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IGF 2020 – Day 12 – High-Level Leaders Track: UN Wrap-up

The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the virtual Fifteenth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), from 2 to 17 November 2020. 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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>> Thank you very much to our panelists, it was a great session.  We will be having the closing session in this room, in the same room, so if you want to stay for the closing session, please stay and those closing session panelists, just stay in this room and we will upgrade you to panelists if you're in the audience.  So thank you again and we'll see you in 20 minutes.  Thank you.  David do you want to say something?

>> Fantastic work, but everybody left.

>> Sorry.

>> Cheers.

>> Good afternoon or good morning to you.  Can we just test our cameras and microphone?

>> ANRIETTE ESTERHUYSEN: If you want to listen to the interpretation ‑‑

>> Under Secretary General, can you switch on your microphone just to have a mic test, if you can hear me.  And also Vallarie, welcome.

>> VALLARIE YIEGA: I can hear you loud and clear, can you hear me?

>> We can hear and see you, thank you, great.

>> We have more relevance to our lives than the responsible and effective governance of the internet and digital technology.

>> MODERATOR: Hello my name is Jonathan Charles, I'm the managing director of communications.  The many years I was a BBC foreign correspondent and lucky to have attended several physical meetings of the IGF.  Here we are, it's come around very quickly, the closing high level session of the 15th annual Internet Governance forum.  I've been lucky enough to see the conversations myself and I hope you caught some of them as well.

The internet has never been more important in the world in which we're currently living.  Over the next hour or two, we'll be examining just what the future holds, what does that mean for governance.  First of all, we're going to start with some remarks at this closing session by the United States Secretary General, we're happy to welcome Antonio Guterres.

>> SECRETARY GENERAL GUTERRES: It is a pleasure to address this closing session of the 15th annual internet governance forum.  The COVID‑19 pandemic has shown a spotlight on the importance of digital technologies and transformation and the need to enhance the IGF.  This year has brought new evidence of the benefits of connectivity.  Internet access is promoting healthcare, jobs, and lives.  But the pandemic is exacerbating inequalities of all kinds, including digital divides.

Those without access to visual technology, almost half the world, are denied opportunities to study, communicate, trade, shop, work and participate in much of modern life.  Close to over a billion students are affected by school closures and the most marginalized are at a risk of never returning to school.  For those online, it's increased vulnerabilities to harms and abuses of many kinds.

It threatens to reduce the uptick of any effectiveness of any vaccines that become available.  Hate speech and discrimination are running riot in digital spaces.  And the risk of fragmented internet is greater than ever.  These are critical areas and my road map sets a way forward for its vision to protect and respect all people online.  I welcome this forum's focus on digital inclusion, which is essential to building a strong recovery.  We need to address the growing digital gender gap.

The pursuit of inclusion must determine not just our approach to expending connectivity, but also how we manage data.  We need to look at how we can make the best use of digital data for the public good and develop the governance frameworks that recognize diversity and businesses and communities and advance the sustainability development goals.

Many of you representing different communities from governments, the private sector, civil society, the technical and academic communities are working closely with the United Nations to further the aims of the road map.  This includes narrowing digital provides, promoting digital inclusion, achieving universal connectivity, and protecting human rights online.  Together as we seek to build a strong recovery from the pandemic, we can reduce the harmful aspects of digital technology and then unleash its power as a true equalizer and enabler.  I urge governments to make sure your plans to make ‑‑ the discussions over the last week have been important and meaningful.

The IGF is a vital role in connecting the dots of the global digital map.  But this cannot fulfill this role unless it reaches decision makers.  We must act urgently to stress the IGF so it can enhance its unique role in the digital architecture.  After more than a decade of consultations, we have identified several areas of improvement.  This aims from funding sustainability to proposed multistakeholder within the IGF that can translate important discussions into concrete impacts.

My road map sets off a series of actions to this end and I intend to move quickly.  We need an IGF that is relevant and impactful.  We need to be a place where companies, experts and civil society from all parts of the world come together, share ideas, develop solution and agree on common standards and principles.  I congratulate you on your discussions this week and I thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, indeed.  A big thank you from the United Nations Secretary General.  First of all, we're going to watch a video, IGF 2020, let's see some of the key messages from the events of the past few days.

>> In the least developed countries, only 19% individuals were online.  We are leaving a larger majority behind.  We need solutions that help bridge the digital divide so that the benefits of digital technologies can reach those being left behind unconnected.

>> The SDG target of achieving universal connectivity by 2020 has not been met.  3.6 billion people continue to lack access to the internet.

[ No audio ]

>> MODERATOR: Hello, and apologies for those of you who had trouble hearing parts of that video.  It is available online by the way.  You will be able to see it any time you like.  Go and take a look.  Here we are, the first of our panels now.

We're going to be looking in the next few minutes at what's happening with the internet now, what's next, and is the internet ready for COVID‑19 recovery.  Let me introduce the panel, if I could ask them to make sure their cameras are switched on and their sound is switched on on panel one.  First of all, let me introduce Vice Minister Of National Planning and Economic Policy from Costa Rica, Carlos Molina.  Maxim Parshin, from the Russian Federation.  Krzysztof Szubert and Vera Songwe for the Economic Commission for Africa.  Finally, Anriette Esterhuysen, very important of course in this event.

Let me start I think by looking at the future host countries.  We've got Poland hosting the IGF in 2021.  Ethiopia in 2022.  Russia in 2025.  And I'd like to start with those ministers, perhaps the Polish minister first, the Republic of Poland, Krzysztof Szubert.  Knowing about the trends and development, in what areas do you think the IGF should focus in the future in terms of internet governance?

>> KRZYSZTOF SZUBERT: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.  So for me, as a former member, it gives me great pleasure to be here with you today online.  And I would start with a couple of comments on the question posed.

COVID‑19 has demonstrated the importance of digital technologies.  It's clear we can use technologies in digital response.  COVID‑19 pandemic accelerated many projects that had been long overdue which is actually quite our experience from the last weeks or months.  It worked out to the effect that priorities were changed in order to favor digital based approach in general and it has been our experience in Poland.

Back to your question, is the internet ready for COVID‑19 recovery.  I would say that, yes, in fact this is the best recovery plan we can have, digital solutions based on internet action has allowed mediums to continue working in lock down so the strategic importance of the internet has been confirmed.  If there is one thing remote education has certainly taught us it is that modern digital infrastructure is extremely important to actually ‑‑ in addition we must ensure cybersecurity, guarantee trusted and secured data processing in our digital and cyber education.

In the era of shaping a new digital cyber society, the process of building open, same and transparent global internet becomes particularly important.  I would also add that we need more international cooperation on big projects, especially like in our case in Central Eastern Europe across political formats we have in place such as treaties formats.  And it puts a bigger focus on coordinated investment and funds, such the lack of investment capital may soon become a major issue worldwide, keep in mind that 60% plus of innovation is within digital segments.

There is still a lot of work to be done in this area and there are still many questions that we will seek answers to during the next editions of IGF in Poland in the upcoming year.  Thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Just to come back at you with one question.  You talked about the growing ‑‑ how we've seen the growing importance of the internet in recent months and it will be very important in the recovery.  What does that mean do you think for the growing need for some form of internet governance?

>> KRZYSZTOF SZUBERT: What I see from at least our experience or across Europe that many governments realize the importance of digital technology and so they're up to date.  I think the digital transformation, it's much higher right now on the agenda, which is good keeping in mind the situation you have with the pandemic.  So I would say that the ‑‑ having it on a certain level, be focused on the technology, see how it can be helpful within different sectors of the economy is not only digital transformation or digital economy, but most of the sectors in our economy, they are influenced by digital transformation.  I think that's the answer.

