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Wednesday, 14 September 2010

• The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) officially opened in Vilnius today with participants from government, international organizations, the private sector, civil society and the Internet community discussing how the Internet can be used to its full potential for the benefit of all people.

• With the theme of “Developing the future together” the meeting will explore how the Internet can benefit people worldwide and how Internet governance can be a means to achieving development for all as expressed in internationally agreed targets like the Millennium Development Goals.

• The fifth gathering of the IGF, which ends on Friday, will also discuss issues of security, openness and privacy, access and diversity, Internet governance for development and critical Internet resources, the emerging issue of cloud computing and the way forward for Internet governance.

• In a musical departure from normal practice Vytautas Grubliauskas a Lithuanian Member of Parliament who is participating in the IGF sang Louis Armstrong’s ‘ What a wonderful world’ at the beginning of the Opening Ceremony and played his trumpet to great applause.

• The opening address delivered by Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development on behalf of Sha Zukang, Under Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) drew attention to the Millennium Development Goals and how the Internet can help to achieve them.

• Mr. Sundaram said the IGF meeting was timely with the summit next week in New York where more than 100 heads of State and Government and others will review progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. “There are so many ways that the Internet can help developing countries reach them. Through both simple and sophisticated techniques, the Internet can help eradicate poverty, educate people, sustain the environment and create healthier populations. Let us recommit ourselves at this Forum to identifying the barriers that prevent stakeholders from using the Internet for development and suggest ways to bring down those barriers,” he said.

• Around 1.8 billion people were using the Internet according to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), he said, with a sharp increase in all regions in the last few years. Between 2005 and 2009, the number of users in Africa surged from 16 to 69 million, in Arab States from 26 to 64 million, in the Asia-Pacific region from 347 to 744 million and in the Commonwealth of Independent States, from 30 to 99 million. In the Americas, the numbers of users went from 322 to 447 million and in Europe, from 277 to 387 million.

• There had been an increase in the use of mobile broadband in developing countries where around 60 per cent of people have cellular telephones, which was a cause for celebration Mr. Sundaram said. However other indicators showed that the digital divide between developed and developing regions has been widening. “..while developing countries are making progress, developed countries are moving even faster”. He encouraged participants to brainstorm how to rectify this disparity and come up with strategies for expanding Internet and broadband access.

• He reminded participants that the IGF’s central aim is to afford all people the benefits of the Internet and called on the Forum to begin an engaging, illuminating and productive discourse.

• The President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite speaking at the Opening Ceremony said that the Internet, born not so long ago, had become an integral part of our everyday life and its development was crucial to worldwide progress: “It is impossible to imagine modern business, public services, the spread of information, cultural exchanges, person to person contacts, entertainment and leisure without the global electronic network.” The President told the IGF participants about the situation in her country: “Lithuania has achieved truly good results over the past decade. Today we have one of the highest Internet speeds and mobile phone penetration rates in the world. Therefore, we must continue to invest into technological development and accelerate the implementation of National and European digital agendas.”

• The Lithuanian Minister of Transport and Communications, Eligijus Masiulis, who assumed the Chair of the IGF’s fifth meeting, told the participants: “There is no doubt that the Internet plays an integral and very important role in the economic development of all countries.” He explained how the Internet has helped develop roads, railways and other means of transport in Lithuania, made trade better, facilitated export of services, stimulated business and promoted competitiveness and helped to create jobs. He also stressed how attention had to be paid to security and safety of the Internet.

• Speaking in the high level session that followed the opening ceremony were Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission, Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, Deputy Secretary General, Council of Europe, Lynn St. Amour, Chief Executive Officer and President, The Internet Society (ISOC), Augusto Gadelha Vieira, Secretary General, Ministry of Science and Technology, Brazil, Rod Beckstrom, Chief Executive Officer and President, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), Andrew McLaughlin, Deputy Chief Technology Officer, The White House, United States of America, N. Ravi Shanker, Joint Secretary, Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Information Technology, India, Jânis Kârkliòš, Assistant Director-General, UNESCO, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, Secretary of State for Forward Planning and the Development of the Digital Economy, France, Subramanian Ramadorai, Chair, ICC BASIS; Vice Chairman, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Sami Al-Basheer, Director, ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDTITU), Jean-Paul Philippot, President, European Broadcasting Union (EBU); CEO, Radio Télévision Belge de la Communauté Française (RTBF), Annemie Turtelbloom, Minister of Internal Affairs, Belgium, Ginger Paque, Co-Coordinator, Internet Governance Caucus, James Rege, Chairman, Parliamentary Committee on Energy, Transport and Communication, Kenya and there was a video message from Tarek Kamel, the Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Egypt.

• The Chief Executive Officer and President, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), Rod Beckstrom, said the IGF derived its strength and legitimacy from its multi-stakeholder composition. He called on the United Nations General Assembly to retain this successful format: “What matters most is that we further strengthen the multi-stakeholder model by continuing to welcome diverse and occasionally contradictory voices. Together we can ensure that the Internet’s future rests in the hands of its most important constituency: the people.”

• Speakers at the opening press conference were IGF Chair the Lithuanian Minister of Transport and Communications Eligijus Masiulis and Assistant Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) Jomo Kwame Sundaram who thanked the Lithuanian Government for hosting the IGF. A webcast of the press conference will be available on the webcast page of the IGF.

• In the morning, there was a session co-moderated by William J. Drake and Markus Kummer
providing background on the evolution and current state of Internet governance discussions in the IGF. The objective of the session is to provide some historical context and introduce the main issues of the Vilnius meeting. At the ‘Setting the Scene’ session the book ‘Internet Governance: Creating opportunities for all’, documenting the proceedings of the 2009 meeting was launched. It is available at www.intgovforum.org/book.pdf. There were brief presentations by five of the experts who authored background papers for the book Jeanette Hofmann (on critical Internet resources), Olga Cavalli (on Openness), Hong Xue (on Diversity), Anriette Esterhuysen (on Access), Alejandro Pisanty (on Security)and the principal themes of the IGF meetings were outlined. Commenting on the presentations were N. Ravi Shanker and Arthur Reilly.

• A session on the ‘regional perspectives’ moderated by the Executive Coordinator of the IGF Secretariat, Markus Kummer which considered regional input on the main themes of IGF 2010 to give participants a cross regional perspective.

• The mandate of the IGF will expire this year. A report by the United Nations Secretary-General to be considered by the General Assembly during its 65th session recommends the extension for a further five years with some improvements.


Anne Thomas, UN Information Officer
Mobile: (+370) 61318266

(See attached file: Tuesday_14_highlights_final.doc)

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