a Christmas tree.  It was created by people with disabilities from my own electorate, my constituency, so this was about inclusion, really.

At the moment, there are a few people who are skeptical when it comes to technology, and we have to deal with them, and then mentally impaired boy asked me when he will finally have 5G in his bedroom.  He wants to get it as soon as possible and so we can see really how important our issues are for inclusion, but data governance and the technological and legal aspects about dealing with data, exchanging data, are relevant.  Security, safety, data protection, protection of people and resources in our digital day and age.

You are giving relevant input here and you are setting the direction and the speed for Governments and also industry and Civil Society.  This is where we are going with the Internet, and this is why it is a pleasure to have hosted this Internet Governance Forum in Berlin, because this city stands for transformation like no other.

If you visit Berlin even once a year, you will feel the speed of transformation here.  Sometimes when I'm not here for a week and I come back then so many things change, more than changes within a year in other places.  At the beginning of the 2020s the Internet is at a watershed moment and I think it is exciting and it is fascinating to be living in an era.  I know we've said that there's too many young people here but if I look at the audience, then I have to say that none of us was alive when we first had electricity, but we are now in the process of digital transformation that we can contribute to, and that I think is not a cause of fear, but it is really exciting.  We can now set new rules.  We can participate and we can be at the start of a movement.  We can be pioneers.  It is the question of our time.  It is more political than any other and we could really perceive that, or at least I did at the various sessions that I attended.

There are different opinions of what the next decade should look like.  There are many diverse perspectives and it is important to exchange them, and it is precisely for this reason of course.  Of course, we don't have a global consensus on the future of the Internet, but in these times of transformation, we need to come together in real life, as we used to say, although the Internet is the real life, but we used to make that distinction but we need to come together not only virtually to exchange opinions, and I believe that this is biggest value of the IGF.

What was important to us as the host?  Well, of course, first of all to enable this exchange, to make room for it, and this room only useful when people follow the invitation, but you did.  You were present not only physically but you also brought your many diverse opinions, and to reiterate this motto ‑‑ one world.  One net.  One vision ‑‑ this is really a clear commitment to an open, free global and also safe and secure Internet.  As the federal government, we want to fight for that at National, European and also international global level.  Our Federal Chancellor promised that in her opening speech, and I would also like to underline it once more at the end of the week.

So what's the message that will stay with you?  We are on our way towards an open, global Internet.  We want to be ready for it, and we want to strengthen the IGF in its role to enable global exchange and understanding, and therefore I would also like to thank my colleague, the Minister of Economic Affairs, Mr. Altmaier, and I would also like to thank his entire team for the professional organization and passionate organization also of this Conference.

We have civil servants who do more than they have to do, and walking the extra mile makes an event truly outstanding.  Thank you very much to the Ministry, to Peter Altmaier and all his staff, and also all the other members of the federal government who contributed.  Thank you.  I think an applause is in order.

[ Applause ]

Next year maybe in Poland, you will see that technology will have advanced, and then once we meet in a few years, you will applaud me before I've even finished speaking because voice recognition, language recognition, will already know what I've said so I'm quite optimistic with regard to technological advancement really.

What was important to us was to have diverse actors and perspective, and to hear voices from as many people as possible, also developing in threshold countries, because it is important to hear their voices to understand what global digital policy is, and not only understand it, but really also to shape it.  We don't just want to be consumers.  This year, I participated in a multistakeholder process in Canada, and I was truly moved by the contributions by many African women who described their situation.  They said they want to be listened to, they want to be heard, but they don't only want to be consumers, but they also want to be pioneers.  They want to be contributors, and it is personally relevant to me that we need to take this perspective.

It cannot be that only a few countries really make contributions and the others are just contributors.  We must not pigeonhole each other but we have formed true networks, and this is why the IGF is going to react to global debates, and always with a view to global consensus.

You were all really present here and this is also helpful and useful for our own country, our Interior politics, domestic policy, because it shows that we're having this debate.  It shows it to policymakers and our Civil Society, not only in Berlin, but all over the country, because we're talking about a global Internet Infrastructure, which structures affect really true digital participation, and this shows that it is a relevant topic for everyone, not only for some techies but also for people who maybe don't often think about the issue of the free Internet, who might be maybe interested in infrastructure but not much else.

And we know we're not only talking about issues which are important to large companies, but also to SMEs, and in Berlin, we've built bridges between the large global questions concerning the Internet and local and Regional industries, so thank you very much for the SME representatives who were here and participated in the workshops, had passionate debates with Internet activists.  That doesn't happen every day, especially if you don't live in Berlin, but maybe live in rural areas.

So thank you for discussing the challenges and opportunities of the Internet, how we can make use of the true potential of the Internet, also for value creation.  And I was also happy to see so many members of the German Parliament to participate here and have an exchange with other Parliamentarians.  I am a Member of Parliament myself, have been for 17 years, and this is why it is also always important for me to strengthen Parliamentary participation.

And this is why I would also like to dedicate my speech to Jimmy Schulz, who passed away on Monday.  He was a really passionate advocate of the IGF, and he would have given anything really to be here for these 5 days.