We should cover maybe on the next panels or next meetings next year in Poland also the economical aspects.  I think that investment funds, economical aspects, they're extremely important.  Such without funds, without investment there will be no digital transformation at all.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, indeed, for the moment.  Let me move on to the country after Poland who will be hosting the IGF.  That will be Ethiopia. With me is Ahmendin Ahmed.  What does it mean for governance in the COVID‑19 period?

>> AHMENDIN AHMED:   I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to take part in this meeting of the Internet Governance forum.  (choppy audio).

>> MODERATOR: I think you are breaking up.  You're breaking up on your signal.  Perhaps I could ask you to turn your video off and speak to us just in audio only and maybe the signal will be better.

>> AHMENDIN AHMED: So in the future, I believe in order to bring a lasting impact we should focus on infrastructure in the end user.  When we say the infrastructure, we should focus on the international and the national gateways in increasing the capacity in finding and innovating ways to reduce the cost.  We should focus on access and we should focus on standardizing our data center for local content delivery.

The second thing we should focus on is the end user.  We should work on improving data literacy because the COVID‑19 is impacting the older sector as mentioned by the previous speaker and the Ethiopian government is working on initiatives.  And within this framework we have national initiative and making affordable devices widely available.

We do have a transaction problem, so we should encourage the user of digital and online payments in the future.  So from the policy perspective, initially the policy framework should focus on exhaustively utilizing internet ‑‑ increasing accessibility for sustainability development and prosperity.  The second one is policies that help government to focus on quality of education and avail the education system with additional content that help to shape the future and policies for the economy that result a better living standard.  It's a very important thing and we should focus on big data, the internet of things, cyber security and human rights issues related to the mission.  Thank you, Jonathan.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, indeed.  The sound was very good, thank you, in the end, thanks for persevering with that.  Let us move on to the next country.  Russia will be hosting the IGF in 2025.  Maxim Parshin is with us.  How do you see this question of the internet now, the internet of the future and the governance issues that goes along with that?  [speaking non‑English language]

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, indeed, Minister, for joining us.  Just so everyone's aware there is translation available by the way.  You'll find the translation buttons up there on the screen.

Let's move on to another country, let's go to Latin America and Vice Minister Of National Planning And Economic Policy, Carlos Molina.  When you look at the challenges that Costa Rica faces, what are they?  What are the unique challenges you're facing in this arena and the challenges that Latin America is facing?

>> CARLOS MOLINA: Good morning, good afternoon, good evening to all of you around the world.  Thank you for having us.

We have seen three areas where we have faced different challenges that are in education, work, and health.  During this crisis, it's shown us a key issue regarding poverty and internet.  Related with income increased with the last register, but most are stable, so we have good news.

We showed household internet use dropped 5% compared with the last register from 20% to 50%.  Considering public and private education has been driven through the web as well as remote working, internet literacy is a key driver for access and protection.  In case of women, the country has shown a reduction regarding the gap to the computer access comparing male and female.  Now internet access has moved from computer use to other devices so it's easier to bring internet to everyone.

Our 2020 national review showed also about SGD4, quality education.  The percentage of educational establishment with computer connected to internet for education purposes in elementary and elementary school increased significantly.  And the challenge is the capacity being used due to confinement.  So investment should be considered with internet access.  Consultation has been done through telephone and internet via video conference, so access to broadband internet is crucial for health and service access.

Detailed gaps were already previews in this crisis, so the current situation has showed these gaps, digital gaps and to manage several market, and human skills for employment and production.  What we know right now is digital transformation is reversible.  And that's why public investment should be around 1% GDP per year for social inclusion.  Also, the countries should create digital market basket including smartphones, tablets, computer, plus internet plans.

As I mentioned before, education and health depends in this time, in this new normality of internet access.  Internet is a key driver from the 2030 implementation.  What are the financial alternatives?  Latin America has a public financial trends, so the target for digital inclusion can be crucial for those countries and to the world as a whole.  Middle income countries has 75% of the population of the planet and including India and China.  And one third of the global GDP and have the ‑‑ so target finance for this digital inclusion can be a global outcome for the 2030 agenda implementation.  Thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, indeed, Vice Minister.  Let's turn to Vera Songwe.  I mean, Africa has some very distinct challenges of its own.  How do you see them?  What are the unique challenges the continent is facing?

>> VERA SONGWE: Thank you.  Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, everybody.  And thanks for having me at this amazing and interesting conversation.  You've heard a lot of was said.  The first focus is increased connectivity.  We've heard from everyone who has spoken to the importance of connectivity.  When we have it on the continent it's expensive.  It does not imply access because it's prohibitive.  We need to bring down the cost.

The third thing is speed.  It's connectivity, it's cost, and it's speed.  And I think you're seeing some demonstration of that.  In our continent if you want to open a Google page it takes you two and a half minutes, in the United States it takes two seconds.  It makes more expensive to develop a business if your broadband is not fast enough.  Those are the three things our governments need to focus on.

In addition to that ‑‑ and I think one of the sort of horrifying statistics is the fact that almost half of the continent, maybe a third of the continent does not have an identity.  So even when they have access, they can't really participate in a meaningful way in any activities because they don't have an ID in countries that require identity.  One of the things we're working on is to see whether we can ensure in a much faster way that Africans have access to an identity card.

Of course, we've talked about the importance of digital technology, but there is a risk.  I think we continue to mention that.  Which is the digital divide.  Those who have access will have more access and those who have less access will have less and societies will become even more unequal.  I think we've seen that particularly now in the education age in houses where you can afford it, seven people have access to the internet and everybody's on Google and it's working.  Where you cannot afford it, even one person does not have access and it does not work.  We need to ensure that we don't ‑‑ with this movement to a digital age ‑‑ exacerbate our inequalities. Seven of the most unequal countries in the world are in Africa.  A few of them are in Carlos Molina's environment.  Most of them we have the distinct pleasure to have seven of the most unequal countries.  We're hoping the digital divide does not make that worse but hopefully closes it better.

We have launched the digital center of excellence.  First of all, as I think Mr. Molina said, to ensure we have the right environment and ensure consistency and harmonization of rules and regulations across the continent and secondly work on digital privacy and ensure that with identification we don't create more disunity and chaos in our system.  I'll stop there for now and we can come back as you continue this conversation.  Thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, indeed.  Just one question perhaps to follow up.  You know, one reason that Africa has many issues is lack of investment.  Where do you think the investment comes from?

>> VERA SONGWE: Thank you.  That's a perfect follow‑up question.  One of the things we've just done, I think we did it two weeks ago, we launched a center in Congo.  And as part of that process we actually worked with some of the largest companies on the continent and to create and launch a program called the African communications and informations platform.  And essentially what we're trying to do is bring together all of the telecom companies of the continent and we're trying to do that in 36 countries, to come together and see the value in actually using the internet and technology as a means of getting closer to their service delivery clients.

I think that is where the private sector and investment comes from.  Governments need to ensure that the regulatory environment is predictable.  That it is stable and clearly that when you come in you can actually get your profits.  What the private sector needs to do is see where the benefits come from.  I think with the African agreement, Africa has launched probably one of the largest investment programs in the world today.  And therefore, the private sector needs to come in.

We have, then, I think multilateral development agencies the World‑bank, the EIB, I think that can drive down the cost of investment.  When you have that you begin to get more private sector coming in.  When you look at Kenya, it is all about the accessibility, the effortlessness in which, you know, the business environment can exist.  And I think once you have that and then you have the basic enabling infrastructure ‑‑ which is mostly public and private ‑‑ then you get the rest that follows.

