The opening remarks at the Internet Governance Forum 2023 (IGF 2023) in Kyoto highlighted the critical global digital challenges and the need for collaborative solutions. Key themes addressed by the stakeholders include:
- Risks to Digital Transformation: The Minister of Communications and Information Technology of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah Alswaha, underscored the risks the current digital landscape poses to global objectives like net-zero targets, job growth, and international trade. Trade restrictions and fragmentation could have significant economic and employment consequences, emphasizing the need for innovative and inclusive internet governance.
- Challenges in the Digital Age: Japanese Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications, Junji Suzuki, acknowledged the vital role of the internet in modern life but also pointed out challenges such as the spread of illegal content, cybercrimes, and the importance of ensuring equal internet access for all.
- Internet as a Productive and Secure Environment: Vinton Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google, emphasized the importance of making the internet a productive and secure space. He stressed the need to combat misinformation, promote helpful content, and establish accountability and agency. Cerf also mentioned the upcoming Digital Governance compact work as an anticipated initiative.
- Commitment to Internet Governance: Norwegian Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Sigbjørn Gjelsvik, highlighted Norway’s dedication to fostering an open and inclusive internet environment, promoting responsible technological innovation, and addressing the environmental impacts of digital infrastructure. Norway also expressed its bid to host the IGF in 2025.
- Involving the Judiciary: Eliamani Laltaika, a Judge of the High Court of Tanzania, advocated for the involvement of the judiciary in internet governance discussions. He proposed the creation of a judiciary track within the IGF Secretariat to enhance understanding of digital governance among judges.
- Internet’s Role in Disaster Recovery: Jun Murai, a Japanese professor, emphasized Japan’s role in hosting significant internet-related events in 2023 and highlighted the internet’s importance in disaster recovery, drawing on the 1995 earthquake in Japan.
- Responsible Use of Digital Technology: Bjorn Berge, Council of Europe’s Deputy Secretary-General, stressed the transformative impact of the internet on modern life and the importance of responsible digital technology use. He mentioned the Council of Europe’s initiatives in addressing cybercrime and developing an international AI treaty.
- Internet Governance and Human Rights: Vice-President for Values and Transparency of the European Commission, Věra Jourová, discussed various aspects of internet governance, including public models of governance and the importance of ethical and responsible internet use. She highlighted the EU’s efforts in AI regulation, disinformation mitigation, and upholding human rights in digital governance.
- Digital Inclusion and Multistakeholder Approach: Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Doreen Bogdan-Martin, emphasized the role of digital technology in addressing global challenges and the need for digital inclusion, particularly in underserved communities. She highlighted the importance of a multistakeholder approach in internet governance.
- Fundamental Principles in Internet Governance: Tripti Sinha, Assistant Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at the University of Maryland, emphasized several key principles, including internet access as a fundamental human right, open standards and interoperability, digital inclusion, multistakeholder models, and the role of organizations like ICANN.
These opening remarks collectively underscored the significance of the internet, the importance of collaboration and inclusivity, and the responsible use of technology to shape a more equitable and sustainable digital future. Emerging technologies like AI and Quantum communication were also recognized for their transformative potential.