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IGF 2017 - Day 1 - Assembly Hall - Opening Ceremony

 

The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Twelfth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Geneva, Switzerland, from 17 to 21 December 2017. 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. 

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>> Ladies and gentlemen, this is working.  Great.  Ladies and gentlemen, can we please start taking our seats?  We would like to start on time.

Thank you.

Ladies and gentlemen, can we start taking our seats, please?  Thank you very much. 

Ladies and gentlemen, can we take our seats?  Or I will start naming names. 

Ladies and gentlemen, can we please take our seats?  It’s 3:00, and we would like to finish on time.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are going to start in two minutes.

Can we please take your seats?

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome her excellency, Doris Leuthard, president of the Swiss Confederation.

(Applause).

>> Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.  Now we will have the pleasure to enjoy a cultural performance by a Swiss artist, it's known for a cool combination of Swiss tradition with modern style using digital technology to create a new musical experience.  He is the holder of multiple and national awards and has performed in numerous national and international events.  Enjoy.

(music) .

(Applause).

(musical performance.) .

(Applause).

>> MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 12th meeting of the Internet Governance Forum.  It is my honor to give the floor to Her Excellency, Ms. Doris Leuthard, president of the Swiss confederation.

(Applause).

>> DORIS LEUTHARD:  Ladies and gentlemen, heads of state and government, your excellencies, ministers, Secretary General of the ITU, Madam Director General UNESCO, ladies and gentlemen, it's a very great pleasure for me to welcome you here to Geneva for the 12th United Nations Forum of the Internet Governance Forum.  It's just a few kilometers away, but Sir Timothy John Berners‑Lee invented the world wide web in Cern in 1989.  And it's here in Geneva that in 2003, under the leaders of the World Summit on the information society, that we saw the launch of a new international dialogue in a new, unique policy concept, a multi-stakeholder internet governance concept, an innovative process, which was inaugurated that year for the very first time in the history of the United Nations, the State invited the private sector and civil society to participate in discussions on equal footing. 

Of course, we are very happy that the 2017 IGF forum can benefit from the solid experience of international Geneva, in very many issues which are extremely relevant to digitalization.  This is a forum which occurs two years after one of the most important outcomes of the World Summit, it represents one of the major platforms allowing for a dialogue between all stakeholders which is inclusive, interactive, and open and will touch on all issues related to the use of the internet and the principles of its governance.  The forum has also managed to ensure that there are new issues on the agenda which are very relevant to the governance of the internet. 

Thanks to partnerships and making sure that solutions are available within existing institutions, your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, this new digital world is one which profoundly changes our environment.  It is, of course, a great opportunity, issues such as access, everyone to the internet, the impact of digitalization on the STG's, but also cyber security must be dealt with together.  It is essential to have a dialogue if we want to make sure that we have an information society which is centered on the human being, which is inclusive and which brings about development which is in line with the vision that was brought forward at the World Summit in 2003 and 2005.  The values and principles of cooperation and of multi-stakeholder commitment require investment from all parties, be they international organizations, the private sectors, civil society, the technology community, universities, United Nations’ agencies and governments. 

The key to all of this lies in constructive cooperation, improving the exchange of information on projects which are already under way, a joint dialogue to identify issues and relevant intersectional interface and strong partnerships bringing together all stakeholders.  At the domestic level, Switzerland has made sure that it has all essential instruments available. 

We have, in 2016, been working on additional Switzerland strategy, and we also have been conducting an ongoing dialogue with all key stakeholders involved in digitalization.  Digital Switzerland strategy identifies how all of the authorities, the economy, the scientific community, civil society, and political stakeholders must work together to make sure that Switzerland can fully benefit from this process of change and to make sure that all of our society will be able to benefit from these developments.  At the same time, a national dialogue involving all interested parties has been implemented to make sure that there is cooperation between all levels of administration and representatives from the economy, civil society, politics, and the scientific community. 