Thank you very much for this Parliamentary initiative, and I will personally make sure that this Parliamentary exchange is going to be continued and strengthened, and we will try and get more Parliamentarians on board who may not be dealing with digital and Internet issues every day, so that they realize that this issue touches on every aspect of our lives.

Now, there's a sad moment, because we have now fulfilled our role as hosts of the 2019 IGF, but we know that any start has its very own magic.  We're handing over to Poland.  We are a bit jealous that you're always happy once your guests, your family members, who have been visiting leave, because it's always also tiring to be the honest, but still, you love your guests, and this is why it is also always a sad moment.

So thank you very much for being here, and I wish Poland the best of success for the IGF 2020.  That's a good year to be having the IGF for marketing reasons also.  We are entering a new decade.  The United Nations are going to have its 75th anniversary, and Poland can now also tell a history of freedom and Democracy, 40 years of it.  The Internet created links of solidarity between people who fight for their common values and ideals, but the Internet also brings together different social realities.

There's the option to fight together for common goals across National borders, across thousands of kilometers.  You can show solidarity, but that also requires inclusion, openness, tolerance, and freedom and integration.

And that is especially important because 30 years ago, this was not possible in our country where we are standing today.  So let us now hand over from Berlin to Poland.  I wish you many good ideas, inspiration, enthusiasm, courage, and I hope that many, many will continue to work for realizing the ideal of an open, free Internet.

The federal government, of course, will support you in the process, and you can be sure that we will attend the Forum.  We are going to participate actively, but we will leave the work to you.

Thank you very much for being here.  Thank you for being part of this Forum.

[ Applause ]

>> ANDREA THILO:  Thank you very much, dear Minister of State.  You just talked about magic, so before I hand over the magic wand now in a minute to Wanda Buk, for introducing the IGF 2020, let us share some impressions and promotions from Poland.

[ Video ]

>> We all despise control.

>> And desire freedom.

[ Applause ]

>> WANDA BUK:  Once again, hello, everyone, dear Ministers, representatives of the United Nations, ladies and gentlemen.  I would like first of all to thank our German host for inviting me to take part in this year's edition of the global Internet Governance Forum, and congratulate you on the organization of the event.  It was fantastic, and I'm delightful to be a part of such an excellent meeting of all the communities.

According to the estimate of European Commission, the total value of data driven economy in Europe amounted to 300 billion Euro in 2016, and it's well on the way to grow, more than twice, to 4 of the EU GDP by 2020.  The year Poland gets to organize the next IGF.  The changes brought about by the introduction of Digital Technologies affect all areas of life.  It means that there are challenges never thought of before.

The process of building a secure, ethical, and transparent global Internet becomes a key issue.  We are facing a new global debate on the shape of the future Internet.  We can already see some clashes views and beliefs.  Should we strive to maintain a single common Internet, or rather allow it to become fragmented and divided into local and National interests?  Should it be regulated?  Who should have the right to impose control and restriction?

Where is the line telling the difference between security regulation and censorship?  How far should freedom on the Internet extend?  These are some of the questions which we're trying to answer during the IGF.  The one in a year from now will be full of them, too, I'm pretty sure.

Due to its difficult history experience, Poland attach great importance to the debate on the freedom of speech and upholding the right to freedom of expression.  Since 2012, we have been taking part in the digital debate on the Internet Governance, and since 2016, we have organized National edition of the Internet Governance Forum on a regular basis, attracting more and more participants every year.

Therefore, we are so pleased to receive the nomination to host the next year's edition of the IGF.  This nomination is important not only for Poland, but also for all Central and Eastern Republic, which historically fought for freedom, which takes an active part in the debate on the fundamental principles governing the Internet today.

Central and Eastern Republic states still have fresh memories of the experience of economic and political transition.  The changes resulted in an enormous success for us, but still, we are facing many hardships.  Let me bring up one of the most pressing:  The issue of the cybersecurity and citizen trust in the digital world currently remains one of the key issues in the internal, European and international policies.

People are at the very heart of the process of digital transition of the societies that we are currently seeing in the world.  And this is the Government who should be responsible for supporting the citizens in the way that will make them ready to face the challenges, and take advantage of the opportunities of digital technologies.

Trust is fundamental for efficient trade and Administration, which is why building and developing a safe and secure common cyberspace should be a top priority of the international community.  We are aware of technological advantages and we are aware that they are only a tool and as such they can be used for a weak purpose.

We know that the Internet may become a virtual battlefield for hybrid warfare and a space for cyberattacks.  In order to successfully facing these challenges, the netiquette and written code online is no longer enough.  We need rules which govern the online activities of enterprises, Governments and users themselves.  However, we should make every effort to ensure that the rules we set do not turn into a tool for censorship.

Achieving this will require us to balance the stances and positions of all stakeholders.  Building a secure Internet is our joint responsibility.  August stakeholders, business, non‑governmental organization, academia, governance and above all, the users themselves, can all contribute to make digital world a better place.  Poland is well positioned to be a home of global Internet discussion.  We strive to develop transparent standards for the use of modern technologies based on clear, ethical principles.