We're thinking about launching 5G in ten African countries.  We now have about 20 countries calling us and saying why didn't you pick my city, tell me what to do to make sure my city becomes part of the top ten.  When we create that you can create emulation.  It is all about the regulatory environment and the cost of capital, of course.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, indeed, Vera.  Very interesting question.  Certainly sitting here with my European Bank reconstruction hat on, I believe the private sector can be brought in and the emulation effect is very important as well.  I think demonstrating it can be done in some countries as a great way of showing others that they can follow down the same route.  Thank you very much, indeed.

Finally, in this round, the chair of the MAG, how do you see this?  What can the IGF really do for this question of governance going forward?

>> ANRIETTE ESTERHUYSEN: Thanks very much, Jonathan.  I have to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed to making the virtual IGF 2020 a success.  That includes you, Jonathan. I also want to thank the future host countries, Poland, Russia, Japan and Ethiopia.

I think the IGF needs to be aware it doesn't exist in a parallel dimension.  And the inequalities that we see on the internet mirror inequalities in the world, conflict, dislocation, injustice.  The power of the internet to enable rights is immense.  It can also enable harm.  But ‑‑ ultimately if we don't ‑‑ and then the internet will remain also divided.  So we cannot solve all the internet's problems on the internet alone.

Secondly, I think we need to be bold.  We need to recognize there are real challenges and differences in approach to policy solutions.  Regulation, for example, of large internet platforms.  There are different perspectives on that.  Taxations across borders.  The differences of views in that as well.  And then I think we really need to be inclusive.  That's the third thing.  The IGF needs to be inclusive of diversity of people, of abilities, languages, and perspectives.  We also need to become more inclusive of institutions.  Other decision-making forums including governments but also regional institutes that deal with internet policy.

As the internet becomes more ubiquitous, more and more institutions that are not internet focused as their first priority are having to deal with internet related policy issues.  We need to bring them to the IGF.  We need to listen to what their needs are, integrate their voices into the IGF conversation.

Finally, the IGF needs to strengthen its own processes.  Be willing to evolve, to build its own capacity and its relationships with the U.N. system and other institutions beyond that.  But it must never, I believe, lose its uniqueness, its character as being inside the U.N. but also separate.  Being bottom up and having a community of people that are committing time and space to it, volunteering time and space to it and use it as a strength.  As a space for their conversations.  So as we grow the IGF into this part of this digital commerce to use the term the Secretary General's road map uses we need to create it into a more robust institution, you know, for want of a better word that can interact more effectively and listen to policy makers around the world.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, indeed.  It's come a long way.  You know, I think if I remember fondly in 2008 ‑‑ my memory is not as bad as I think.  And then, again, you know, I think you see the IGF really growing all the time.  And, you know, I think that's a great tribute to the multistakeholder approach.  So thank you to you for that.  You're staying with us for the next panel as well.

Let's move on to voluntary commitments.  I'd like to ask all of you in no more than a minute each to make a voluntary commitment on behalf of yourself or your institution you represent or the government you represent to furthering this whole area of work.  Perhaps I could start with you, Krzysztof, what's your voluntary commitment you'd like to make?

>> KRZYSZTOF SZUBERT: Let me start with the comment that we're fully committed to the organization of the 16th edition of the IGF between 6 and 10 December next year.  And also I would like to spend a few moments on the ideas of the IGF for the next year, so what we can expect and maybe it will be a good moment to share with you the ideas and welcome all your suggestions as well.

As Poland, we wish to deeply involve the youth community in the IGF process.  In particular to listen to their voice regarding the challenges they face, for instance, concerning education and employment but also dealing with psychological effect of the COVID‑19 pandemic which I think is very important. Moreover, building up on the current experience, we will work on the continuation of the involvement in IGF.  So our colleagues from Germany launched this project last year and we wish to continue this good practice in cooperation with other institutions and entities as well.  We wish to involve as well the 2022 IGF host and join to deliver interesting agenda for 2021 and seek continuation in Ethiopia which I think may make a lot of sense.

Based on the IGF opening panel, which I had the pleasure to co‑moderate, so I think that environmental issues in the era of transformation, digital transformation might be very interesting to continue as well, especially the environmental topic has not been the key issue at the IGF agenda so far.  So it's also a very good point I think we can make.

Last but not least, we have been bringing completely ‑‑ or new communities into the new IGF.  Like, for example, to propose the broader involvement of programmers and gamer communities into the IGF.  Just to let you know, at the time that Poland has recently ‑‑ so we can share with others.  And maybe a good area to discuss would be as well as investment and general discussion on recovering economies after COVID crisis using digital transformation and digital technologies so it might be interesting to cover as well.  So that's the perspective and the ideas from my side.  I hope to see you all in the fourth quarter 2021 physically, hopefully, in Poland, thank you.

>> MODERATOR: I look forward to being there physically.  Thank you very much, indeed, Krzysztof.  Let's move to Ahmendin Ahmed, hopefully you're still with us from Ethiopia.  Your voluntary commitment on behalf of yourself or indeed, your country.

>> AHMENDIN AHMED: Thank you, Jonathan.  As mentioned earlier, the challenges has to be addressed and solutions could be provided as three levels.  The international collaboration Ethiopia is engaging in collaboration with that.  And that would be one of the biggest steps for the IGF contribution.  Regional solutions such as reducing costs and the content delivery networks will be another contribution for the IGF.

When it comes to the country's solution, the case of Ethiopia, the government has approved digital transformation strategies, but in June 2020 which is digital Ethiopia 2025 so we're going to have IGF 2022.  And this strategy fixed most of the problems witnessed during the pandemic.  Some of this may be the addition of the telecom network, the privatization is one.  And this would be one important contribution.  The mobile phone market, to make them affordable.  The upgrading of the existing government network to increase access to the network, to standardize the data center, as well as in facilitating the implementation of the digital economy, implementing a national ID.  Ethiopia is expanding the cybersecurity potential.

I think this will be a contribution in expanding the intergovernmental and the commerce services and enabling policies and regulations such as the startup act which is going to be approved soon.  We do have a national initiative in Ethiopia and promotion of the system, and of course, a very important thing is improving the availability of electronic power in terms of power generation, distribution and coverage.  Because that is one of the challenges and I hope we'll be committed to solve this problem for IGF 2022 and our government is working to ensure this by investing in different technologies, including the hydroelectric power and solar power sources and I hope to see all in Ethiopia in 2022 for IGF.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Ahmendin Ahmed, for that.  Maxim Parshin, your voluntary commitment on behalf of yourself or your country.  Maxim Parshin, are you there?  It doesn't look as though he is at the moment.  We'll move on.

Carlos Molina, perhaps I could turn to you in Costa Rica for your voluntary commitment.

>> CARLOS MOLINA: Well, our voluntary commitment is ‑‑ Costa Rica is a small country that dreams big and acts bigger.  We protect 25% of national parks, our energy is 100% sustainable and next year we're going to celebrate 200 years of being a republic.  Our commitment is to create what we call bicentennial network, 100% access to all students, high school, primary and universal students in order to leave no one behind.  That's our most important issue.  Digital access is not something to have been done in order to accomplish all the policy that we have.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, indeed.  Vera Songwe, perhaps I could ask you for your voluntary commitment.

>> VERA SONGWE: I'll make three commitments.  I think the first one is with the African communications platform we're already able to identify locate and talk to over 700 million devices.  Not people yet.  And we're hoping that with this we can maybe help accelerate the spread of the digital identity across the continent.  That's our first commitment, is to see how using that platform already ‑‑ because we're in those houses ‑‑ ensure that we can profile better identity.

