Thomas Schneider – Keynote 01 2023

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19 June 2023 | 16:00 EEST | Main auditorium | Video recording | Transcript
Consolidated programme 2023 overview / Thomas Schneider, Keynote

Ambassador Thomas Schneider, Swizerland, President, EuroDIG Support Association


Ambassador Thomas Schneider is leading the Swiss delegation in various fora in the field of digital and internet governance, including AI.

In the past 20 years, he has been chairing several international committees and co-initiated several dialogue fora on national and international levels. He is currently the chair of the Council of Europe’s Committee on AI (CAI), mandated to negotiate a binding convention on AI.

He has been a co-initiator of EuroDIG and is the president of its Support Association, since 2012. He is a bureau member of the Council of Europe’s Steering Committee on Media and Information Society (he was its chair in 2018-19 and vice-chair in 2020-21). He chaired several CDMSI expert groups. He has also been a member of the bureau of the CoE’s Ad Hoc Committee on Artificial Intelligence in 2019-2021. From 2014-2017, he was the chair of ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee and in this role negotiated the compromise among governments and with the other stakeholders regarding the “IANA Stewardship transition”, the biggest reform in the ICANN system. He was a vice-chair of the OECD’s Committee for Digital Economy Policy (2020-2022). He was responsible for the organization of the 12th UN IGF in Geneva in 2017 co-chair of the IGF’s Multistakeholder Advisory Group in 2017. He participated in the meetings of the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, as personal advisor of Swiss president Doris Leuthard (2018-2019). He has also been a co-initiator of the Swiss Internet Governance Forum, since 2013. Since 2003, he has been coordinating the Swiss activities with regard to the follow-up of the UN World Summit on the Information Society.

Video record


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>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: Welcome to Tampere! So nice to see you and to see you in such great numbers. We appreciate that you found your way to Tampere, not a capital but a city which has a lot to offer and what this entails, we’ll find out tomorrow at the Tampere city hall reception.

We are even more glad that you choose to come to EuroDIG over going to the beach at this very nice weather here in Finland, which is something that is not usually expected.

I would like to thank the University of Tampere, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of trans forepatience, ISOC Finland, the local broadcaster and all other cooperation partners for inviting us to EuroDIG and making it happen, to organize the 2,016th European dialogue on Internet Governance in a row here in Finland.

More than 700 people did register, of which half are planning to participate onsite. Let’s see if they make it here.

With these numbers, we would always – liaison statement be at the numbers before the pandemic, which is still something that is struggling.

>> THOMAS SCHNEIDER: I don’t know if this works? Yes. My name is Thomas, I’m also very happy to be back in Tampere. I was here on holiday 15 years ago and we were swimming in the reddish lake in the city centre, you can go to the beach in Tampere, in particular, maybe it is now colder, still, the water, those that want to can have a swim in there. I’m very happy to be back in this very nice place also.

My plane was two hours late, we landed at 2:00 a.m. in the morning and it was nice to see the landscape and the sky and everything.

That was my welcome. Back to you.

>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: Possibly most of you know that EuroDIG is one of the regional IGFs and we’re all working towards the Global IGF this year taking place in September.

The overarching theme of this year’s IGF is the Internet we want. If you ask several people in the world, you will get different answers, what is the Internet you want? Even if the wording is more or less the same to understanding, it may still make a difference in whatever region you’re asking that question. This is the reason why we are here, to get an understanding of what the issues are, what struggles the other stakeholder group, where do they see a problem where my stakeholder group may not see a problem, and I think this is the greatest value that IGF and EuroDIG and all of the national foras can basically deliver to get a mutual understanding of what the problem is.

Only then will we be able to discuss on an equal foot manner possible solutions.

Back to you.

