Dear Attendees of the 16th UN Internet Governance Forum,
It is my great pleasure and true honour to welcome you at IGF 2021 in the beautiful and vibrant Polish city of Katowice.
Regretfully I am unable to join you personally today. However, it is with great satisfaction that I can greet you – the most reputable Internet Community, send you my best wishes and to address you by means of this video.
Your numerous presence here on–site in Katowice but also on–line, due to the current pandemic situation, only shows the significance of the digital space in present days and how important its issues are for us all.
Let’s be honest: if there was no Internet, we would not be able to meet in such big numbers these days.
It is true that we all live in a digital world. Yet we also live in a time of great challenges which affect this digital dimension of human activity. Therefore, we all seek an environment which can be secure, neutral and trusted. It is only up to us, the global community, how we design it and how we organize it.
Digital transformation is simply a must for our global well–being. But we still need to answer some crucial questions, such as:
- How does digitalization change our lives?
- How can we fully benefit from it globally?
- What is our vision for future education?
- Can we fully trust the emerging technologies? And how can we harvest its benefits?
- Or – how do we preserve human rights in a digital space?
These questions need to be answered in a collective manner, not just by a country, by a region, or by a group of stakeholders.
What we really need is a joint, concerted effort. Otherwise it will simply not work.
I am truly delighted that today Poland is at the heart of the debate on these vital problems.
Some of you have made a long journey to come here, to Central Europe – a region of unique energy, home to ambitious nations, as well as hard–working, talented and creative individuals. I have no doubt you will appreciate the character of this amazing region extending from the Baltic in the north to the Black and the Adriatic Seas in the South.
I am especially happy to see such a great response from younger generations of Internet users. Your voice is so important in the processes to be discussed in Katowice over the next 7 days.
The future is yours and so is this debate.
Talking about future, I simply cannot miss this opportunity to mention that this year we celebrate the 100th birthday anniversary of Stanisław Lem – a visionary writer and futurologist.
Lem once said: “We don't want to conquer the cosmos, we simply want to extend the boundaries of Earth to the frontiers of the cosmos.”
But does the Internet really have no boundaries? And if so, can we extend them beyond the boundaries of our habits? Is the global network the final frontier?
I am sure those questions will be an inherent part of your dialogue, especially that the main theme of this year’s UN IGF in Poland is “Internet United – free, open and indivisible”.
I wish you undisturbed intellectual work, fruitful and passionate discussions as well as brave conclusions. May your debate result in making the Internet a valuable and enriching space as well as a secure, inclusive and trusted dimension of human activity.