The second commitment we'd like to make is to ensure the digital divide is not gender biased.  We would like to target particularly young girls and ensure that they can become programmers, they can have access to the internet and that they can develop.  And, finally, intellectual property rights.  I think one of the amazing things about the digital age is the new commodity is ideas.  We have to make sure that we can protect Africa's ideas and we have to make sure there is a system and a regulatory environment in place that allows us to do that.

As the commission for Africa, we're working very hard to ensure the ideas, the innovation ‑‑ Africa wants to use the devices but we also want to create tools that can be used on these devices, but for us to do that we need to protect our innovations.  So creating an IPO agency on the continent that allows young Africans to protect their innovation and maybe create the next unicorns for the world is our next commitment.  Thank you.

>> MODERATOR: That would be a good thing to see, thank you very much, indeed, Vera Songwe.  Anriette, your commitment.

>> ANRIETTE ESTERHUYSEN: Thank you.  To work with the advisory group and the U.N. to build a parliamentary track that does more than just come together once a year.  Then I think secondly ‑‑ this is actually part of this ‑‑ to respond to the opportunity presented by the rules, road map for digital cooperation to strengthen the IGF as a platform for policy making, for public participation and to strengthen the IGF's relationships with other institutions including national governments.

And to evolve the existing mechanisms, the best practice forums to become more effective and have more impact.  And ultimately, to retain the IGF's bottom up and open character.  You know, in fact not just to not lose it but to make it more inclusive and diverse and a place that's safe for debate, safe for dissent and being creative and finding solutions.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, indeed, for that.  You'll join us in a minute, few minutes for the next panel as well.

We have one more voluntary commitment and that comes from Japan, Japan, of course, is the host of the IGF in 2032.  We have a video from the minister for internal affairs and communications.

[video]

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, indeed, for sending us that video.  And a big thank you to all of our panelists on panel one for the first part of our discussion this evening.  It was very kind of you to join us from all over.  And now we move on to panel two, and I will ‑‑ let me introduce the panelists, we're going to be discussing in panel two how can we better face global challenge and opportunities in the next decade.  That is the topic we're now moving on to.

Our panel are Toomas Ilves, Fabrizio Hochschild.  Vint Cerf, Goran Marby, the Internet Cooperation For Assigned Names And Numbers, ICANN, the president of that organization.  Vallarie Yiega, Mats Granryd, and Anriette Esterhuysen is still with us.

Let me start, if I may, with Fabrizio Hochschild.  How can we make sure this remains responsive to this quite fast-moving digital environment?

>> FABRIZIO HOCHSCHILD: Thank you.  I think at the starting point we have to have a common agreement on what the challenge is.  And I would argue that based on listening to many especially during these days that the root of today's changing and making the most (choppy audio) is what some have referred to as the pacing challenge.  That's the discrepancy between having a technology that is never spread and penetrated the lives of so many people in such a short time.  There's nothing that comes even close.

In barely 25 years, this has transformed lives of half the globe.  That's never happened before.  And, of course, policy makers, those responsible to international regionals for promoting the greater good through the rule of law have had a hard time keeping pace and steering these technologies. I think there's also, you know, there's an assumption that governance is somehow the enemy of freedom or innovation.  Jonathan, you'll be familiar with the lesson of Lord of the Flies.  The absence of governance more often than not is not freedom and innovation, but tyranny and domination of the most strong.  Tyranny and domination of those who profit from an absence of the rule of law. And we've seen that.  We've seen that in the scams, we've seen that in the rise in child abuse on the internet.  We've seen that in the interference in our politics. We've seen that in the rise of human rights violations and surveillance of human rights defenders.  We've seen that in many different aspects that go hand in hand with the huge benefits.

So I think the challenge for all governance mechanisms, including the IGF, is to keep up and to move forward with similar speed and impact and in concrete terms I think what that means for the IGF is to continue on the road and it has made important strides forward of becoming more inclusive.  More inclusive by region, more inclusive by stakeholder group having civil society but also better representation of business and government, especially from the Global South, and also being better linked to other government mechanisms.  Internet Governance will always be decentralized but we have to have more impact.

Definitely bottom up as Ahmed emphasized, but bottom up cannot be end in itself.  Legitimacy for impact, for that next to being bottom up we need much stronger leadership as the Secretary General emphasizes.  I think we need more stable funding and a stronger capacity.  I think we also need to progressively transform this from a one-off important event to a process that happens throughout the year and can also have a say on developments as they unfold.  The internet moves by the second.  We cannot move in a once a year format.

Those would be my suggestions and I know much excellent work is being done in this direction and my pledge is to continue to support that work.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, indeed.  A very good point about the pace of change compared to the pace of an annual meeting.  That's the first time I've heard of the Lord of the Flies, but I like the analogy very much, thank you.  I wish you well with your next appointment.  Thank you for joining us on this event.

I'd like to go to Toomas Ilves next.  I wonder how you feel ‑‑ what you feel really the U.N. and the IGF need to do to take all this forward?

>> TOOMAS HENDRIK ILVES: Well, thank you very much.  First of all, I am glad the U.N. has actually convened the IGF, but I agree that it should be much more of an ongoing process.  Certainly, there have been a lot of new and intriguing ideas.  But I'd like to focus on how it can cooperate more ‑‑ am I not unmuted?  I thought I was.

>> MODERATOR: We're hearing you well.

>> TOOMAS HENDRIK ILVES: I got a little pop up here.

The challenge that we have to really face is how do expand the possibilities of the internet to the rest of the world.  And I don't know if we understand how crucial it is.  We get bogged down in a lot of crucial questions.  But we need to know that now these days ‑‑ yes, there's the development in the 19th and 20th Century was a function of physical infrastructure from highways to telephone connectivity.  In the digital era we have entered sometimes even unwittingly, we need to move from mere physical infrastructure to the software development.  I mean that quite literally.

Of course we need broadband coverage, but far, far more important than that, as well as our discussions on synergies, multistakeholder process and sustainable solutions for a broad mix of interrelated issues, all in quotes, we require the developing world to be quickly able to adopt secure software infrastructure, including digital identities to employ effective open source architecture and to guarantee data integrity, including privacy.

All of this is technically possible today.  Indeed, it's existed for two decades.  If we do this, we'll move from talking about guaranteeing human rights online to actually implementing them.  Especially in privacy and data integrity, which lie at the heart of human rights and the age of the internet.  These are not just words.  These solutions exist.  They're not overwhelmingly expensive.  Indeed, we are still able to take advantage today of Moore's Law which says the cost of computing halves every year and a half.  It's half the cost in a year and a half.  It would be 13 times cheaper to build the ‑‑ my country's complete digitization of governance today than it was when we did it as a not very rich country 20 years ago.  And in doing so, guarantee freedom and human rights online.

There are only three things you cannot do online.  You cannot get married, you cannot get divorced and you can't sell or exchange real estate or property.  I mean, all of this ‑‑ if we're to safely implement responses to COVID‑19 where privacy and integrity become key issues.  So that touches upon contact tracing, supply chain integrity of PPE, of respirators and so on.  And also one hopes, almost importantly ‑‑ I mean, most importantly the safety of any vaccination and the supply chain for vaccinations.  We have to know all of these things to avoid the kind of disasters we have seen in the past.

