Closing remarks to the Internet Governance Forum 2014 on behalf of ICC BASIS by Hossam R. El-Gamal, Managing Director, GNSE Group & ICC BASIS member. IGF 2014 Day 4.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
- I would like to express our thanks to our hosts, the Government of Turkey for their gracious hospitality in this beautiful and historic city.
- The image for IGF 2014 includes Istanbul’s iconic bridge over the Bosporus. A bridge at a crossroads of civilization, joining east and west and new and old.
- Indeed, the discussions prompted by this year’s IGF theme – ‘Connecting Continents’ – have clearly demonstrated that we are all at a crossroads.
The Internet, Business and SMEs:
- I am a member of ICC BASIS, an initiative by the International Chamber of Commerce to represent the global business community in Internet policy discussion.
- I am from Egypt, a country which sits at a crossroads between two continents – Africa and Asia.
- And instead of a bridge, we have the Suez canal which acts as a major global trade link connecting north and south.
- Egypt is also a developing country where business is mainly driven by small and medium-sized enterprises – or SMEs – for whom the Internet is the major enabler for both local and international growth.
- However, the success of SMEs depends not only on the technology itself, but on the policies that have been put in place to enable the development of the digital society, and to boost online trade and ecommerce.
- That is why it is so key that SMEs’ voices are heard – in particular, from developing countries.
- More needs to be done to enable the participation of SMEs. ICC is working to expand overall business participation across sectors and geographies.
- And we welcome the launch of the IGF Support Association which will contribute to the financial stability of the IGF, including helping to enable exactly this kind of participation from developing countries.
- There is an ever increasing dependence on a secure, stable and resilient Internet for businesses in financial services, logistics, healthcare, automotive and many other sectors to properly function.
- Addressing the challenges of governance on and of the Internet to maintain such a secure, stable and resilient resource should be a business imperative for them and we will do all we can to bring them into the IGF.
- Businesses of all sizes must be included in Internet governance dialogue and that means highlighting that the work of the IGF includes not just the challenges to governance but also how it helps countries, companies and individuals benefit from increased economic growth that can fuel enhanced societal benefit.
- This IGF has focused on potential improvement and enhancement.
- There is an emerging call from a broad range of stakeholders to not just renew the mandate of the IGF for another 5 years but to further extend its re-endorsement to enhance its stability and ability to engage in longer term improvements.
- There has similarly been broad recognition across stakeholder groups this week that the IGF will also require enhanced and stable funding.
- A unique element of the IGF is its ability to facilitate broad conversations as stepping stones to consensus and practical outputs for capacity building, best practice and knowledge transfer.
- It is a laboratory of diverse exploration, not a negotiating body that is tied to a specific topic or the development of a text as its initial objective. In that way, IGF is not suited to a unitary outcome; it is the home of diverse projects and ideas resulting in a rich variety of outcomes.
- Discussion of various elements of Net neutrality at this IGF is an example of meaningful dialog on a complex and controversial subject, promoting better understanding of various positions, clarifying misconceptions and highlighting topics that require further exploration to facilitate conversation.
- These are all important outputs of IGF and lose none of their significance by not being reduced to a single document.
- Better capturing learning and making it portable and applicable, especially for developing economies is another enhancement that we need to continue work on. Part of that enhancement may include the development of tools to better associate existing resources to issues under discussion – what some have called a “policy router”.
- Finally the role of regional and national IGFs is an important complement and catalyst to the IGF.
- We should ask how we further energize the national and regional IGFs in omnidirectional communication and knowledge transfer; not just between IGF and national and regional bodies, but also among national and regional bodies that can share outcomes, enable knowledge transfer and help identify pressing issues to consider.
- We must also explore how such a network of regional and national IGFs can form the architectural backbone for intercessional work.
- In short, we need to do more to evolve and sustain the IGF going forward.
- It is the conviction of the global business community that the IGF’s lifespan as an effective multistakeholder forum must be long and rich – and its on-going value must continue beyond 2015.
- But above all, the IGF must endure in its multistakeholder form, bringing diverse perspectives together to discuss the issues at the forefront of Internet policymaking.
- Diversity is the best, and the only way to achieve a culture of informed policy choices.
- This is the approach that fosters and protects the transformative power of the Internet across developing and developed economies alike.