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11 June 2020 | 9:30-10:00 | Studio The Hague | Video recording | Transcript | Forum
Consolidated programme 2020 overview / Day 1

  • Atish Dabholkar, The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP)
  • Shamila Nair-Bedouelle, UNESCO (Video)
  • Stefano Fantoni, EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF)
  • Stefano Ruffo, Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati (SISSA)
  • Roberto Di Lenarda, University of Trieste (Video)
  • Vint Cerf, Chief Evangelist, Google (Video)
  • Paola Pisano, Minister for Technological Innovation and Digitalisation (Video)

Video record



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>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: I did not hit the target! We did not hit the target! Actually we were supposed to be in the nice city but the virus made it impossible for us to go there. Instead, we set up a huge virtual infrastructure with a network across Europe that spans from The Hague over Berlin to Trieste. This is a satellite event of the European City of Science, and today we’re proud of kicking off a series of events under the euro science forum. Instead of enjoying the Mediterranean climate on the coast we have built a virtual bridge that spans from The Hague over Berlin to Trieste. This community has vast experience in remote working and participation, we’re entering new territory here, what are the key point for a successful EuroDIG? First, the bottom‑up part is the patience process of organizing the sessions. Second, the interactivity among participants during the session. Third, networking opportunities.

I can assure you the community worked hard to set up the sessions and to make them as most interesting and high‑level as possible to deliver point 2 we have set up the digital infrastructure. We’re not so sure about the networking aspect.

One thing is for sure, EuroDIG itself is amazing network across Europe. We are glad to reconnect with our former host from last year which is facilitating the studio in The Hague. Marjolijn, nice to see you.

>> Good morning!

>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: Just like last year! I would like to ask you, what’s up in the Netherlands?

>> Good morning, from the studio in The Hague. It is hard to believe it has been only a year since we had EuroDIG in The Hague. We look back on the special days with a lot of pride. Unfortunately, this year we’re not able to meet in person. Because without a doubt every single one of us were looking forward to EuroDIG 2020, but huge complements to the organization who are able to manage and organize this entire event online and how unique and fitting it is that a dialect about the internet takes place on the internet and 2021 will definitely be worth the wait.

In the meantime, I’m really looking forward to the next two days and on behalf of the annual IGF, Ministry of Economic affairs and environment, we wish you all inspiring day days.

>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: Thank you so much.

I would like to thank professor Atish Dobholkar for inviting us to the international center of theoretical physics, ICPT. Moreover, I thank him for keeping up the cooperation that we had when we had to take the decision to move online with our event. Mr. Atish Dobholkar. Nice greetings to you.

>> ATISH DOBHOLKAR: Good morning. Good morning!

>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: It is a great pleasure to see you.

Let me ask you a question, what were the key arguments for you to decide to host EuroDIG?

>> ATISH DOBHOLKAR: Fee regimes of all, welcome, online welcome. Let me extend an online welcome to all of you, to the international center for theoretical physics. Of course, I wish you were here in person in this nice city on the sea. We decided to host – it is a pleasure for us to host EuroDIG and because it is an ICPT, they have a duel mission, one, it is excellence in science, scientifically certain at the highest level and international cooperation and capacity building in the developing world through advanced scientific training. If I’m not mistaken, we’re the first academic institution to host this event, further, our mission is particularly important that we have connectivity in the internet, of course, it is a huge role in the development of science and in the developing world and especially important, the internet networks for the end‑to‑end ICPT. I’m excited we were able to hold this, even if online. Those are the motivations for ICTP to host this event.

>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: Thank you. I know the scientific community had participated already in the preparation process. Do you have any takeaways from the preparation process so far, and do you think it will have any impact on what we did during the last month on the work that you do in ICTP?