I can tell you that we have had some excellent experience in this area because we are very happy with the dialogue that we have been conducting which has seen contributions from many causes.  Switzerland is firmly convinced in that we must invest in a multi-lateral and a multi‑stakeholders system which works fully.  The idea of strengthening cooperation between governments and involving all stakeholders is nothing new, but it is something that we don't see enough of, and that is not as effective as it could be.  Simply networking all stakeholders will not be enough.  We also have to demonstrate open mindedness, and we must show respect for the values and needs of all stakeholders. 

We have to find new ways for connecting stakeholders and ensure that they have appropriate opportunities to exchange experiences and best practices, and tackle the challenges that we face.  If we don't find platforms for dialogue, if we don't find practices that everyone can adapt to their needs and which are convincing, then it will always be policies that govern, we don't always want that.  We want dialogue.  We want to have a shared feeling of what we can regulate and what we can do together with common rules.  I am certain that this forum represents a key opportunity for us to take our cooperation further, and it is an opportunity which we must all seize together.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, with this year's forum, we are taking an important step forward in strengthening the forum which will be to the benefit of the future of digitalization.  And the title or slogan, shape your digital future, this is a forum which will focus on the interests of citizens, of the economy, and of the political world. The themes and issues that we will discuss this year are not just the outcome of expert group study, it is a bottom up process, which has yielded these issues.

The forum this year will particularly focus on key issues of the digital change.  The forum will, therefore, be discussing data policy, which is a very important issue, cybersecurity, the digital divide, particularly the digital divide between men and women, universal sustainable development, and changes in media communication.

We hope that the discussions and the exchanges over the coming days will make a positive contribution helping us to find common responses to the challenges which so affect our lives.

And we very much hope that the tools which will be provided by the Geneva internet platform supported by Switzerland will be useful for you. We continue to believe that we must strengthen cooperation so that we can lay the foundations for an information society which is open and which opens the doors to a shared digital future which is fairer and more just.

On behalf of the Swiss federal council, the council of state of the republican council of Geneva and the administrative council of the City of Geneva, it is a great honor for me to invite you to a reception that will be held at 6:30 this evening in the world intellectual property organization building. 

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your kind attention.  I wish you a pleasant stay here in Geneva, and I would urge you to be bold in your work.  Thank you.

(Applause).

MODERATOR:  Thank you very much, Your Excellency.  Now we will have a video message from the United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Antonio Guterres.

ANTONIO GUTERRES:  The internet and technologies in general have an immense role to play in helping us address global sustainable development challenges.  But there is a growing danger that the internet can be used for polarization, division, and criminal activity.  We must ensure that it serves to improve the human condition.  That means bridging digital divides based on locality, means, and gender.  It means establishing governance that supports innovation while respecting human rights and protecting society.  I wish you a successful forum.  The United Nations looks forward to working with all of you to realize the vast promise of the internet for a better world for all.

(Applause).

MODERATOR:  I now have the honor to give the floor to the Under Secretary General of the United Nations Department of economic and social affairs, Mr. Liu Zhenmin.

LIU ZHENMIN:  Your Excellency, Madam Leuthard, president of the Swiss confederation, excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the United Nations Secretary General, I'm honored to welcome you all to the 12th annual meeting of Internet Governance Forum.  This is the second time the forum is taking place at your premises.  After 11 IGF in Nairobi, I'm also honored to welcome you to the United Nations.  We are in Geneva, the place where foundations of this forum were set.  So, I would like to take this opportunity to remind us all about how the forum was created and why.

Exactly 40 years ago in December, 2003, the government of Switzerland hosted the first phase of the World Summit and the Information Society, WSIS  The summit was a focus identifying concrete action lines – the information society and use the information and communications technologies and tools for development.  The summit brought into focus the concept of internet governance, which remains critical today for developing internet policy in open, transparent, inclusive in a multi-stakeholder manner.  The final document of the Geneva summit, inclusive of the United Nations Secretary General to set up a multi‑stakeholder working group by internet governance whose report in June, 2005, paved the way for the establishment of the Internet Governance Forum.  The Tunisia agenda and the information society adopted at the end of the second phase of WSIS in November 2005 considered the recommendations of the working group and amended it, United Nations Secretary General, to come in to the Internet Governance Forum.  Today the IGF, the multi‑stakeholder, opened an inclusive forum, and internet related policy issues remains vital.  Twelve years on, the forum is returning to Geneva, a place where it all started.  I would like to thank the government of Switzerland for hosting us here.  Madam President, and Madam, Mr. Maudet, Counselor of Geneva, and Mr. Pagani, the mayor of Geneva, thank you for being our host. 

