Discussing the state of digital governance at Swiss IGF

Nicolas Zahn • June 2021

Last Monday, the Swiss Internet Governance Forum took place for the sixth time. The participants discussed various aspects of digital governance and the Swiss Digital Initiative supported the event by moderating a session on cybersecurity.

Providing a space for multistakeholder engagement

The Swiss Internet Governance Forum took place on Monday, June 21 in Berne and was again open for virtual participation.

The Swiss IGF is the Swiss national branch of the UN Internet Governance Forum and as such provides a unique forum for multistakeholder engagement on digital governance for Swiss actors from the public and private sector as well as from academia, the technical community and civil society.

As an organization that also follows the multistakeholder appraoch (and was also recognized for this by UNEP), the Swiss Digital Initiative is happy to support the Swiss IGF and coordinated and moderated the session on cybersecurity at this year’s Swiss IGF.

Switzerland’s role in digital governance

Switzerland has been heavily involved in the debate about digital governance, starting in 2003 with the World Summit on the Information Society and continuing today with the global Internet Governance Forum which also took place in Geneva in 2017.

The Swiss IGF continues the tradition of active multistakeholder engagement and the agenda of the meeting has evolved over the last years from narrow Internet Governance issues to a broader debate on digital governance and the social aspects of digital transformation.

Switzerlands engagement is also noted by other actors and the discussions from the Swiss IGF are brought to the attention of the regional and global forums such as EuroDIG, with which we also collaborated this year to provide a virtual plattform for informal exchange of the remote participants.

From lessons for the digital state to the new role for media

Every year, the Swiss IGF strives to strike a balance between width of topics and the depth of the discussion. This years agenda comprised five sessions.

The first session discussed lessons for the digital state and included an input statement by SDI Board Member Anjy Wyden Guelpa.

The second session was inspired by the COVID crisis and discussed how societies can harness the potential of digital services in times of crises (and beyond).

The third session focused on digital governance of the economy and trade rules while the fourth session addressed concerns around cybersecurity and what the rise in cyberattacks means for a neutral country like Switzerland and what roles the private and public sector play in defending against them.

Lastly, the transformation of media through digital technologies was debated in the fifth session on the new role for media.

The key insights from the fruitful debates over the course of the day have again been summarized in the “Messages from Berne” which are available here.