3 takeaways from the 2021 Internet Governance Forum – ICC

The 16th Internet Governance Forum brought together more than 10,000 participants online and in person in Katowice, Poland, from December 6-10. For the event, the ICC brought together representatives from companies from around the world to ensure that the shared private sector experience and views are heard.

Here are our top three takeaways of the week:

  1. Representation at the highest level

Joining United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Polish President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and other high-level speakers, Ralph Mupita (CEO, MTN Group) of the ICC Executive Board stressed that The common denominator of the size, sector and geographic diversity of global companies was the mission to support global economic and social growth. Mr. Mupita underlined the key role the private sector plays in bridging the digital divides in the world and the importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships that support this role.

Throughout the week, business representatives participated in seven high-level dialogues and six main thematic sessions to share business perspectives on Internet governance, crucial for the promotion of international trade, development economic and innovation.

ICC First Vice President Maria Fernanda Garza (CEO, Orestia) joined United Nations Assistant Secretary General Maria Francesca Spatolisano, Polish State Secretary Janusz Cieszyński, Japanese Minister of Interior and Communications Yasushi Kaneko and Ethiopian ICT Minister Huria Ali to speak at the Forum closing ceremony. Ms. Garza highlighted how businesses around the world recognize the imperative – in both moral and economic terms – to act in accordance with political commitments to keep the Internet open, secure and unfragmented.

  1. The major commercial issues on the agenda

To provide additional context, evidence and contributions to the main policy issues discussed at this year’s forum, ICC’s Business Action to Support the Information Society (BASIS) initiative worked with partners to organize three events on priority issues for the private sector:

Free data flow with confidence

The workshop Trustworthy data flows – what are the challenges and what are the needs? reflected on the economic and societal value of cross-border data flows and called on governments, supported by international organizations, to seek international and interoperable agreements, standards and principles to enable secure and responsible data transfers across borders . The workshop stressed that this should be done in an informed manner by building on evidence and consulting with stakeholders to understand the scale and scope of the value of data flows so that they can be meaningfully assessed. appropriate in relation to significant efforts to protect personal data.

Meaningful universal connectivity

Session participants From commitment to action: breaking down barriers to connectivity agreed that connectivity projects supported by the private sector are not about providing infrastructure but an opportunity: possibility of information sharing, education, access to public services, trade, investment, innovation, growth and development. The session called on policymakers and regulators to adopt innovative regulation to enable innovative technologies and new business models. Such regulation must be flexible, evidence-based and forward-looking, and encouraged by investments on both the supply and demand side of technology.

Sustainable digitization

Conversation in the workshop Reducing carbon in a digital world – myths and facts highlighted the role of data sharing, transparency and standardization in helping to monitor and reduce emissions from the ICT sector. Participants called on the ICT industry to continue reducing emissions, while providing expertise and applying digital technologies to reduce emissions in other sectors and services.

  1. Conversations throughout the week

IGF 2021 hosted more than 300 sessions, welcoming more than 10,000 participants from 175 countries, once again creating a unique environment for knowledge sharing, exchange of good practices and capacity building, and encouraging a openness and frank exchanges between the participants. The conversations highlighted a number of policy areas for consideration, including calls for:

  • Shared Principles for Data Governance, including collection, sharing and maintenance, to ensure confidence in data, cross-border data flows and data-driven technologies and business models;
  • Innovation in regulatory approaches, which take into account the needs of all stakeholders – including businesses of all sizes and sectors – respect human rights, protect consumer rights and support new and innovative business models;
  • Transparency, understandability and accountability technologies, the companies that develop them and the policy and regulatory processes that govern them;
  • Enhanced cooperation in cybersecurity, including on the implementation of existing standards for responsible behavior in cyberspace, capacity building and awareness of existing instruments.
  • Ongoing efforts to provide meaningful connectivity for everyone, everywhere, promote political, technical and business solutions, and intensify existing best practices to bridge the digital divide; and
  • Strengthen the multi-stakeholder approach to ensure a collaborative, equitable and inclusive Internet governance framework.

In the perspective of IGF 2022 and 2023

For the first time in the Forum’s 16-year history, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has appointed a member of the business community to chair the Multi-stakeholder Consultative Group (MAG) of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) 2022. Appointed by the International Chamber of Commerce, with broad support from stakeholders around the world, Paul Mitchell (former Senior Director, Technology Policy and Internet Governance at Microsoft) is expected to lead the Group over the two years, when the IGF is scheduled to take place in Ethiopia in 2022 and Japan in 2023.


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