IGF 2023 Main Sessions


Global Digital Compact & Beyond: A Multistakeholder Perspective Outline (10 October | 11:00 - 12:30 JST | Main Hall)  

A “Global Digital Compact” is presented to be one of the major outcomes of the UN Summit of the Future, which is to be held in September 2024. The process to come to the GDC has already started and together with the IGF multistakeholder community it is important to assess and take stock of the progress made so far on proposed outcomes and deliberate on the next steps. 

In light of the developments, this session will explore the scope of the GDC, what will be its major elements, including its monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. 

This main session aims to offer itself as a platform to hear from the IGF community on the GDC to date and to express themselves on their expectations from the processor. Here the main goal is to consider the potential impact of the Summit of the Future on the broader Internet and global digital governance discourses.

The session page is available here

Bridging the Gap Between International Negotiations and On-Ground Experiences in Cybercrime Response (10 October | 13:30 - 15:00 JST | Main Hall) 

In today's technology-driven era, where Internet access and technology adoption are pervasive, cybercrime has emerged as a highly profitable venture with enticing rewards and minimal risks. This complex issue draws in governments, non-governmental entities, and individuals alike. Global endeavors such as the UN Open-Ended Working Group (UN OEWG) and the UN Ad Hoc Committee on Cybercrime are in progress to promote cybersecurity and international norms. However, a stark disparity exists between the practical efforts taking place on the ground and the overarching push for global resilience and regulatory measures.

This session aims to create a dynamic platform for knowledge exchange, collaboration, and innovation by bringing together diverse stakeholders from both multilateral processes and practical cybercrime response efforts. By uniting the insights gained from negotiations with the experiences of those actively engaged "on the ground," we aim to explore effective strategies that bridge this gap and enable holistic, evidence-based, and tailored solutions to address complex cybercrime challenges.

The session page is available here

AI that We Want (10 October | 15:15 - 16:45 JST | Main Hall)

In today's world, Artificial Intelligence (AI) plays a pivotal role in transforming industries and daily life. By emulating human cognitive functions like learning, reasoning, and problem-solving, AI becomes a powerful tool driving innovation and addressing complex challenges. To maximize AI's positive impact on society, a responsible and ethical development that is grounded in human rights principles is essential and must be supported by a framework of policies, standards, legislation, and regulation. Additionally, translating these to be a binding  agreement would provide a stronger framework for safeguarding rights, promoting fairness, and mitigating risks associated with AI. It must be emphasized that enforceable laws and policies ensure AI technologies are used responsibly, holding those accountable for non-compliance.  It is, therefore, imperative to take a global collaborative and harmonized approach to the governance framework to achieve the AI we want.

The goal of this main session is to discuss how AI could be designed, regulated, and harmonized to better serve all humans and how this can be achieved. It is necessary to assess the state of development of standards and regulations, share knowledge and best practices, and provide a platform for a multistakeholder exchange on how to develop common principles for the AI we want and ensure that we have the right institutions in place to translate them into binding standards and regulations.

The session page is available here

An Untapped Resource: How Can Digital Cooperation Contribute to the Battle for Our Environment? (11 October | 10:15 - 11:45 JST | Main Hall) 

It is well understood that development, spread, and use of the Internet and ICTs have significant impacts on the environment. At the same time, these technologies have the potential to significantly help in addressing environmental impact, whether by facilitating new approaches and efficiencies or in allowing us to measure and analyse the impact our actions have on the environment. The key to both mitigating the damage and unlocking the potential lies in better understanding the complex (sometimes counter-intuitive) relationships between the use of these technologies and their impact on the environment.

Digital technologies are evolving as quickly as our understanding of the planet’s environmental systems and humanity’s impact on them. We are only beginning to understand the impact of emerging technologies like AI, but even our understanding of how more established technologies affect the planet is incomplete, while the need for effective policies and best practices has never been more urgent. This session will aim to progress our common understanding and coordination on matters of digital cooperation in ways that will practically contribute to the all-important goal of protecting our natural environment.

The session page is available here


Upholding Human Rights in the Digital Age: Fostering a Multistakeholder Approach for Safeguarding Human Dignity and Freedom for All (11 October | 14:00 - 15:30 JST | Main Hall) 

Digital technologies open new possibilities to promote and advocate for human rights, spanning civil, political, cultural, economic, and social domains. New digital tools reshape how information is accessed, opinions are formed, and discussions are catalyzed, thereby redefining the very essence of the "public square."  As observed in the IGF Messages 2022, they can, however, also be equally used by private tech companies and state authorities to suppress, limit and violate human rights, for instance through dis- and misinformation, hate speech, online harassment, censorship, internet shutdowns, surveillance, and manipulation. Particularly during critical periods of political unrest, elections, and power transitions at the local, national or international level, there is a heightened risk of human rights abuses that need to be effectively addressed. The misuse of digital technologies also tends to disproportionately affect marginalized individuals and groups, leading to inequality and discrimination - both online and offline.

This main session will shine a spotlight on the pressing need for global cooperation and governance to promote and safeguard human rights in the digital age, such as privacy, data protection, freedom of opinion and expression, including freedom of assembly and association, the right to life, liberty and security of person which is relevant for the prevention of hate speech, the right to education and work, and non-discrimination of individuals and marginalized groups.

The session page is available here

The Future of Digital Governance: Digital cooperation, the IGF, and strengthening stakeholder participation (11 October | 15:45 - 17:15 JST | Main Hall) 

Topics related to digital governance are front-and-center on the international agenda.  Over the next few years (2024 - 2025), several international processes will consider and make decisions with potential implications on digital governance. These processes include the Summit for the Future, including the development of a Global Digital Compact and Code of Conduct on Information Integrity on Digital Platforms, the 20-year Overall Review of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS+20), and the extension of the mandate of the IGF.  It also includes ongoing work at UN agencies like UNESCO, ITU, and OHCHR and efforts inside and outside the UN to define a digital future. And the conversation has recently taken a new dimension with conversations and proposals related to governance of artificial intelligence.

This future looking session will look at how the IGF can continue to support these proposals, as well as be strengthened to provide an inclusive body within the UN system committed to be an inclusive and transparent follow-up mechanism in all matters related to global digital Governance.

The session page is available here