Excellencies, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen. As the 7th IGF draws to a close, it is my pleasure to address you today as Vice President-Public Policy & Deputy Chief Privacy Officer, AT&T and as Global Business Representative of the International Chamber of Commerce’s BASIS initiative – Business Action to Support the Information Society.
I would like to express our thanks to our hosts, the Government of Azerbaijan, for their hospitality and for the opportunity to convene in Baku for this year’s IGF. We look forward to Azerbaijan’s continued leadership in Internet development in the region and its continued participation in the global multistakeholder Internet governance process.
The discussions prompted by this year’s theme – ‘Internet governance for sustainable human, economic and social development’ – have keenly illustrated how integral the Internet is in advancing social and economic opportunity around the world, and enhancing tomorrow’s business landscape. The Internet is a hugely powerful economic force and has a direct, positive impact on job creation, trade, competitiveness, and economic development – both for small and large enterprises, and for mature and developing economies.
Over the last few days we have discussed the vital importance of the Internet in promoting social development and empowering millions to escape poverty, as well as exchanging best practices across a wide range of key topics – from infrastructure deployment and innovation in mobile technologies to security and data protection issues.
Business leaders have applauded the IGF for its unique opportunity to discuss policy issues on an inclusive, equal footing and inform policy-making around the world at national, regional, and international levels. In fostering dialogue, and addressing the policy-making process with diverse stakeholders, IGF 2012 has illustrated how integral this approach is in protecting and enhancing the social and economic value of the Internet.
The progress made here has been tangible. IGF is leading the way in driving informed policy decisions and in contributing to ongoing Internet debates. The multistakeholder process developed through the seven years of IGF meetings serves as a global model and a clear counterpoint to established single stakeholder negotiations such as the WCIT.
In the context of ongoing debate about the WCIT enhanced cooperation, now, more than ever, is the time to enrich the debate about participation in Internet governance; if we want the Internet to remain one of the world’s greatest human, social and economic resources, it is critically important that we protect the innovative multi-stakeholder processes which have fostered its success. Other models for shaping the way in which the Internet is governed would impact the positive effects of the collaborative policy-making process we have in place today and would potentially threaten the openness which has defined the Web from the outset and which has enabled it to become such a strong economic tool for positive change.
The Tunis agenda clearly refers to the need for greater cooperation among existing organisations. This is happening. It will also be crucial in developing policies that advocate market entry and investments, promoting innovation and eliminating economic barriers facing those companies looking to invest in new markets and grow our economies.
The IGF itself is a vital catalyst for enhanced cooperation that has stimulated many hugely impactful initiatives, We have seen positive proof of this from main sessions and workshops which have addressed issues from the principles of Internet governance to freedom of expression and human rights.
These successes demonstrate why the IGF continues to be so important. We come here to discuss hard issues, understand successes and failures around best practices and policy, and address new and emerging topics. This helps to build consensus for more consistent and effective policies. We must continue to work together to expand participation and to show that the goal of a well-governed Internet is best achieved through the multistakeholder framework of the IGF.
The Internet continues to enrich the lives of billions of people globally, driven by innovation, investment, and enabling policy frameworks. That’s why it’s paramount that we work together to ensure the right governance choices are made to build on the Internet success story. Faced with the prospect of renewed discussions about establishing a model of Internet governance that excludes critically important stakeholder groups, and other vital voices, as well as fundamental aspects of an open Web, business believes that flexible, market focused policies are key to furthering the Internet’s development and are more essential than ever in achieving the vision and goal of an inclusive dynamic Internet.
With a guiding principle that any Internet governance initiative should first and foremost do no harm, it is clear that multistakeholder cooperation and discussion is required to help promote broad-based and inclusive policy-making in order to support the Internet’s dynamic growth.
In summary, we have accomplished a lot in the past four days and the past seven years. The IGF has become the recognised global platform for addressing Internet policy issues. But we need to ensure that it remains a sustainable institution with a broad base of private and public sector funding, as well as stable leadership. This will ensure that stakeholders from all parts of the globe can participate and help to shape the future of the Internet.
We have laid a strong foundation here in Baku for the upcoming WSIS +10 review events and for next year’s Forum in Indonesia where participation and enhanced cooperation from all stakeholder groups will help us achieve our goal of securing a robust and flexible Internet Governance framework for the future.