Geneva is a home to many international government organizations.  This IGF is the time and opportunity to further integrate the experience and expertise of these organizations into a global internet governance process.  I was fortunate to work with many of them during my service, as – of China to the United Nations office in Geneva and the international organization in Switzerland from 2012 to 2013.

So, it is also homecoming for me on a personal level.  Why did I start with such a history lesson?  Simply because I believe that, while we try to prepare ourselves for the future, we should always be aware of the past to understand why we are where we are.  Over the past 12 years, the IGF has made crucial contributions to public policy for the internet, from human rights on line, to cybersecurity, to critical internet ‑‑ and to harnessing the internet for sustainable development.  The world has undoubtedly changed since 2003, and the internet has changed, too.

In 2003, we were talking about the information society.  Now we talk about digital economy – issues, digitalization, the internet of things, and artificial intelligence, among others.  The internet and digital technologies have become more and more part of our lives and society’s.  The challenge we face is how to harness the technology to maximize the benefits to society while minimizing the negative impact.

The theme of this year's IGF is “Shape Your Digital Future.”  A key question is how we can make sure that the information and communication technologies do not create more divides among people and regions, and how we shape our digital future in a way that the bridges, that divides, and that bring societies together, not just today's generations, but also tomorrow's.  This is where IGF continues to add value, by serving in an open and inclusive space that forces discussions and collaborations on these critical policy issues.  The United Nations General Assembly recognizes these developments and the potential of the IGF when it renewed the amendment of IGF in 2015.

The renewal of the IGF mandate came with just a few minutes after the adoption of the 2030 agenda and the STGs.  The importance of communication technologies elaborated on the part of STG 4, STG 5, STG 9, and STG 17.  I want to draw your attention to STG 9, which calls for significantly increasing access to information and communication technology and restoring to provide universal and affordable access to the internet in these given countries by the year 2020.  Achieving this target is just three years away. I believe the outcome of the IGF communities’ work will be a vital contribution towards the STG's and a more inclusive and sustainable digital future for all.

As the week unfolds, I hope it will give you more reasons to continue to be part of the IGF process, globally, but also within your regions and countries.  I wish you all to have a fruitful discussion and a pleasant stay in Geneva.  Thank you.

(Applause).

MODERATOR:  Thank you very much, secretary general.  I would now like to call upon the director general of the United Nations office at Geneva, where we are holding our meeting here,  Mr. Michael Moller, to give an address.

(Applause).

>> MICHAEL MOLLER:  Thank you.  Madam president, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, it's my great pleasure to welcome you to the Palais des Nations today and to share some brief thoughts at the outset of this year’s meeting of the Internet Governance Forum.  But before I do, let me first express our gratitude to the government of Switzerland for hosting this year's IGF in Geneva, which really is the natural home for internet governance.  It is the home of key actors of the digital space, from Cern, the inventor of the world wide web, to the international federal communications union, its diverse ecosystem and pioneering mindset makes Geneva the place where digital innovation is fostered, where digital policies are debated, and where global implementation is agreed.

  Today over three and a half billion people connect to the internet through more than eight billion devices.  I have a theory that a visitor from the past would wander about many things in our world today, but probably nothing would take the visitor's breath away quite as much as browsing the internet.  It has compressed time and space, allowing you to speak, chat, or even see your friends in Lagos while you sit in a café in Milan.  It can deliver the entirety of human knowledge, on a single hand-held device, the answer to the question of who was the King of England in 1620 or how to make guacamole are literally seconds away.

But for all its wonders the internet, and technological progress more generally, has also produced a series of challenges we have only just begun to focus on.  Technology has equipped some governments with a means of surveillance of almost anyone anywhere at any time.  Technology has given some private IT companies so much power that they can influence election outcomes.  They collect so much data about you and me, they may even know more about us than we do ourselves. 

