IGF 2020 Second Open Consultations and MAG Meeting - Digital Cooperation

The following are the outputs of the captioning taken during an IGF virtual intervention. 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, but should not be treated as an authoritative record. 


>> FABRIZIO HOCHSCHILD: Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends and colleagues.  We're having this conversation under unusual circumstances at a pivotal moment in history.

 In a world already fundamentally transformed by digital technologies, the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for social distancing have propelled the adoption of information and communications technologies and transformed the bedrock of humanity's means of survival and prosperity:  communication.  To cooperate, we must communicate, and to communicate nowadays, we must use digital means.  This is an important time for Internet governance.

 COVID-19 has raised the stakes for global digital cooperation.  Over the last few months, my office, in partnership with the international telecommunications unit, organized a series of webinars on digital cooperation in times of COVID-19 and beyond.  These discussions considered challenges when urgent cooperation is required, such as with regard to the ongoing deficit in connectivity, with regard to human rights challenges and trust and security issues.  

 Health systems today don't just have to treat the sick.  They also have to deal with cyber attacks and the spread of dangerous, life-threatening misinformation.

 In follow-up to the Secretary-General's call for a global cease far, I also called for a digital cease fire.  Global cooperation is necessary if we wish to overcome the pandemic without drastically compromising values like privacy and freedom of speech.

 A few days ago, the Secretary-General presented his roadmap for digital cooperation which sets forth his vision for how the international community should engage on these and other key digital issues outlined in the report of the High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation.  The roadmap describes a range of actions for all stakeholders from the United Nations system to member states, the private sector, civil society organizations, and the technical community.  The United Nations, including the IGF, the Internet Governance Forum, can truly serve as a platform for informed discussion and evidence-based decisions and practices.

 The High-level Panel had noted, and I quote, "a great deal of dissatisfaction with existing digital cooperation arrangements, a desire for more tangible outcomes, more active and diverse participation by governments and the private sector, and more inclusive processes and better follow-up," end of quote.

 The IGF should be retooled to become more responsive and relevant to current digital issues.  We must ensure that the IGF is a forum that governments value and want to attend while preserving the important space it represents for other stakeholder engagement.

 The IGF's coordinating and strategic role needs to be further strengthened.  The roadmap includes a series of suggestions to further enhance the IGF, such as by improving fundraising, inclusion, and outcomes.  I hope you will all be engaged in the follow-up of the action areas highlighted in the Secretary-General's roadmap, and I hope you will all share your views specifically on how the IGF can be made even more responsive to the evolving challenges of digital cooperation.

 Thank you for your engagement and support of the IGF and digital cooperation.  We welcome and we need your ideas, your proposals, and your continued enthusiasm and support.

 Thank you.