United Nations Initiatives, Governance Forum Can Advance Collective Efforts, ‘Build the Internet We Want to Empower All People’, Secretary-General Says

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the Internet Governance Forum, in Kyoto today:

I am pleased to greet the Internet Governance Forum as you gather in Kyoto.  Let me begin by thanking you for your invaluable efforts — bringing together Governments, the private sector, civil society, and the technical community for the essential task of advancing an open, safe and global Internet.

For nearly two decades, this multistakeholder cooperation has proven remarkably productive and remarkably resilient in the face of growing geopolitical tensions, proliferating crises and widening divisions.

Your work is more important than ever.  We need to keep harnessing digital technologies enabled by the Internet to help deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals, take climate action and build a better world.

I see three areas for action.  First, we must work together to close the connectivity gap and bring the remaining 2.6 billion people online — in particular women and girls in least developed countries.

Second, we must work together to close the governance gap, including by elevating and better aligning the work of the IGF and other digital bodies across the UN system and beyond.

Third and fundamentally, we need to re-enforce a human rights and human-centred approach to digital cooperation.

It is imperative that the Internet, including the physical infrastructure that underpins it, remains open, secure and accessible to all. This means that the Internet’s long-established multistakeholder institutions need more support, not less.

The Leadership Panel I have established for the Internet Governance Forum is aimed at providing strategic guidance, supporting stable funding and amplifying the impact of your important work.

To help advance the search for concrete governance solutions, I am appointing a High-Level Advisory Body on Artificial Intelligence, which will provide preliminary recommendations by the end of this year.

And the Global Digital Compact — proposed for adoption at the Summit of the Future in 2024 — aims to set out principles, objectives and actions to secure a human-centred digital future.

Governments, the private sector and civil society must come together regularly to ensure that the commitments enshrined in the Compact are followed up.  We cannot afford another retreat into silos.  We must work to prevent gaps from emerging on new digital technologies, avoid duplication and address emerging risks effectively.

I look to your gathering in Kyoto to provide critical input to advance our collective efforts.  Together, we can realize the ambition spelled out in the theme of your Forum and build the Internet we want to empower all people.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.