Technology has increased the risk of conflict as a new arms race is gaining speed and weaponized robotics and artificial intelligence.  Cyberspace is a new battle field, co‑equal with combat on land, sea, and air.  Algorithms can be as powerful as tanks, boats as destructive as bombs.  And technology strains society’s cohesion as it shifts its division of income from labor to capital, automation creates new opportunities but threatens to make almost half of all existing jobs redundant.  How can we train the millions of jobless people so that they can acquire the necessary qualifications for the new jobs that will be created? 

Taken together, yesterday's optimism has somehow given way to today's trust deficit.  To safeguard the good and tame the bad of tomorrow's technologies, we are faced with an urgent governance challenge.  And this governance challenge will hardly be solved through traditional forms of regulations, although they certainly have a role to play, but the pace and scale of technological innovation is so swift and so broad, traditional regulation is managed by governance or intergovernmental organizations in invariably fails to keep up, which means that the only way to establish mechanisms of regulation fit for our brave new digital world will have to be different. 

It will need to be people centered and inclusive, combining all stakeholders, governments, companies, civil society, scientists, and academia, all of them are present here today in Geneva making it the place to develop the regulatory frameworks needed, flexible enough to allow for innovation to prosper, but protective enough to preserve the social cohesion of our society.  This in a nutshell is the ambition and the value of the Internet Governance Forum, and it is also your challenge the next couple of days.  And I wish you much success.  Thank you very much.

(Applause).

MODERATOR:  Thank you very much.  I would now like to give the floor to the secretary general of the international telecommunication union, Mr. Houlin Zhao.

(Applause)

HOULIN ZHAO:  Madam president, Mr. Under Director General of the United Nations, (?), Mr. Assistant Director General of UNESCO, (?), and Mr. Liu Zhenmin, ladies and gentlemen good afternoon.  So much progress has made in information and communication technology over the past two decades.  ICT's has transformed the people's lives around the world, and they have a critical role to play in helping to achieve the 2017 agenda for development.  So much of this progress is thanks to the World Summit on the Information Society.  Fourteen years ago, December, this month, the first phase of the WSIS was taking place right here in Geneva.  The second phase was in Tunesia in 2005.  Out of this process emerged the Internet Governance Forum and the WSIS forum.  These two major platforms have been working side by side ever since. 

I'm really pleased to see the IGF this year take place in Geneva for the first time after the WSIS process.  My heartfelt (?) to all those who make it possible, it's good to hear voices, faces, from the government, private sector, international organizations, end users, and the public all in one place to discuss internet governance issues.  I, too, fully support the open and inclusive discussion platform like IGF.  We ourselves have a long-standing history of working with all different stakeholders.  The WSIS forum is a good example. This forum has become the world's leading ICT for development event, and I invite you all to join our next event in March next year in Geneva.

Ladies and gentlemen, as we reflect on what ICT's have achieved over the last decade, and look to the future, let's remember that still 3.9 billion people are not connected on-line yet.  As the UN specialized agency for ICT's, ITU’s core mission is to connect all the people whatever the (?) and whatever the means.  We developed global standards on communication technologies and the services, managed spectrum and satellite objects and are assisting developing countries for infrastructure and policy development on ICT.  We are working on the range of emerging technologies from cloud computing to big data to artificial intelligence to the internet of things, and of course, 4G and 5G.  By we, I mean ITU, our membership of 193 member states, and over 800 private sector entities, international and regional organizations, academia, and civil society, including the technical giants like Google, FaceBook, and Alibaba, who joined us since 2015 and 2016.  Because partnerships are essential, ITU and IGF are strong partners, and I'm happy to see our cooperation with organizations like ICANN (?). 

Ladies and gentlemen, cooperation is what brings us here today.  Cooperation, coordination, and collaboration are at the heart of the agenda for (?) which will shape our digital future, the theme of this year's IGF.  Together we need to face the challenges and opportunities of the digital revolution.  And I promise, I can promise that I, too, will continue to play this part to join all of you to work on these issues.  I wish you a pleasant stay in Geneva and wish you a very successful IGF 2017.  Thank you very much.

(Applause).

MODERATOR:  Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary General.

