Discussing Digital Policy in St. Gallen

March 2022

At the invitation of foraus, SDI talked to students of the University of St. Gallen about digital policy, and what role international Geneva plays in fostering constructive dialogue on digital governance. The ambitions of Switzerland in cyberspace were subsequently discussed with Federal Chancellor Walter Thurnherr.

The Campus of the University of St. Gallen features a new building: The Square. The new building houses facilities for interactive workshops and welcomes different personalities for short-term residencies. Recently, Federal Chancellor and SDI Board Member Walther Thurnherr spent some time in residency to connect with various stakeholders.

His presence provided a welcome opportunity for foraus to organise a session on the digital transformation in Switzerland. Being a part of the digital Geneva ecosystem and currently contributing to a foraus paper on Swiss digital foreign policy, SDI presented an overview and introduction to digital policy and Swiss activities to interested students.

It became clear that in the digital space, established actors and institutions are more and more being challenged by multistakeholder processes. Geneva with its legacy as the location for important international organisations from the United Nations to the ICRC nevertheless has an important role to play.

It is not only a vibrant ecosystem of international affairs but with research facilities such as CERN that effectively developed the World Wide Web as we now it and a growing number of NGOs and private companies setting up shop is also well positioned to be a relevant forum for digital governance.

The subsequent discussion with Federal Chancellor Walter Thurnherr reiterated that part of being a relevant actor is providing a good framework and infrastructure for fruitful debates and that Switzerland, while well positioned to shape and benefit from digital technologies, has some catching up to do.

The Swiss Digital Initiative is happy to contribute its part to this shared vision by bringing together various actors in Geneva and by advancing the adoption of ethical principles and Corporate Digital Responsibility to build digital trust and put humans at the centre of technological progress.