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Advancing Internet Access can help achieve Sustainable Economic Development

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 12 November 2012 –  Baku, Azerbaijan – According to a senior United Nations official, helping developing countries build their citizens’ access to the Internet is akin to giving them a tool that boosts their chances of achieving sustainable economic growth.  The comments came at the conclusion of a four-day conference of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.  The theme for this year’s Forum was ‘Internet Governance for Sustainable Human, Economic and Social Development,’ reflecting the increasing role of the Internet in the evolution of the various aspects of development, across all countries.  Visit http://www.intgovforum.org/cms/.

“The Internet offers a lot of potential and opportunities for sustainable development,” said the Director of the Division for Public Administration and Development Management of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), Haiyan Qian (pictured).  “We need to build capacities to address challenges and implement strategies, not only in our own countries and organizations, but also to assist others, especially those in developing and the least developed countries, as well as countries with economies in transition.”

Ms. Qian’s remarks, delivered on her behalf, were addressed to more than 1,600 delegates from 128 countries.  The Forum included the participation of governments, intergovernmental organizations, business representatives, the technical community, civil society organizations, as well as any individual Internet users interested in Internet governance issues.

In her remarks, Ms. Qian said IGF’s “inclusive, participatory and transparent governance process” plays a “critical role” in driving the growth of the Internet, which she said was “clearly” bringing new social and economic opportunities to so many people in the developing world.   “This session of the IGF has again provided the valued platform for continuous consensus building and learning opportunities for all,” she said. “I am sure each one of us will bring back to our respective countries and organizations new ideas and approaches on how we can best deal with these crucial issues.”

The forum emerged after 2005, when countries attending the second of two conferences of the UN-sponsored World Summit on the Information Society asked the UN Secretary-General to convene a new space for dialogue on Internet governance policy. Though not a decision-making body, it saw its initial five-year mandate renewed for a further five years by UN General Assembly.

IGF noted that activist groups drawn from civil society had demonstrated an “appetite to drive (the) global Internet agenda by attending the Baku conferences annual meeting in relative force.

Several dozen experts and panellists participated in the gathering from remote hubs around the world – a development IGF said had become a “major strength” of the forum process. It also highlighted the rising use of social media platforms by delegates, noting that their use spiked “significantly” – enabling discussion to continue beyond the meeting rooms.

The forum concluded on a day the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) also highlighted the importance of communications for advancing development. The Paris-based agency did so in remarks delivered at UN Headquarters in New York to the UN General Assembly’s Second Committee, which deals with economic and financial matters.

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and its predecessors have helped countries around the world meet their economic, social and environmental challenges for more than 50 years.  DESA’s mission – to promote development for all – reflects a fundamental concern for equity and equality in countries large and small, developed and developing.  For more information, visit http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/index.html.

Source: United Nations