>> ATISH DOBHOLKAR: It is ironic, a tribute to modern technology that the dialogue of our internet is being held on the internet. In a way it is a challenge but an opportunity if we think about it. Normally we would host something like 400 to 500 people, I was told that registration was over 1,000 yesterday. In a way, this is the new sort of era we have to prepare ourselves. In this context, maybe I would like to add that one of the important aspects, the rest of the world and for us, it is connectivity because, you know, half the world is not connected. This has been brought out even more starkly now during the COVID emergencies. Even though we have this amazing knowledge stream going, available 24 hours now aday, now we’re able to participate in it. I think from ICTP point of view, con tech transferring is an important issue. We have doctors, nurses, students working in Uganda, a woman doctor and student, she’s not able to connect to her advisor here at ICTP because of lack of connectivity. Even though people are available, courses are available, connectivity, it is not as important as it should be. I think if you want to break this knowledge divide, addressing connectivity is going to be most important. Open access to knowledge would mean – would lead to connectivity, the good outcome of that is connectivity.

>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: Thank you very much, professor. We know already hopefully we’ll be meeting next year and I’m looking very much forward to continue with our cooperation and to be able to meeting you next year at the coast.

Thank you very much for joining us.

Have a nice day.

>> ATISH DOBHOLKAR: Thank you very much, Sandra.

>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: ICTP as an organization, institution is supported by UNESCO. Yesterday I had the pleasure to connect with Shamila Nair‑Bedouelle who is from UNESCO and unfortunately, she could not make it today for live welcome. Therefore, we recorded her message. I would ask my colleagues here to play the message from Shamila Nair‑Bedouelle.

>> SHAMILA NAIR-BEDOUELLE: Hello to everyone and tending this virtual conference. This is such an appropriate theme.

>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: This was the wrong message! I would suggest we go first to Stefano Fantoni who is on lean as far as I know.


>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: Stefano, I said already that EuroDIG is a satellite event to the euro scene open forum. I have also two questions prepared for you. Now I can see you.

What have you planned for ease of entry? I know we’re a satellite event, we’re kicking it off, what have you planned?

>> STEFANO FANTONI: Can you hear me now?

>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: We can hear you loud and clear.

>> STEFANO FANTONI: A couple of words, when we decided not to cancel what was organized for July, but to postpone it in September so that the discussions to examine the consequences of the pandemic on science and scientific practice can be explored. We believe that never has there been a more important time for the global scientific community to come together and share expertise in an open multidisciplinary forum as in these times as the COVID‑19 pandemic. It was just to tell you why we have been postponing the event.

Now answering your question, we have continued to have the original format of the conference that will be done from the 2 to 6th of September in the two cities, which will be more distributed from late July to say September. Regarding the conference, there will be full physical sessions and a percentage of about 5%. There’s a percentage of about 40% and full remote sessions, it will be about 55, 60%, that’s for a grand total of 150 session events, including satellite events and online events. This is substantially what we’ll be in September.

I don’t know whether I answered your question or if you have more question to ask me.

>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: I have a lot of questions prepared for you!.

How would you like to see the EuroDIG results feeding into the ESOF activities?

>> STEFANO FANTONI: Look, EuroDIG is – we can EuroDIG as the most satellite event of ESOF. For us, it is very important. In that sense, the results that will be reached during this conference. This is important for the science community and is therefore great importance for ESOF. I call you to the attention, ESOF is the place that scientific community meets to reflect on its practice and place in society. I mean, having said that, I really hope very much that the main results that would be achieved during this beautiful conference may be transferred to our participants in September.

>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: Thank you very much. I hope so too. I hope the continuation of the ESOF activities will continue and maybe we can even reconnect in September when you have the main events and discuss the results of EuroDIG into your forum as well. I would very much like to do so. I think many others that go through the sessions the next two days would be happy to do so.

Thank you very much, Stefano Fantoni.

Now, I heard from my team that we have the right video message from Shamila Nair‑Bedouelle. I apologize again that we got the wrong message up.

I just heard we’re going to go to Stefano Ruffo first. Nice to see you.

>> STEFANO RUFFO: Nice to see you as well.

>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: Stefano Ruffo is from Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati, SISSA. I need to learn Italian at some point to pronounce that properly.

Mr. Ruffo, two questions I would like to ask you, to which extent is internet governance integrated in the curriculum of SISSA.

>> STEFANO RUFFO: First of all, I would like to say not everyone here is named Stefano. One could have that impression from this meeting!

>> (Laughter).

>> STEFANO RUFFO: A few words about SISSA, research and educational institution, funded in 1978 and since then, we have had students, mostly non‑European students and a third of women. This shows SISSA, it is a school, it welcomes students and faculties of all nationalities of any religious belief and ideology and it has inspired the intellectual brotherhood conveyed by the universal language of science. I think this was important to say, to let mow what SISSA.

