IGF 2020 2nd OCs and MAG Meeting USG UN DESA Remarks

U N I T E D   N A T I O N S                           N A T I O N S   U N I E S





Second Open Consultations and Multistakeholder Advisory Group Meeting Internet Governance Forum


Virtual, 15-19 June 2020 10:00 a.m. 


Thank you, Madam Chair.


Members of the Multistakeholder Advisory Group,


Friends from around the world,


            I am honoured to join you today.


Six months ago, we gathered in Berlin, at the fourteenth annual meeting of the Internet Governance Forum.


Today, in this unprecedented moment of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are meeting virtually. This is made possible because of Internet connectivity and technologies -- the centrality of what the Internet Governance Forum is about.


During these past months, we have witnessed how the pandemic has accelerated the global use of the Internet and digital transformation. It is impacting economies and social lives in so many ways, from telemedicine and distance learning, to remote working.


We are also encouraged by the resilience of the global Internet system during this pandemic, with no major breakdowns. There is increased use and adaptation to connectivity and information sharing, within and among governments, businesses, health workers and the public.


At the same time, however, the pandemic has also exposed and magnified the dark sides of the Internet. We see various undesirable economic and social trends – especially the spread of misinformation, cybersecurity and data privacy issues, as well as the persistent digital divides. Half of the world still does not have meaningful access to the Internet. Indeed, in some cases, the divides have widened during the pandemic.


Distinguished MAG members,


This speaks to the need for the IGF to step up its role and to fully deliver on its mandate.

As reminded by the UN Secretary-General, the Internet is a powerful and essential global public good. It therefore requires the highest possible level of international cooperation.  


Last Thursday, the Secretary-General launched his Roadmap for digital cooperation, supporting various measures to enhance the IGF.


Yesterday, I submitted a note to the Secretary-General outlining how we are going to follow-up his Roadmap in enhancing the IGF in collaboration with all stakeholders.


In some areas, we have made headway, such as the high-level ministerial segment and the first-ever parliamentarian track convened in Berlin last year. And, the growing network and links among the global IGF and its regional, national, sub-regional and youth initiatives, or NRIs.


The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs is fully committed to support capacity development efforts, especially through the NRIs, together with other organizations.


These efforts include:


  • providing grants to support annual meetings of the NRIs, in drawing global, regional and national interlinkages, and
  • leveraging the network effect of the NRIs, by working together with other IG related organizations


In other areas, there is much more to be done. For example, there is need to:


  • better integrate intersessional work,
  • enhance the visibility of the IGF, and
  • address its long-term sustainability and the resources necessary for increased participation of stakeholders, especially those from the developing countries.  


This year marks the half-way point of IGF’s current mandate, ending in 2025. It is both timely and critical for us to reflect on past success and lessons learned.  


I invite MAG and all interested stakeholders to work with us and come up with concrete solutions for a stronger IGF.


Distinguished MAG Members,


The fifteenth meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) will now be held online this November.  Indeed, the COVID-19 global pandemic is requiring, of everyone, an unprecedented response to work together on a way forward and map out a positive turning point.


In programming this first-ever virtual meeting of the IGF, I welcome your ideas and proposals.  I invite you to innovate and highlight the central role of the Internet in this global crisis, along with concrete outcomes for consideration by the United Nations General Assembly and other global, regional or national forums and platforms.


I welcome your engagement with the IGF Secretariat and UNDESA in preparation of the forthcoming IGF in November.


I express my special appreciation to the Government of Poland, for extending its offer to host the physical meeting of IGF in 2021 instead.


It is also important for us to bring future meetings of the IGF to all geographical regions.


In this context, I also thank the Government of Ethiopia, who has offered to host the 17th meeting of IGF in 2022, supported by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and to the Government of Japan, who has offered to host the 18th meeting of IGF in 2023.


The relevance and success of the IGF is contingent on the continued engagement of all stakeholder groups, with participation of the international and intergovernmental bodies – across sectors, across disciplines and across generations.


Collectively, we have important responsibilities to fulfil to ensure successful outcomes of the IGF in 2020 and coming years.


I wish you all a vibrant, successful and outcome-oriented meeting.