So I mean, there are solutions.  What can we do?  In my country we actually offer these solutions for free.  I mean, we just give away the software.  And it's been taken up by some 30 countries around the world.  I mean, you have to do a lot yourself, obviously, but these things are not that expensive and you can make huge moves in these areas if we actually decide to do them, have the political will to create national identities, digital identities secure using two factor authentication and then encryption to have a secure architecture.  There are many models of that.  And to employ them most modern technologies of distributed ledgers, also known as block chain to guarantee the integrity of data.

So I would say that on the tech side, we don't have that many blocks, sort of huge steps to take.  We can do these things today and I think that the U.N. really is the place to do that.  I should also say that the U.N. is the one place we really need to work on avoiding the fragmentation of the internet.  Allowing the internet to split based on different countries' understanding of access to information will re‑create the divisions in the world that we laid to rest with the end of the Cold War.  And time since then access to information and global connectivity has transformed billions of lives.  None of this would have been achieved without a globally interoperable internet connecting all of us.

We need to preserve that and that's something that really should be a strong role for the U.N., especially now during the worldwide health crisis where we've seen the global connectivity has helped us stay connected during the pandemic and certainly decreased the damage in all our countries to the economy thanks to self‑isolation and quarantining.

Basically, I'll say that we're at an important juncture right now.  Where we need to be guided by our core values.  When advancing internet government issues, we must find ways to protect human rights, democracy and the rule of law in the digital age.  It will be equally important to improve the trust and confidence in the internet, much of which you can do through technological means that guarantee trust and confidence.

So I'd say the bottom line is the internet must serve the citizen first and only then governments and corporations while the values of the universal declaration of human rights remain just as important today as they did in 1945.  And I'm confident the new IGF will be able to find a global consensus of creating a free, open and decentralized internet, thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, indeed, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, very interesting thoughts there from a country that's certainly come a long way when it comes to global connectivity.

One of the youngest countries, so maybe we should go from that to our youngest panelists, Vallarie Yiega, you're here representing youth.  I wonder what your vision is for the internet moving forward?  What's it looking like in five years' time, say 2025?

>> VALLARIE YIEGA: Thank you so much, Jonathan and thank you to all the panelists and the attendees joining us on this platform and from other platforms as well.

I think it's important for me to state that the youth are not a homogenous group.  They're different in terms of the aspects of the regions they come from, the needs they have.  With that said, looking at the future for young people in five years' time, some of the objectives that young people have coming into the internet include things like business, human rights, climate action, education, jobs, and access to information, especially in the wake of the pandemic where we've had so many people having transitioned to the digital platforms.

Just like the previous speaker said, the issue of access affects young people differently because the access for a young person in Africa would be different for someone in more developed countries.  As we look into the youth moving into the future, we have to look at young people in terms of what they can contribute. ‑‑ (choppy audio) it was spoken about how they're trying to do the block on digital identities and teach young women in the African continent, it's my pleasure to say we have ‑‑ and as young people would like to see a future is having institutions like the U.N. and other corporations, private companies, also governments to make meaningful contributions.

We'd also like to bring into light some of the youth initiatives, especially in this virtual IGF.  We've seen the youth coalition.  Proposals, to mentor ‑‑ (choppy audio) to be able to just bring more youth on when it comes to Internet Governance.  We have seen what young people are doing in their regional and local areas just to be able to make sure that they are more involved and aware and can meaningfully contribute.

I liked what the minister from Poland said when he said they were going to work more with young people in the next IGF because that is what as young people are looking forward to, to be part of the organization, be part of the proposals, be part of the panels where it is not only youth ‑‑ or young people sitting on those panels, but they're sitting together with decision makers who can actually make impacts.

With that said, we've heard a lot about how young people are now thinking globally.  I would like to mention the working groups that have been developed by the German Information Society.  And it actually brings together young people globally to discuss on pertinent topics such as fair use businesses, the intersection of tech and environment and it's very important for us as stakeholders for us to be able to see what the young people are doing so they can be incorporated in the right spaces.

Now we're seeing young people bringing into context the problems that is seen on the internet.  Issues such as encryption, issues such as human rights violation.  I like what was said earlier about making the internet governance a safe space where people can come.  Human rights defenders can come and sit on the panels with the governments and discuss the human rights.  We've seen what's happening in Nigeria and how the young people were able to organize in a community setup using the internet and being able to create that awareness and what can be done.  We're seeing issues of that, and we're seeing young people organize themselves in the same thing.

Also, I'd like to talk about youth mentorship.  More than ever now we're seeing young people in terms of getting into the Internet Governance space.  It used to be a struggle of can we get into this panel.  Young people are bringing young people into the space and allowing them to have an opportunity to learn.  And with that said, of course, we'd like to appreciate some of the internet mentors who are young people who are working for us.  Young people who have been in this space and are creating more space for young people to come online.

I'd also like to ‑‑ as I close up ‑‑ some of the national governance, which has played a key role in bringing more and more young people in terms of just educating them on what Internet Governance is.  Of course, I would like to share the experience of what is being done in Kenya and how they're using that space to meaningfully contribute.  Going forward, we are going to see more young people in these spaces.  We're going to have more young people to have a position when it comes to the Internet Governance forum, thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Very good to hear.  Let me turn to Vint Cerf from Google.  There are so many priorities, Vint, so many things to do.  What do you think should be the number one way forward if we're to make progress in this area?

>> VINT CERF: Let me thank you so much, Jonathan.  Let me start out first by simply congratulating the IGF team on the technical access of this event.  Not only the webpages were amazingly so helpful from my point of view and organizing everything and, of course, this online conference has also been striking, including the interpretation capability which I really appreciate.

Let me come to a sort of primary expression to answer your question.  I think that making the internet safe while preserving the openness that has produced this cornucopia of applications is our primary challenge.  How do we make it safe?  Of course, there may be varying definitions of what people consider safe.  But I think if I were an engineer, I would be asking questions like that.  If I were a policy maker, I would be asking myself the same kinds of questions.

Second, fragmentation which has come up frequently in today's and earlier conversations is a real threat.  And it will destroy the benefits of the internet, which are largely derived from the free flow of information across international boundaries.  So we need to do everything we can to avoid the harmful effects of fragmentation.

The third thing is that multistakeholder dialogue I think is still vital for the production of good quality policy.  And that includes things like asking the man in the street or the woman in the street as the mission publique has managed to do asking citizens what they think of the internet.  I have to say the Secretary General Guterres' comments were comprehensive and I think he expressed them extraordinarily well.

It's an attractive term but I worry it could be misunderstood and misinterpreted to faster fragmentation.  I agree that we need to seek local solutions to local problems, but not at the expense of destroying the interoperability of the computers and the networks that make the internet useful.

Last point I would make is that our task now, as many have already emphasized, is to achieve broad sustainable, useful, safe, affordable and inclusive access to the internet while protecting human rights and keeping the internet open.  Thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Vint thank you very much indeed.  One quick follow up, Vint.  I saw you looking intently when we heard earlier from Africa this whole question of two and a half minutes to open a Google page in Africa, two seconds in the United States.  How do you resolve a problem like that?

>> VINT CERF: Well, actually, we're trying to do something technically to deal with that.  One of them is called AMP which makes the ads load more quickly and coding schemes and other things.  But the real answer to that problem is more bandwidth.  We've made some contributions there in Uganda.  I think we've done something similar in Ghana.  We tried to demonstrate that wholesale tactics which allow for a resale of capacity is a tactic.  Certainly, one could also argue that improved wireless access to the internet, whether it's 4G or 5G or wi‑fi also contributes to solving that problem. But the real answer is investment in capacity and driving costs out, which is a very important point made earlier to make these things affordable for everyone.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, indeed, for that.  Let's move on to Goran Marby from ICANN.  Really, same sort of question that I put to Vint, which is so many priorities, you know, what's your priority?

