25 October 2013 – Closing address by Virat Bhatia, ICC BASIS representative for the business community at the IGF.
Virat is also Chairman of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and President, International External Affairs, AT&T South Asia.
- I am here on behalf of the International Chamber of Commerce and the BASIS initiative that is Business Action to Support Information Society for those who might not be aware.
- On behalf of myself and the BASIS members, the business community would like to sincerely thank our hosts, the Government of Indonesia, for their warm hospitality and for the opportunity to convene in the beautiful city of Bali for this year’s IGF.
- In coming together in this Forum, we have been able to discuss pressing issues on how we can collectively build a more secure and accessible Internet for all, one which will enable us to continue and expand its value as a positive, unparalleled social and economic force
- Over the past few days, we have exchanged best practices and debated a wide range of key topics that will continue to pose questions of policy as the Internet evolves further. Questions extending from infrastructure deployment to mobile innovation, to new business models for machine to machine deployment, to the topic of government surveillance and distinct issues of commercial practices with data, and of course the conversations about human rights, free speech, security, and data protection
- All these topics have a place at a multistakeholder setting of the IGF. Indeed, where else can they be discussed in such an open and comprehensive manner? While business continues to progress the multistakeholder model of governance, it also recognizes that now, more than ever, it is time to re-energize the concept and practice of consultative multistakeholder governance
- At a time when we are witnessing significant energy in the dynamics between governments and other stakeholder groups we need to promote greater cooperation amongst all organizations across the spectrum: civil society, private sector, government, academia and the technical community. Business joins other stakeholders in supporting the multistakeholder approach, rather than the creation of new entities
- It is integral to strengthening communication between diverse groups and for building a unified approach to Internet policy development. In the context of all the valuable conversations here, we have learned several new initiatives designed to enhance and reaffirm multistakeholder participation in Internet governance from Montevideo to Brazil.
- Business underscores the need for all initiatives to find a structured way to appropriately involve all stakeholders on an equal footing in the development and implementation of these proposals, and to assure transparency and accountability to stakeholders
- It must be a journey to which everyone feels invited to contribute. IGF remains the home of the most inclusive debate. The IGF is the greatest testimony to the impact of a multistakeholder model in sharing opinion and perspectives, and providing platform to inform policy-making around the world at all levels
- Nothing should be allowed to obstruct the value of IGF continues to deliver. That is why business continues to champion IGF and we look ahead to these initiatives, we believe that the model of inclusive participation embodies in the heart of delivering successful outcomes in the future
- A great deal of seismis change has happened this year. The world has come to understand more clearly than ever the important role that government policy can play in the global Internet, and the way in which it can grow or fragment. As a result, governance of the Internet is under more scrutiny than it has ever been before, and we must work together to ensure that it continues to serve the public interest, and it continues to grow in a manner that fosters availability and adoption. We must be careful to avoid fragmentation of the Internet to national policies that dilute its global nature.
- Business agrees that governments globally have an important role in Internet policy discussions. Equally, it recognizes that achieving sustainable outcomes requires a respectful and informed balance of interests amongst all stakeholders based on a meaningful engagement and a comprehensive understanding of the consequences of any policy decision
- To bring my remarks now to a close, we have accomplished a lot in the last four days, and indeed, in the last eight years. It is for this reason that business calls for the IGF’s continuity beyond 2015. Business opposes a multilateral or intergovernmental approach to Internet governance. It is clear to me, and to the rest of the business community, that having a meaningful representative and inclusive process for debate and decision-making is fundamental to supporting the Internet’s dynamic growth
- For this to happen, we must strengthen the financial and political mechanism that supports the IGF and its leadership as has been mentioned by the speakers before me.
- IGF remains vital for protecting and promoting a free and open web on which business thrives and which continues to empower societies, economies, our youth, and especially the underprivileged across the globe. Thank you.