The IGF Opening Ceremony took place with keynote addresses from United Nations Secretary (UN) General Antonio Guterres and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. During his speech, Mr Guterres called upon delegates to engage in multistakeholder conversations about the future of Internet governance.
On making technology work for all, Mr Guterres stated: “Digital technologies, depending on their use, can be a force that widens social gaps or reduces them.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel underscored on the importance of an open, stable, and trusted Internet for society. During her keynote address, Ms Merkel compared her own experience of growing up behind the Berlin Wall to existing digital barriers in society today. Ms Merkel said:
“It is a very emotional moment when 30 years ago, we have seen the fall of the Berlin Wall, and so it is for me an enormous frustration to be that today, not only we are still building physical walls to separate people, but that there is also the tendency to create some virtual walls in the Internet also to separate people.”
ICC takes centre stage on High Level Opening Sessions
Following the opening ceremony, ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO spoke on the High Level Opening Session on Internet Governance and SDGs and ICC Executive Board Member and Chair of ICC Mexico Maria-Fernanda Garza, participated in the High Level Opening Session on Internet Governance and SMEs.
Both Mr Denton and Ms Garza highlighted ICC’s call to extend the World Trade Organization (WTO) moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions, as well as the importance of enhancing digital inclusion and diversity. Mr Denton said: “The maintenance of the moratorium is critical for the capacity of innovation in developing countries.” Mr Denton also explained how emerging technologies, like blockchain, can enhance digital inclusivity and diversity.
As part of her panel on SMEs, Ms Garza stressed the importance of regulatory certainty for business, stating: “We need certainty to ensure that the rules that apply today will apply in the future.” Given the constant evolution of digital technology, Ms Garza urged governments to ensure that regulation does not create any barriers or burdens for business.
Connecting SMEs with cross-border data
ICC convened leaders from business, civil society and the technical community for an interactive workshop on Cross-border data: connecting SMEs in the global supply chain. The workshop, led by Thomas Grobe, Senior Expert, Deutsche Telekom, analysed data-related challenges faced by small- and medium-sized enterprises, including protection and privacy concerns.
Equipped with statistics and case studies, participants outlined the benefits of cross-border data for SMEs. Most notably, James Howe, Senior Adviser, International Trade Centre (ITC), identified that 65% of SMEs who are not doing cross-border trade wanted to do so. These statistical observations, which were provided by participants throughout the session, further emphasised the intersecting relationship between data and access for SMEs.
If you can’t be in Berlin for the 2019 IGF, don’t forget to follow our activities via our dedicated social media accounts on Twitter @ICCnetgov or join the conversation using #IGF2019.