>> GORAN MARBY: Thank you very much.  Representing the technical community, because a lot of the things I would say is repetition of what was talked about.  I think a lot of the comments here, I would like to take a step back.  The first thing, how do you be more effective, you have to define the problem.  I think IGF has talked about it.  One of the problems is the amount of connectivity in the world, and especially in place where's it doesn't have it today.  And Vint has made a good case for that, of course.

One thing that's important to remember is that how do you define the internet at the top?  The way I define it away from the technical community is when the internet doesn't exist as an entity.  What we contribute to is the sort of language that makes it possible for people on all those devices, all those different platforms to communicate with each other.  That's the internet for me.  That's the intermobility to it.

And a lot of the questions that arise when you talk about fake medias and all those things that's happening is happening inside the internet itself, it happens inside the social media platform.  I use them all, I mean, I'm not taking ‑‑ saying it's negative.  When you leave ‑‑ when you walk into a media platform you actually do leave the internet itself.  You're inside someone else's computer.  And I think that we sometimes miss that small but fairly important factor into this.

There are things to be happening inside a closed environment, I think the governments know around the world are reacting to that.  But that's very different from this view to go on what your particular network, what your ISP, your wi‑fi or mobile, whatever you're using and you can connect to me here.

That leads to something quite interesting as well.  We often talk about it as this fantastically global thing.  It is fantastic and it is global but it's also very local.  And one of the things I see when we look is that when you're actually using the internet ‑‑ when my daughter wants to communicate with me, she is very local, she's in the next room, she communicates on a social media platform.  It's very difficult, the traffic is very, very local.  And what we're seeing now to be able to really make people the opportunity to go online is that we actually turn this global device into something local.  Internet has to be the ability to be local and global at the same time.

So that's why ICANN is working on IDMs which another way of saying people should be able to use a keyboard ‑‑ they understand what is on it.  The symbols on that should be something they actually understand.  They don't need to be forced to read from left to right with dots in the middle because many scripts doesn't even have a dot.  Because I think people are smart.  We often talk about ‑‑ coming back to the investment part.  You know, I worked in the industry as well and I also worked as a telecom regulator.  It's much more easier to have the investments if someone wants to buy it.  There needs to be a demand for what you do. I think people in many regions around the world, to be able to see ‑‑ wants to have the localized internet, free platforms, but they should be able to do that.  What we're doing right now is working in different forums.  We think that people to be able to take the next step needs to be ‑‑ internet needs to be localized.

So but then again, it's one common language for all those networks.  We have to make sure that we don't create alternatives to what we call the internet.  Because you want to do something very, very local.  Because then you actually do fragmentize the internet and takes away the whole idea behind the internet which is about connecting people.

And I think this conversation ‑‑ I mean, I followed the discussions on IGF and I agree this has been a success not only from a technical perspective but from the perspective of people coming together.  More and more, those discussions is becoming more in depth.  What are the real problems?  What are we talking about?  How do you create this connectivity?  How do you make it global and local at the same time?  So I see new discussions and away from the technical part of this, we have a simple task, we provide a service to the world, but actually makes it possible for you to connect.  That's everything we do.  And I think that that recognition has been coming up during this conversation.  Because then we can actually start talking about the problems.  It's not the internet.  It's often everywhere else that the problems might exist. Then I think it's an important discussion to continue, too, thank you very much.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, indeed.  Let me turn now to Mats, what's the one thing that needs to be done to foster cooperation between countries?  Particularly some of the more economically challenged countries, perhaps?

>> MATS GRANRYD: Great pleasure to be here with you.  And as a fellow Swede I feel sorry for you and your daughter.  You might want to talk together on the couch instead of sending text messages, but that's up to you.

We are committed to the preservation of the collaboration model for Internet Governance and decision making.  Today the mobile industry, we connect roughly two thirds of everyone on this planet.  And we contribute some $4.1 trillion to the global GDP.  This brings responsibility, especially this year when mobile connectivity has been so vital to all of us to continue to do business and live our normal lives.

But the area of the digital cooperation that really needs our attention is the persistent digital divide.  We know that today roughly 50% of the world's population is connected to the internet and 50% is not.  And the 50% that is connected is connected through a mobile device or through a mobile internet as has been described before.

Roughly four billion people are still not connected to the internet.  And I think we think this is more important and maybe the biggest challenge that we're facing ever.  The four billion people that is not connected is the sum of two things.  Number one is the coverage gap which means that people who live outside of areas of mobile broadband networks, 3G, 4G or 5G to some extent.  This coverage gap is roughly 700 million people.  The second area is the usage gap where people live in areas covered by mobile broadband, but they decide or choose not to use it.

So the mobile industry, we have made strong progress against the coverage gap by investing some $320 billion which has brought 1 billion more people online.  That's good.  It's not good enough.  Today I call for a greater attention, an action to reduce the big gap, the usage gap by eliminating the barriers that we know exist and accelerating the mobile broadband use so we can bring people online and finally close this digital divide.

The usage gap is currently roughly 3.4 billion people.  The main barriers as has been discussed, affordability, lack of skills, I think honestly that's a small one.  Safety and privacy concerns, and maybe most importantly lack of local relevant content.  There's nothing there for me to use.  If the current trend continues, over 40% of people in low and middle income countries will remain offline by 2020.  For these people, there is only one way, mobile of getting online and receiving life‑changing students.

The mobile industry will invest in $1.1 trillion in networks from now to 2025 to build out capacity and installing new 5G equipment as Vint talked about earlier.  I urge our partners, public and private, to invest at the same level to bridge the big gap, namely the usage gap.  There has never been a more crucial time to bring people online and advance the STGs to full completion by 2030. 2020 has reinforced the connection between technological advancements and human progress.  Thank you for that.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, indeed, Mats for that.  Finally, in this round, Anriette Esterhuysen, what do you think the IGF can do the further this cooperation now?

>> ANRIETTE ESTERHUYSEN: Thank you.  It's challenging to add to all the relevant points that have been made.  I think I'll start by saying the IGF should not underestimate the complexity of the problems and the complexity or the difficulty in finding consensus.  I think that is important.  I think the IGF is designed to deal with complexity, but I think we don't always agree even if we understand what the problems are.  For example, there are different views on how to protect the public good character of the internet and how to strengthen it.

I've touched on this before, and I think Fabrizio did as well.  There are different views on the internet as a tool for democracy and human rights.  There are states that feel that the internet creates a platform for challenging regimes and they are not comfortable with that.  And then there are masses of citizens who use social media to criticize government and they feel empowered by that.  And actually, often these different stances do come into conflict.

When it comes to access, also, it's not so simple.  We actually know what the solutions are.  We know that we need dynamic spectrum regulation.  We know that mobile penetration, as Mats has just said, is leveling off.  We also know that community networks is a viable solution, small businesses.  We know that we need public access and public sector investment in skills and content and yet these things are still not happening.  Community networks are viable but they often like the licenses and enabling financial investment frameworks. I'm not being cynical here at all, actually, I'll just saying that finding these solutions involve as President Ilves said earlier they involve political will and I don't think it's always that easy to find that.

To come back to the role of the IGF, in particular the IGF plus, we do need to strengthen cooperation at a global level within the digital internet community, but also beyond.  But I believe very firmly that we also really need to strengthen cooperation at the regional level, the national level and the local level.  I'm not sure if Fabrizio is with us but I don't think bottom up is about legitimacy, it's about getting things done.  That's where the changes are made.  When the networks are built, where the internet change points are put into place, where the skills are developed.  They're developed on the ground at the local level.

