Photo: UNDP. Ms. Mirjana Spoljaric Egger Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Europe and CIS


Assistant  Secretary-General of the United Nations, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Europe and CIS Ms. Mirjana Spoljaric Egger's address at the 6th Regional Internet Governance Forum 

13 March 2019

Baku, Azerbaijan

Dear Mr. Guluzade, Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honour to join you today at the opening of the 6th Regional Internet Governance Forum which tackles one of the most burning challenges of digital transformation processes and our common responsibility everywhere in the world, including here in Azerbaijan– Cyber Security. 

I would like to begin by thanking the Government of Azerbaijan, particularly our long-term partner, the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies of the Republic of Azerbaijan for their continuous support in advancing the ICT agenda in the country and for co-hosting the Regional Forum together with UNDP.

The United Nations Development Programme places innovation at the forefront of its global and country-level development agenda to enable policies that are designed to extend the benefits of communications technologies to every woman, man, and child in the world. ICT innovations can be crucial in ensuring social and economic growth and timely access of every individual to information and knowledge.

Today, ICT and specifically Internet for all means access to information and educational resources, health care, timely public service delivery as well as improved food production and distribution. We are fully cognizant that digital development carries many opportunities, but it also carries risks of exacerbating inequality within and between countries, as well as challenging our existing governance structures – which we started to explore during our annual Istanbul Innovation Days in 2018, under the theme of #NextGenGov.

We work actively in mitigating those risks while also testing out the latest technologies, creating new partnerships and engaging with innovators – in Serbia we are using blockchain to lower the costs of remittance transfer and strengthen transparency and accountability, in Moldova we are working with the private sector in understanding urban development and mobility in real time, and also in Serbia we work hand in hand with the government to upskill young people in digital skills, opening the path for a brighter future. We also notice that many of these issues and opportunities manifest themselves first in cities – which is why they are a key knot in the system on whether we are able to manage the technological disruptions and share the prosperity.

Internet governance is at the heart of UNDP’s development work around the world. More specifically, fostering digital innovation is in line with the 2030 Agenda and is one of the Sustainable Development Goals, which largely inform the UN operations around the globe. Our ultimate motto is Leave No One Behind; this is our commitment to the countries and population we serve. Issues surrounding digital development are development issues– be it accountability, governance, human rights or (in)equality of opportunity. This is why UNDP is a key partner in ensuring that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is inclusive. However, we recognize that the speed of technological change is unprecedented, and it is only through strategic partnerships that we can respond and leverage the opportunities of the digital age.

Since I joined UNDP as the Director of the Regional Bureau for the Commonwealth of Independent States and Europe a few months ago, I am pleased to observe the tremendous investment Azerbaijan has made in its ICT portfolio and in fostering broader electronic government transformations – be it through the investment in ASAN or in more bottom up approaches, such as the Cleantech Bootcamp at the end of last year that sought to motivate young entrepreneurs to use technology to address climate change, and was organized by UNDP.  In this regard, I would like to specifically highlight UNDP’s lasting collaboration with the Government of Azerbaijan in the field of Information and Communication Technologies as the primary catalyser of development.

Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our partnership with the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies has a long history. I am pleased to be here today at the sixth edition of the annual Regional Internet Governance Forum in Azerbaijan which is part of a brooder and strategic partnership framework with the Government aimed at revolutionising the ICT sector in this country. This initiative started more than a decade ago.

Launched as part of a UNDP project on the modernisation and improved sustainability and efficiency of the ICT infrastructure and ICT services in Azerbaijan, the Regional Forum has indeed become a unique platform for many key players in this field to come together and share, learn, and innovate for development. Home to contemporary discussions about the role of robust digitization processes in governance, the Regional Internet Governance Forum is a great opportunity for both decision makers, communities, entrepreneurs, learners and teachers to disrupt old ways of doing business. This forum opens up the discussions on the future of internet as it has the potential to influence the new generation of governance and transform the lives of ordinary people and create governance platforms that are more inclusive and accessible to all, Leaving No One Behind.

I trust that this 6th Regional Internet Governance Forum in Azerbaijan will be a useful and beneficial platform for all to share ideas and involve in key discussions on Cyber Security where it is indeed our common responsibility to use the internet resources in a smart and sustainable manner ensuring that our actions and use of technologies harm no one.

Put simply, we all must work together to improve our cyber security defence. Cybersecurity is not just the responsibility of governments, companies, groups, or select individuals. We all share the responsibility for it – from the average smartphone user to a corporate CEO.

In closing, I would like to wish you all a fruitful day ahead filled with memorable networks, insightful debates and discussions about the future of internet governance.  

Let me take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to Minister Guluzade for his personal contribution to our joint efforts to modernize and increase the sustainability and effectiveness of the ICT systems in.  

Thank you very much!

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