And I have the pleasure to call the assistant director general of the United Nations educational, scientific, and cultural organization, Mr. Frank La Rue.

(Applause).

FRANK LA RUE:  Madam President of the confederation, of the Swiss confederation, Under Secretary General for economic and social affairs, UN representative of the UN office in Geneva, director general of ITU, state council representative in Switzerland, and mayor of the City of Geneva, and all friends, women and men here present today who are joining efforts and minds to celebrate and to promote a free and open internet for everyone in the world.  It's with great pleasure that bring congratulations of the director general UNESCO to the Swiss confederation for having sponsored this event.  And we understand in very hasty and difficult circumstances, but a very important decision to be able to carry out progressively every single year, an IGF meeting. 

For us, from UNESCO, it's very important to understand that the building of internet began with the sharing of knowledge between academics, and it pretty soon became a necessity for everyone in society.  And eventually states understood that it was the sharing of information and knowledge to build knowledge societies and to be able to develop democracies with participation of citizens, but also to reach the democratic development and sustainable development.  And in this process, in the WSIS summit, as was mentioned here in Geneva, there was a decision to have everyone participate in the way on formulating suggestions and having a say in the policies of governance of internet in 2006, the first IGF meeting in Athens. 

And since then, subsequently, the meetings have remained.  I remember that initially the decision was for five years, just to see how this experiment could carry out.  But five years went by and everyone was satisfied, and the nature of the debates began to change.  Because obviously internet technologies and ICT's were moving ahead, but also the needs of societies were changing. 

And very soon it was obvious that internet has a role for every sector of society, and internet satisfied the needs of everyone, and that it was important to listen to everyone through the experts that knew about internet, whether they were academics that began the internet, whether they were government officials that were formulating regulations, whether they were enterprises that would develop the inventions and commercialize them, or whether there was civilized societies and organizations defending the rights of the people in different forms.  And this became a very rich dialogue, where we were able to talk about sharing information but with gender equity.  We were able to talk about accessible to people for people with disabilities, or we were able to talk about rural internet and development in the rural areas.

And progressively the debate began changing.  I believe there's only one area in which we have not been successful, we have also been able to reach cultural diversity and the dimension of linguistic expressions around the world to which we still have to grow but has progressed in time.  But the one issue that we are still I think are lacking is the possibility of making internet a stronger and better peace builder by sharing the information.  UNESCO in its constitution has a beautiful phrase that says it is an institution to build peace by facilitating the free flow of ideas and knowledge between peoples of the world.  This free flow of ideas and knowledge is basically the role of internet as well.  And this is why we all believe in an internet, but an internet that satisfies the needs of all sectors and that leaves all societies in a better stage.  And this is why we keep on meeting. 

But today I would say we have a bigger challenge.  And it has already been mentioned by two of my predecessors, today we are moving into a different era of ICTs and digital communication and internet, we are talking about internet of things, we are talking about analysis of big data, we are talking about questions of privacy or non‑privacy, or we are talking about issues that would relate to artificial intelligence and will that provoke unemployment or not. 

We are moving into a new phase that can have beautiful opportunities for development.  But will also have tremendous challenges.  So this dialogue that is beginning today in Geneva is much more important today than it ever was before because it is much more complex.  And the challenge is for us to understand the internet and to share our views is much more important because we also have the fact that violence has also grown, harassment of women on internet, or issues of extremism and violence on‑line, or cyber bullies and other problems have also grown, and many of the states have brought it to our attention, and we have to begin thinking of how to respond to that keeping in mind that this is an element that has to have a free flow of communication.

These are the challenges that we have in front of us.  At UNESCO, there was a conference a few years ago connecting the dots where there was at least four basic principles defined, the ROAM principles, R-O-A-M, which were that UNESCO should at least have always have a human rights approach, a fundamental human rights approach that is essentially the mandate of the United Nations as a whole; secondly, it should be open, neutral, and respond to all.  Thirdly it should be accessible so we should increase the accessible and connectivity, all different forms of connectivity, and find the appropriate content. And the fourth is the multi‑stakeholders dialogue.  Why a multi‑stakeholder dialogue which is obviously a very difficult phenomena?  Because this will allow those that define the regulations or corporations that define the design of new products or the policies for internet in the future, their social responsibility policies, or those that are dealing with the way that the human rights are being seen by society. 