That nuts and bolts element of the internet, yes, it can be encouraged from a global level, but it has to happen at a local, national and regional level.  I think the IGF and its national and regional initiatives can play a role to support that.  Let's build on that and less continue to do that.  Let's not simplify it but let's be up for and inspired and brave.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, yes.  The local level challenge is clearly very, very important.

Now it's time to have voluntary commitments from this panel.  I'd like you to think about what commitments you'd like to make either on behalf of yourself or your organizations.  Toomas Ilves, a voluntary commitment you'd like to make very briefly.  You're muted.

>> TOOMAS HENDRIK ILVES: I have to do it twice here apparently.  Anyway, the E Governance Academy of Estonia, which I'm on the board, has for some 20 years already been teaching people from all over the world, mainly government officials, on the basics of digitization and we have also sent people wherever needed when requested, the government's funding of it is probably enough to maintain people coming to us if they get there by themselves.

With funding from the European Union and other international organizations, we also send people to assist in long‑term digitization projects around the world.  The goal being learning the basic skills ‑‑ I have to say this is not really basic in terms of how does the internet work.  It's what are the essentials of a security digital identity, what you need to do on what kind of architecture you need to set up and once you do that moving on to data integrity issues.

But we do that and it's the solution we use in my country is open source, nonproprietary software.  That's all kind of free.  But what it does require is that countries themselves commit to build these things out once we show how to do it.  As I said we've done it in about 30 countries and the E Governance Academy is happy to assist countries that are genuinely interested in digitizing public and private and government services for the citizens.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, indeed, Former President of Estonia.  Let me move on to our youngest panelists, Vallarie Yiega, I hope you're still there.  Perhaps you'd like to tell us what you would like to commit to.

>> VALLARIE YIEGA: Thank you, Jonathan.  What I would like to commit to and also what ‑‑ on behalf of the youth we'd like to commit to as well.  There is more bold representation of young people in the IGF processes, decision making in terms of organization of the IGF and also in sessions that actually are meaningful and have impact. Also, you're going to see a lot more local actions from young people, collaborating with their own regional and local initiatives.  Definitely going to see more in this space, thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, indeed.  Vint Cerf, I hope you're still with us.  A voluntary commitment you'd like to make.

>> VINT CERF: Let me speak to two of them.  I promise I'll spend less time admiring the problem and a lot more time solving them.  And I think it's very important we share with each other things that work and things that have not worked and explain why, what were the local conditions that made a difference.  That's my primary commitment. But I want to suggest another thing which Vallarie's comment inspires in me.  We should get more people involved in the problem solves because they're too young to know you can't do that.

>> MODERATOR: I like both of those very much.  Thank you very much, indeed, Vint.  Goran Marby.

>> GORAN MARBY: We will continue our commitment to the IGF.  We think it's a very important platform for discussion and an important place for people to come together.  The other thing is our other commission is we're increasing our efforts to work together with software houses, equipment providers and others who are essential to bring a more centralized internet to local people because technical things has to read technical things in the right way.  And that is a commitment we'll be making. We will talk about how this will work to make anyone to be able to access internet using their own language and their own scripts, thank you very much.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, indeed.  And I move to your fellow Swede, Mats, perhaps you would like to make your voluntary commitment.

>> MATS GRANRYD: Thank you.  I'm in the Vint arena of listening to youths, young people and learn from them.  Because they are not only the future as we know, but they haven't done the same mistakes we have.  We should listen to them and make sure our fellow business leaders listen to them.  The industry will continue to improve technology and bandwidth go forward but listen to the youth I think is important.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Mats, it's a good one.  Finally, Anriette, you've already made a voluntary commitment but if you have another one, we'd like to hear it.

>> ANRIETTE ESTERHUYSEN: Just to promise the IGF is intergenerational.  I agree with Vint.  Yes, it's good to get young people because they have the courage and they're willing to go before those who know it might not work.  The intergenerational character of the IGF is as important. I think Jonathan, to work with those that sport the IGF and many of them are in ‑‑ this virtual ‑‑

>> MODERATOR: You're freezing.

>> ANRIETTE ESTERHUYSEN: Just to bring in more people from outside the existing IGF bubble so we have more creative and more collaboration.  That's it.  And not lose the IGF community as we also strengthen our top down leadership level character.  I've said it all.

>> MODERATOR: We definitely got that message in the end, thank you for persevering.  And thank you to our panel on this particular section of our closing event.  Some interesting thoughts from all of you, thank you all for taking part.

We have two other, two further voluntary commitments on video, the first is the president of the Swiss confederation.  [speaking non‑English language]

>> MODERATOR: Thank you, very much, indeed.  And we do have another also voluntary commitment, we're going to hear from Brad Smith, president of Microsoft.

>> BRAD SMITH: I think this is a time that calls in the world to take urgent action and it's a time that calls on those of us who work across the tech sector to step up and to do more.  I think in part we need to use technology to make the world more accessible to everyone on the planet.  That's why we at Microsoft have offered a concrete commitment in our Airband program to use new technology to reduce the cost and expand the reach of the internet through broadband.

This is also a time that calls on us I think not just to think about giving people access to the internet, but providing them with the skills they'll need to make that access more effective, more important and productive for their own lives.  Around the world, the jobs of the future involve more digital skills than in the past.  That's why this year, we at Microsoft stepped forward with a commitment that we will reach 25 million people before this year ends to provide the kinds of services that will connect people, not just with skills, but with their next job.

And, finally, we need to recognize that one of the most important issues of this decade and, indeed, every decade to come, is the needs of our planet, to address climate change and sustainability more broadly.  That's why at Microsoft we've committed ourselves to be carbon negative by the end of this decade.  That's why we've committed by 2050 we'll remove from the environment all of the carbon that Microsoft has emitted since it was founded in 1975.  And it means that we are also committed to building a technology resource that will serve every part of the world.  That we'll provide the kinds of tools all of our customers will need to measure and monitor and ultimately reduce their own carbon emissions.

It's why we're committed to building a global data set that every community and country and government can access to measure and monitor and manage their own biodiversity.  More than ever, these are the challenges of our time.  And more than ever, they require the work, the collaboration that comes from IGF.  That's why we as a company are not just supportive of the Secretary General's call to make IGF even more important, it's why we are so committed ourselves to being an active participant in playing a critical part.  Thank you very much.

>> MODERATOR: Brad Smith, thank you very much, the president of Microsoft corporation.  Let's look ahead to next year's IGF in the remaining minutes we have.  I'd like to call on the Secretary of State of the Chancellery of Poland.

>> MAREK ZAGORSKI: Thank you very much, participants of the 15th IGF.  If the famous novelist came back to being today, he would not be surprised to see us talking in front of our computers.  I mention him because next year we'll celebrate the 100th advisory of his birthday.  He has become an inspiration, not only for many enthusiasts.  Let's just say this, he inspired the creator of many games, for example.

In the current situation, Internet Governance is the key to ensuring development, human rights and security.  Thanks to the internet the future has come as a present.  We were supposed to meet earlier this year, but due to the COVID‑19 pandemic circumstances, unfortunately, we could not.  However, this difficult time has brought us new experiences and it was different it was not worse at the time who he was writing his novels, the host city -- for the host city 2021 was one of the most important locations for coal mining.  Since that time, it has gone a long way to becoming a vibrant modern city.  It is also now known of being a hub for the gaming industry and game enthusiasts.

This is a feature we'd like to build while organizing next year's IGF between 6 and 10 December.  I truly believe it will take place on site in December next year.  We want you to have the opportunity to experience traditional Polish hospitality and learn about the tourist attractions of this region.  Our motto will still be eternally united.  And IGF 2021 will be a platform of discussion of open, free and divided internet where users can enjoy the rights.  That's the big idea and we want to bring new communities to this.

