Internet Governance Forum 2016: Closing address by Cheryl Miller

  • 9 December 2016

Closing address by Cheryl Miller, representative for the business community and ICC BASIS at the 11th Internet Governance Forum (IGF), Guadalajara, Mexico.

Buenos Dias. I am speaking this afternoon on behalf of the International Chamber of Commerce and its Business Action to Support Information Society Initiative (BASIS). My name is Cheryl Miller and I am the Director of International Public Policy and Regulatory Affairs at Verizon Communications.

Verizon has supported the IGF since its inception, and it’s great to be able to witness its growth and to participate on the MAG on behalf of business.

Whether large, medium-sized or small, business depends on an open, stable and trusted Internet. I am proud to be a member of this global business community. Its diversity spans across sectors, geographies and includes SMEs, women and minority-owned businesses as well as large multinational corporations. This variety of vantage points and interests is critical in formulating informed policy positions that accurately address the needs of the Internet community.

I’d like to thank and congratulate Mexico and the wonderful team of organisers and volunteers that have worked so hard to make this event a success. They made us all feel so welcome in this beautiful city, and I think they deserve a round of applause.

Thanks also to the IGF Secretariat and my fellow MAG members for their contribution to the continued growth of the IGF. Finally, a special mention to the IGF newcomers and youth. You injected new energy and perspectives into the discussions and workshops this year. I look forward to your continued engagement and IGF participation in the years ahead. Your voices are critical to the IGF’s growth and sustainability.

Renewed mandate

This week, we came together from all sectors and from all regions of the world – with a common goal – to consider Internet policy options that can be leveraged for inclusive and sustainable growth, to benefit all people.

The 10-year IGF mandate renewal has given us a timeframe and opportunity to build on the strengths of this forum – where multistakeholder cooperation through knowledge sharing as well as safe and open debates spreads invaluable understanding.

Issues addressed

Our work here in Guadalajara will greatly advance our efforts to leverage ICTs and the Internet to attain the UN’s 17 universally-adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Each goal is supported by or relevant to the use of ICT – to drive societal benefit and economic development in supporting critical areas of living. These include health, agriculture, sustainable consumption, education, urban planning, water, energy conservation, and the reduction of inequalities.

I am particularly pleased that this year we had a number of workshops and sessions focused on gender, empowerment of women through ICT, and addressing barriers to women in the Internet space. These sessions were standing room only , which tells me that many of you also share my belief in the importance of these issues.

The IGF’s multistakeholder exchange facilitates understanding of the key Internet issues to date, and highlights the variety of viewpoints on how we might meet the challenges ahead.

This year we targeted our main sessions to closely examine Internet governance in relation to the SDGs, national and regional initiatives, human rights, the future of Internet governance, trade agreements, policy options for connecting the nextbillions, the work of dynamic coalitions and emerging issues.

Thanks to our intersessional work, including our best practice forums, this IGF also delivered a multitude of case studies to consider when we return home. I know that despite this progress, we still have much work to do in shaping and utilising the various exchanges and knowledge sharing that make the IGF both unique and valuable.

The delegates that meet at the IGF are actively working to strengthen the IGF’s impact in solving real world issues. And one example I saw this week is the community’s collaboration on the new 1 World Connected initiative.

During the course of the IGF’s intersessional work on connecting the unconnected, several delegates, from across stakeholder groups, began a new project to address issues related to connectivity.

They met at the IGF last year, and the different discussions around access, local content, digital literacy, and women’s empowerment inspired them to make aneven larger contribution to the Internet community’s ongoing work on these important issues.

I watched the discussions continue and include a variety of new voices that provided invaluable input into the project’s effort to collect data, and provide a better understanding of what is working to connect people, what’s not working, and how we can evaluate this information.

This kind of multistakeholder collaboration, while seemingly small to some , may not have been possible anywhere other than the IGF. And the warmth that the 1 World Connected team spread through their generous and open outreach to all through their booth activities made this IGF memorable for me.

As we look to the future of the IGF, the global business community hopes for continued cooperation among all stakeholders to work towards attainment of the sustainable development goals.

We hope to address business models that can adapt to the future and ever-evolving circumstances, as well as ways of working to address employment, skills development capacity-building and inclusion. And we will continue to demonstrate how a flexible policy environment is indispensable for businesses to continue to invest and innovate as ICTs and the Internet emerge as the underpinning for achieving common goals to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that no one, including the young, women, and those who are differently abled- is left behind. It is important that we remember, at the end of the day, everything that we do here, is about people, regardless of the long acronyms, the gigabits, and etc.

Achieving sustainability requires a respectful and informed balance of interests among all stakeholders, based on meaningful engagement and a comprehensive understanding of the impact of Internet policy decisions.

Private sector investment and innovation has transformed the Internet from an information exchange network to the platform for sustainable, social and economic development we recognise it to be today.

Let us continue our multistakeholder efforts to continue progress in this way.