>> THOMAS SCHNEIDER: Some of you may know, and this is just something that I discussed with the colleagues, that the EuroDIG is actually the creativity core, I would dare to say, worldwide, on introducing innovations in dialogue platforms like the IGF, we were, of course, the first ones that started with issuing messages non-negotiated, tangible outcomes from the first moment in 2008, it took the U.N. 12 years until the IGF in Switzerland, in 2017, we were the host country, decided that we would stop the endless discussion and just issue messages, I’m talking about the messages because we had some discussions this year, as you know, the theme is called risk, resilience and hope. So throughout the discussions you have three parts – at least that’s the overall set up – you talk about risks, how to create the resilience and, of course, living in difficult times we should never lose hope. Those are three elements. We were thinking about issuing, putting together the messages, how do this, and we are extremely innovative and decided that we will not just follow a linear text version but since HDML has been invented only something like 34 years ago, that we would also do that step and actually create a metrics so that you can follow risk, resilience, hope in one particular issue, but you will also be able on the website to see all the risks and then all of the resilience, all of the hope elements so we’ll have a matrix like a two dimensional text format for the first time, in the 21st Century in an IGF structure, which I think is a big innovation, and we hope that you will like it and that was my second part. Of course, yes, I need to thank some people that you may not see, but without them, nothing would be possible and this is in particular given the hybrid settings, of course, the Geneva Internet platform where we have others that can’t be with us physically, but she’s managing and her team is managing a lot of the background and Francesco helping us with the messages that are written as you discuss during the workshops and then put together in liaison statement realtime so that we have them ready before we leave here.

Thank you.

>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: Let me just add, that’s why it is important that everyone who participated in the discussion stays in the room also for the last session because when we agree on the messages, you should be with us, you should let us know if this is the message that we would like to send out to the global IGF policymakers and elsewhere.

Now let me thank in particular all of the focal points on our teams that prepared the sessions from the Secretariat’s point of view, I can really say that we witnessed how passionate you all worked on getting the topics up and running. You were the driving force, you were the driver in the process and without your work, nothing would happen here. So we really wish that everyone who was involved in organizing sessions, that your work pays off.


Moreover, I’m really excited that we have quite a number of Finnish contributors to this EuroDIG. It was already said that Finland is among the most digitally advanced countries, so I believe they have a lot to share with us.

Please also pay attention to the YOUthDIG fellows, Andrea Garcia Rodriguez and the team organized two days of intensive discussions already. They will present the messages in the next session and will engage with you in the debates. Please give them a warm welcome and encourage them to speak freely and without fear. For most of them, it is the first EuroDIG and we want them to come back to us.


>> THOMAS SCHNEIDER: Another change to the past, it is that usually we hand over the flag that you see over there from the host, from this year’s host to the next year’s host, unlike the IGF that had moments where it was not possible to already name the next host at the end of the meeting, EuroDIG has always been able to do that. We do have a host this time for ’25 that already – where things are already well underway. The EuroDIG ’25 will take place in Poland, like for the global IGF, we still have some discussions with who exactly is going to be the next physical host for next year’s meeting. I think this is a very good example to see the cooperation between a University, between city government, between different ministries and so whoever is looking – would be looking forward to hosting EuroDIG next year, there may still be a chance, there will definitely be one, we’re just not able most probably to tell you where it is going to be before we leave home.

You will get the surprise a little later this time.

>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: If you would like to speak to us regarding hosting the next EuroDIG, use that opportunity to talk to either Thomas or myself, you will find us during the next three days.

Last but not least, I would also like to thank our sponsors, it wouldn’t be possible to invite you without participation fees to this nice venue. I think that this is something which is a specialty of this community, that you don’t have to pay for participating in a conference, and this is only thanks to the sponsors that are supporting us since many years.


>> THOMAS SCHNEIDER: At the end of this session, if I’m not mistaken, yeah, please talk to your bosses and tell them that a multistakeholder dialogue platform is important to participate with all stakeholders, it is important to prepare it with org teams from all stakeholders, it is important to have a support structure where all stakeholders are represented but it is also important to contribute financially so that this can continue to exist and again this is important and thanks to all sponsors, present sponsors of donors, thank you to the future ones that are not there but hopefully come. With this, I would like to again thank everybody and you will get a little bit of a reception in this very nice light very soon later this evening.

>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: Enjoy the Nordic white nights but don’t leave the room tomorrow morning empty are.

>> THOMAS SCHNEIDER: Didn’t go to bed like the sun doesn’t set, but be there like the sun tomorrow!