IGF, please be with us next year.  Your voice is crucial in this important debate and we want to hear it.  Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends and colleagues, I would like to give thanks to the united nation and IGF secretariat for the commitment and efforts in preparing the 2020 online edition.  Congratulations on the wonderful organization and the incredibly successful meetings.  I'm very much looking forward to continuing our open dialogue on every level.  In this difficult time the IGF is a perfect place to conduct such a discussion and work solutions.  The multistakeholder and inclusive spirit of the IGF forum is now our most valuable asset.

Myself and my colleague, Mr. Szubert and the whole time of IGF 2021 is at your disposal and suggestions you might have regarding the next year's IGF.  See you all there.  Thank you very much.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much I hope we'll be there physically as a sign of solidarity at this difficult time.

Thank you very much, indeed.  Now, let's hear some closing remarks on this IGF.  I call on the Undersecretary General for economic and social affairs.  He made a speech at the opening session, and now he delivers some closing remarks for us.

>> LIU ZHENMIN: Thank you, nice to see you again.  We met last week.  Participants, colleagues and friends from around the world, I'm honored to join you with over 6,000 people from 173 countries gathering online at this year's Internet Governance forum.  Over the past days through the online meeting, I'm very glad to see so many friends both old and new.  But it is also a stark reminder the world continues to witness the devastating impacts of the COVID‑19 pandemic.

Societies are reeling from shutdowns, stay at home orders, and widespread and mounting infection.  As a result, we are moving towards an increasing early virtual world.  You heard from the Secretary General Guterres, the COVID‑19 pandemic had a strong spotlight on the importance of digital technologies and transformation.  And an urgent need to enhance the role of the IGF as a platform for dialogue and proposed solutions.

The lively discussions captured the overarching theme of this year's IGF, the Internet Governance in an age of uncertainty.  My own takeaways of this year's IGF are, number one, that we can no longer separate development tracks of digitization and sustainability development.  And number two, more than ever, we need cooperation.  These are critical for governance issues, the environment, inclusion, and trust of cross borders, sectors, disciplines and generations.

We need to extend the multistakeholder approach and we need to continue integrating solutions and the capacity built into the IGF.  Participants, as we close the 15th IGF, we also crossed the halfway mark of this ten‑year mandate renewed by the U.N. General Assembly in 2015.  Guided by the Secretary General's road map I'll share the following reflection and how we collectively can advance the IGF.

First, having a more focused agenda.  A strategy to have a selected theme and well‑defined issues should continue.  It is our focus on what matters most on streamlined discussions and outputs of the IGF.  We started last year implementing that and we're going to continue in the coming years.  There should also be continuity between annual sessions.  We see, for example, the spotlight on data this year during the discussions last year in Berlin.

Second, integrating high level leaders, I'm encouraged by the change and concrete policy recommendations that we heard at this year's high‑level leaders track.  The focus on the role of internet and the digital technologies in responding to COVID‑19 and uncertainties and how we can recover better. I am encouraged by the active participation of parliamentaries from around the world and by corporations between parliaments and the Dynamic Coalitions that were forged at this year's parliamentary round table.

We also made renewed efforts to report the outcomes of the IGF to the U.N. intergovernmental processes.  I would be remiss if I do not highlight the essential role of IIAHs, the bottom up inclusive nature of IGF.  Even though the network of IRIs is expanding, national governments, legislators and businesses can benefit from improved representation of the IRIs.

I strongly encourage the global community to invest, contribute, and strengthen the role of the IRIs.  The U.N. family including the U.N. department of economic social affairs, is committed to working with all partners to provide more capacity development and instructing it, we have collective work on the part of the global IGF ecosystem.

Integrating programs, intercessional work of the IGF, the relevance of the IGF's best practice forums and the Dynamic Coalitions have been clearly proven.  But we need to do more.  Establishing linkages between sessions with other intergovernmental and international bodies.

The long‑term stability of the IGF, the IGF and the Secretariat function well.  During the pandemic our donors continued to support us.  I wish to extend a big thanks to all donors.  I also think the Polish government for their financial contribution to support this year's virtual IGF.  Sixth, enhancing the visibility and identity of the IGF, I extend a special thanks ‑‑ they support IGF revamping its portal and underlying technology so that the IGF can better serve as a platform to the global community.

The IGF will also benefit from effective communications strategy guiding its work, starting 2021.  Under the personal leadership and the guidance of the U.N. Secretary General, let's work together to advance the implementation.  Participants, ladies and gentlemen, COVID‑19 has caused loss of life, brought untold hardship and uncertainties to people around the world.  At the same time, it has shown spotlight of the new normal which is more digital than ever. Not only is this the first ever virtual Internet Governance forum, allow me to mention other firsts.  (choppy audio) high level and main sessions are streamed for the first time, receiving high visibility.  Number three, not only are we ‑‑ we also have the honor of having the president of the U.N. General Assembly.  IGF 2020 will be remembered as a year of focus and use.  I believe the commitment to engaging in use will continue in 2021.

I would like to acknowledge the efforts of the Multistakeholder Environmental Group, MAC and its chair, Ms. Anriette Esterhuysen, by adjusting to the challenges posed by the COVID‑19 pandemic.  They worked tirelessly in the past few months to bring you this virtual IGF.  At the beginning of the year we met with Anriette, but after a few months, immediately we shifted to a virtual session.  I thank you to all members and to many others who contributed to this year's program of IGF.  I also thank our future hosts, Poland in 2021, Ethiopia in 2022, Japan in 2023 and the Russian federation in 2025.

And I invite other member states to consider hosting the 2024 IGF.  Dear colleagues we're in a deep commitment of these host companies, we expect increased participation of developing countries.  We stand ready to support stakeholders to carry forward the IGF's mandate.  Colleagues and friends, we're at a critical moment.  The world faces challenges of a historic nature.  I'm deeply encouraged by the success of this virtual agenda, yet it is our physical world that helps to define our humanity. I look forward to our physical gathering in December 2021.  I thank you all of you for support of this year's IGF.  I conclude my remarks by thanking Jonathan for your moderating many of the sessions over the past week.  I thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, indeed, Undersecretary General.  It's also a pleasure.  I've always enjoined my engagement with the IGF.  I'll very glad to see you all and thank you again for coming to us, to speak to us on this closing session.  And that is it.  We have been here in our homes in lockdown or some of us in offices but all virtually.  It's the end of this remarkable IGF as the Undersecretary General was saying.  It's now closed but I would be remiss if I didn't leave you first of all without thanking you and secondarily I'll leave you with a video so we can all look ahead to Poland in 2021.  Good bye.

>> We all live in a digital world.  We all need it to be open and safe.  We all want to trust.

>> And to be trusted.

>> We all despise control.

>> And desire freedom.

>> We are all united.

>> You're muted.

>> As usual, sorry.

>> Thank you very much, everybody, I think that's a wrap.  We are going to have an open mic and feedback session on the 25th of November.  1400 UTC.  I would invite you all to please come there and because your feedback is very important so we can improve our things for next year.

And with that, thank you to all the scribes, interpreters, and also the virtual ‑‑ volunteers for their rooms.  Thank you very much, you all did a great job and have a good evening or a good day.  Thank you.

>> I really want to thank the Secretariat again and to tell everyone that the secretariat has IGF outputs out on the website.  If you go to the IGF homepage, you'll find the link and you'll find initial messages and recommendations and outcomes.  Really, congratulations to the Secretariat. 

 

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