We have to define something that builds on common standards, an equal understanding of how the internet is a service for all, which is why we cannot privilege internet from one society to another or from one sector of society to another or from one region of the world or one gender to another or one close to another, or one class or social area to another.  We have to build the possibility of policy of internet that responds to all of those needs. 

Here let me finish with saying that we have in this challenge, we have the new agenda set by the United Nations and the secretary general Guterres has very much assisted on the 2030 agenda of sustainable development goals.  But the bottom line of these goals is the access to information.  And we have goal 16 that from fundamentally says that in order to reach development we must have societies in peace with inclusiveness, with justice, transparency, and full access to information.  Full access to information means a free internet, an open internet, an accessible internet, an internet that serves the building of knowledge societies for everyone, and it does not represent a danger for anyone.  This is our challenge, how to make internet an instrument of development and an instrument of peace.  Thank you.

(Applause).

MODERATOR:  Thank you very much, Mr. Liu.  Our next speaker is Mr. Pierre Maudet, State Council of the Republic and the (?) of Geneva.

(Applause).

PIERRE MAUDET:  Madam President of the confederation, Mr. Secretary general, Mr. Assistant Director General, Mr. Mayor, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, it is a great honor and a pleasure to see you here in Geneva at this 12th forum on internet governance.

To a large extent, we owe our presence here today to an event which took place in Geneva in 2003, and then which was followed in 2005 in Tunis.  The world Summit for the information society launched the Internet Governance Forum and the multi‑party approach to internet governance. It therefore seems important for it to take place in Geneva, a city which includes a unique number of organizations and societies active in dealing with the internet.  Every day hundreds of people in this city in intergovernmental organizations of the UN system, international organizations such as the international committee for the Red Cross and ‑‑ non‑governmental organizations, and in other associations and organizations, all of these people work to make the internet more accessible, more effective, more fair, and more open, but also more beneficial to help to benefit everyone.

At a time when some threats that, when there are threats to internet neutrality, when there's more and more talk about the risks than the opportunities of big data, artificial intelligence, but also the potential of robots, it is more necessary than ever to bring together experts in this area.

To bring them together around the idea that the internet is an ongoing revolution, which by its nature must be based on solidarity, the slogan for this forum is shape your digital future.  In order to shape our digital future, we not only need to master the tools, but we also need to have confidence in our tools and in the partners that we are going to work with to build our future.

Security has therefore become one of the most important issues for the internet, with very differing views about measures that should be adopted by different administrations, security is related to the internet in terms of its infrastructure, but also the internet in terms of its contents.

In Geneva, we have launched the Geneva digital talks so that all parties concerned, public administration, IT companies, on the other hand, but also academic circles, non‑governmental organizations, and representatives of civil society can all openly discuss their views of a safer internet, not only safer at all levels, but for all users.  We will present the results during this forum, and I will be pleased to discuss this with you.

You are in a country, in a town where we built a very complex infrastructure for housing, and the internet is also complex, and this is a good place to discuss this complexity especially here in Geneva, in the City of Calvin, who made ethics the framework necessary for developing all human activities.  We are convinced that the internet is a very powerful tool to shape our future.  But as in our physical societies, we need to ensure that our digital future is as inclusive and respectful of all.  We are pleased to see you here in Switzerland and we are convinced that Switzerland has good experiences to share.  We will also be happy to share and hear your experiences so we can shape our digital future together.  I wish you a productive and successful 12th Internet Governance Forum, and I want to thank you for participating here and on‑line throughout the world.  Thank you.

(Applause).

MODERATOR:  Thank you very much, Mr. Maudet.  Our final speaker for opening ceremony is the mayor of the Geneva, Mr. Remy Pagani.