Poland is the first country in the world where Facebook users are able to reappeal on Facebook decision to block content or profiles.  On the basis and agreement signed between Government and the Facebook last year, an online platform was created so that user can resubmit their request to unblock when they think a mistake has been made, and I must admit after one year, it works.

Thanks to this platform, hundreds of pieces of Facebook content have already been unlocked to date.  The contact point is a great example of how Administration can work together with the business to explore some of the ways the pressing digital society problems can be tackled by bold experimentation and best practices.

I hope we can take the spirit of cooperation and make it work for all of us, and show it to the world in the next year IGF.  Next year, Poland will hold IGF in Katowice, as it has been mentioned already several times.  We would like to invite you to take part in this event today.  We hope that Polish edition will bring together participants from all over the world.  We're pretty sure it will bring.

The main theme of the meeting will be Internet United, an open, free and undivided Internet, where user can enjoy their rights without compromising their privacy.  This is the idea.

We are going to meet next year in a historic city located at the border in the two largest rivers in Poland.  They hosted this year the United Nations climate Summit.  I am convinced that this is the perfect place not only to continue the debate started in Berlin but also to experience the famous Polish hospitality, to have a taste of specialties of cuisine and to explore the tourist attractions of the Region.  I'm looking forward to seeing you all in Poland.  Thank you.

[ Applause ]

>> ANDREA THILO:  Thank you, Deputy Minister.  For me now to close this Closing Ceremony, there's only one thing left.  This is to be honored, and I really am, to now hand over the stage to Wai Min Kwok, the Division for Public Institutions and Digital Government by UNDESA.  The floor is yours.  There you are.

>> WAI MIN KWOK:  Excellencies, colleagues and friends on behalf of United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs I invite you to view the closing of UN Under‑Secretary‑General Mr. Liu Zhenmin.  The video, please.

>> LIU ZHENMIN:  Excellencies, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen, we're coming to the close of the 14th annual meeting of the Internet Governance Forum, also known as the Berlin IGF.  By all standards, it has been inspiring and enriching.  We have seen 240 events including 10 Main Sessions, 40 open Forums, 64 multistakeholder workshops, 4 Best Practice Forums sessions, 18 Dynamic Coalition sessions, 7 National and original initiative sessions, and 45 events.  From these numbers emerge important insights and forward‑thinking assets and behind these numbers lie countries' hours of hard work that demonstrate a clear commitment to an open, inclusive, secure, safe, resilient, and affordable Internet.

These aspirations are vividly captured under the theme:  One world.  One net.  One vision.  Among other innovative measures, the Berlin IGF has benefited from the enhanced participation of developing countries and an increased role of Parliamentarians.  I want to thank our Chairman host for their outstanding leadership:  Vision, innovation, and generous funding support to the IGF.

I thank you, Germany.  Our profound thanks also go to the members of Multistakeholder Advisory Group.  Your tireless efforts have laid the solid groundwork for the success of IGF.

I would be remiss if I failed to express on behalf of the Secretary‑General of United Nations our profound gratitude to the Chairperson of the Multistakeholder Advisory Group, Professor Lynn St. Amour.  Lynn, your commitment, vision, and leadership when it comes to the IGF is recognized by the entire IGF community.  I'm convinced that you will continue supporting the IGF in your future endeavors.

Excellencies, the 14‑year journey of the IGF has been a remarkable one.  This is thanks to the broad multistakeholder participation, and engagement.  We take this opportunity to thank the many donors for their financial contributions to the United Nations IGF Trust Fund.  We count on your continued support.  Your commitment to strengthen the IGF will be crucial, as we look forward to the next 60 years of the IGF's mandate:  To 2025.

The National, Regional, and Youth IGF initiatives should also be recognized.  They are further expanding the inclusive multistakeholder Internet dialogue in a bottom‑up manner.  Indeed, there are now more than 120 National and original initiatives from various regions and countries.  Some have shared their invaluable experiences and challenges with us here in Berlin.

I also wish to thank all the remote participants whose engagement is critical as you are sharing the IGF experience with many others.  Finally, I thank all the volunteers for your hard work.  You are the unsung heroes of the Berlin IGF.

Looking ahead from Berlin to Katowice, I wish our polish hosts the best.  The Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the UNDESA stand ready to support our Polish hosts to carry forward the IGF's mandate.

Distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen, let's conclude this Berlin IGF with a sense of encouragement and let us be prepared for the forthcoming IGF in Katowice.  Thank you all.

[ Applause ]

>> ANDREA THILO:  Thank you very much.  Thank you very much, it was an incredible honor for me to be the host for this year's IGF.  I thank you all for this great sense of global friendship that was spread in this room and I had a great honor to be part of it, and I will take home this incredible feeling of meaningful connection.  And I hope you go on now outside, because Poland is inviting now you all at a reception at the IGF 2020, in this sense, at the Estrel Salon A and B near the reception, near the exit.  So see you all there.  Thank you very much.