IGF 2023 High-Level Leaders Session I: shaping data governance for global collaboration

At IGF 2023 High-Level Leaders Session I, global leaders gathered to discuss the vital role of data governance in addressing global challenges and advancing sustainable development. The discussions highlighted the significance of the G7-sponsored Data Free Flow with Trust (DFFT) initiative, emphasising the importance of institutional partnerships and international collaboration in achieving the 2030 agenda.

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On the first day of Internet Governance Forum (IGF 2023), global leaders convened for a profound discussion on the critical role of data governance in addressing global challenges and advancing sustainable development at the High-Level Leaders Session I.

Junhua Li, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, emphasised the profound importance of institutional partnerships in advancing the 2030 agenda. He underscored the significance of the G7-sponsored Data Free Flow with Trust (DFFT) initiative, which received widespread recognition for leveraging data and digital tools to drive progress. Filling gaps and fostering institutional partnerships emerged as essential goals to achieve the agenda, calling for broad participation from UN members, public stakeholders, private sector entities, academic institutions, and youth to stimulate dialogue and collaborative efforts in addressing critical social issues.

Minister for Digital Affairs of Japan, Taro Kono, highlighted the paramount significance of data governance in a rapidly evolving data-driven global economy. He delved into the challenges arising from the fragmented global data landscape and discussed the necessity of enhanced data-related regulations represented by the DFFT concept. The importance of reliable data, particularly in addressing complex issues such as climate change, was a central theme, acknowledging the critical role data plays in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Courtney Radsch, senior program manager for the Global Freedom of Expression Campaign, explored the transformative potential of data, showcasing its role in driving innovation, promoting equality, and reshaping our approach to environmental sustainability. The symbiotic relationship between data and trust was a recurring theme, focusing on the need for robust privacy protections and transparency in data usage policies. Discussions also highlighted the significant role of data-driven technologies and cross-border data flows in addressing global challenges and inequalities, with the COVID-19 pandemic serving as an essential example of the power of data in addressing global health disparities.

Founder of Intelipro, Leonida Mutuku, delved into the necessity of the Data Free Flow with Trust (DFFD) principle in fostering international data participation. She stressed the importance of promoting bilateral data flow and enhancing data quality, underlining the value of precise data categorisation. Additionally, Mutuku discussed the need for effective policy oversight to support the SDGs and the critical role of building trust in institutions responsible for data collection.

UN Secretary-General Mr António Guterres proposed a groundbreaking global digital compact that received strong support, marking a significant milestone in global digital governance. Attendees were urged to actively engage in discussions within the UN framework on this initiative, with a summit scheduled for September 2024, demonstrating a commitment to global cooperation in addressing digital challenges.

In conclusion, these discussions underscored the indispensable role of data governance, trust, and international collaboration in addressing global challenges and achieving the 2030 SDGs. With strategic investments and a commitment to overcoming digital divides, it was evident that the global community has the potential to shape a more inclusive and sustainable digital future.