REMY PAGANI:  Madam President of the confederation, Mr. Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Under Secretary General for Social and Economic Affairs of the United Nations, Mr. Director General of the Office in Geneva, Mr. Secretary general of the international telecommunications union, Mr. Under Director General for Communication and Information at UNESCO, Mr. State Counselor, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, friends,  as mayor of Geneva, it is a pleasure and an honor for me to welcome all of you very warmly to Geneva, which has the honor to welcome you to this 12th annual Internet Governance Forum. 

Our city is very pleased to be able to allow various stakeholders to have a platform for exchange and dialogue about subjects related to developments with internet governance.  Today it is undeniable that the growth of its network as well as the threat, it is increasing presence in all of our spheres of society make it an indisputable focus for economical, political, and social issues.  As a local city official who thinks about ways to implement public policies that are effective and that are adapt to the needs of the population, the question of technical progress and the possibilities offered by the internet is obviously a crucial one.

We would note that there are many problems to be faced.  The digital transition is the priority of all organizations, public and private, with global efforts.  Also there's the digital divide which has not been closed between developed and developing countries, so we need to guaranty access to usage on equal footing of the internet.  The internet for me is a common good, which makes part of the common heritage of humanity as a whole, it is a great tool, an excellent one, and it has the potential to serve democracy, culture, peace, and strengthen economic and social cultural rights for the majority of people in the world, it has great potential.

Recent decisions taken a few days ago by the Trump administration and the US about the net neutrality of internet are more than worrying.  And as our other (?) which has come up and which has made us worry about the breaking up of the internet and we need to (?) for all, and where the companies have power.  There have been several works written about this public good.  The principle of neutrality is a central one, thanks to which the internet makes it possible to create.  Because the internet works as a common good, it allows anyone to find other people and to establish collaboration and create new things without paying a preferential tariff, without having to fine the capital or to convince entrepreneurs, this is after the second world war where the national council of the resistance was already talking about neutrality for correspondence and applying it to the post.  Today in Geneva, in Switzerland, as in other places, defense of the public postal service against privatization and the effects is an ongoing important battle. 

And in terms of the internet, there are also enormous stakes, equality, transparency, democratic regulation rather than marketization, that is what we will debate in the coming days.  The debate is in your hands.  I hope that this forum will be productive along these lines. It is essential, also, that with the view to digital technology that we can make this service accessible for all, and in the same way we are seeing today, an explosion of different mobile solutions with the establishment of policies and the use of mobile solutions, everyone knows that today everything is becoming digitalized and tomorrow we will all have access to services that were even more unimaginable several years ago. 

So what is the effect of this digitalization?  Some lament the end of friendly relationships (?)we are bogged down in social networks, others are excited about the promises of artificial intelligence, and yet others things that artificial intelligence could be the worst thing in the history of our civilization.  If we go a bit further in observations, things seem clear.  What we are seeing quite simply is a fundamental change in relationships between human beings in the private sphere, change of relationships between companies and their clients, between agents of the public service and users, no type of human relation is spared. 

So what is the conclusion to draw from this?  The trap that we need to avoid above all is thinking that the digital world per se will resolve all of our problems, create jobs, and allow for greater efficiency of public services.  Smart cities, in which we all live, which most of us live, will be those which are built around the needs of their inhabitants who are no longer considered only as users, but as central actors in the development.  It is only on this condition that the genuine change will take place, but it will do so insofar as human beings and organizations take ownership of the digital revolution, and make it an object for promotion and development of freedom and not the reverse.  Thank you for your attention.

(Applause).

MODERATOR:  Thank you very much, Mr. Mayor.  I would now like to call upon our Secretary General, Mr. Liu, to do the formal opening of the IGF meeting.  Thank you.

MR. LIU ZHENMIN:  The opening ceremony is going to come to end.  In accordance with the customs of the Internet Governance Forum, I now have the honor to invite Her Excellency, Ms. Doris Leuthard, president of the Swiss confederation to resume the chair presidency of the 2017 IGF on behalf of the government of Switzerland.  Madam, please?

(Applause).

DORIS LEUTHARD:  Thank you so much.  I thank you, Under Secretary General, for the kind words.  I have the pleasure and the honor to accept the chairpersonship of this 2017 forum; hereby I officially open the forum 2017 here in Geneva.  Thank you so much.

(Applause)

Contact Information

United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 411