The issue of interdisciplinary, the issue of the question, it involves not only technical aspects, of course that at SISSA we do not deal directly. We’re mostly focused on basic science. Also social issues. For instance, policies related to principles of freedom, legal issues related to increasing frequent fraud and offenses that are in the support of the dark web, terrorism, money laundering, so on. I have gone through the declaration that was made by Vint Cerf more than 15 years ago which is very much along this line. He stresses that in his declaration that the internet governance is a broad topic. In this broad area I think one can place this contribution, internet governance is not directly related to the curriculum, but the governance, it is part of the common conscience of those involved in research activities which is based on open discussions, open exchange. I’m very happy that there is an opportunity to involve the academic environment into a discussion about internet governance that’s taking place during these days.

>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: I’m absolutely of your opinion, Mr. Ruffo.

How do you think we could build on that collaboration that we established now for next year? Also in particular with SISSA?

>> STEFANO RUFFO: Certainly I think the next actors, the actors for us, it is important for the activity of the research institution, like SISSA as was being said, the importance of networking not only at the prone level but international level, a big problem in the North/South communication and South/North, of course, so I would like to remind, for instance the action of the consortium which manages digital infrastructure, about 15,000 kilometers, and for millions of users in research, education, culture, institutions in Italy, and also the action a network which interconnects Europe’s national research and other institutions. I think both are essential to Europe’s digital infrastructure strategy and also this is the last topic in which myself, I’m sure also ICTP very much is involved in the importance of having a good infrastructure for communication to support open science. This is a way that started in part also from Trieste, there was a copy here of the archive, one of the first database of scientific articles in the world, so we have a long tradition in the spirit of open science and open communication, open data. I think the additional infrastructure related with these activities is very important.

>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: Thank you very much, Mr. Ruffo. I’m looking very much forward to meeting you in person when we come in person. You were so kind to offer us the rooms that we were supposed to be in. Now we’re meeting on lean. Next year I hope we’ll meet physically.

>> STEFANO RUFFO: We welcome you next year.

>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: Thank you very much.

Now I hear that video of the assistant director Shamila Nair‑Bedouelle is ready and I would like to ask my team to just this.

>> SHAMILA NAIR-BEDOUELLE: Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, it is a great pleasure for me on behalf of UNESCO to welcome you to this first virtual session of the European dialogue on internet governance or subtitles, EuroDIG, which is hosted today by The Adus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics, which is under UNESCO. In these unprecedented, challenging, yet enlightening times of the COVID‑19 pandemic, it is impressive to see the over 500 experts here to participate in this indication of the importance of internet and the importance of internet governance with sharing information across the world we have seep ladies and gentlemen, colleagues, scientists, IT specialists from across the world. We have seen persons coming together in an unprecedented fashion. This is very important as we have noticed that besides the physical confinement, internet has opened up all political borders. We have seen the internet without borders during this pandemic. We have also seen the application of science and technology as a vital tool in the fight against COVID and that this science and technology access through the scientists from across the world has enabled scientists to share scientific information and technological data in a manner that’s a demonstration of true solidarity among scientists, but it is also a manner of solidarity in the spirit of open science. Scientists have unraveled with coronavirus with unprecedented speed, they have looked at the information, the genome, other, as well as how to contain the pandemic, this evidence‑based scientific information has only been possible through scientific cooperation across the world. This cooperation would not have been possible without the access to the internet world. This speed of the internet, this unprecedented speed of the internet, it has enabled scientists to embrace the principles of open science, but has enabled countries across the world to access the latest scientific information and data. This timely communication, through the internet has enabled countries across the world to understand in a better way the virus, the pandemic and how to contain it. How does global health threat, it has also affected the socioeconomic dimensions of people’s lives. This has enabled policymakers, the sharing of science and technology information through the internet, it has enabled people across the world to keep going, to be socially connected, culturally connected and to be connected with the world. However, while this internet usage keeps grow, the connectivity gaps continue to persist between and within countries and regions, even in Europe. In developed countries, most people are online and we see almost 87% of individuals using the internet today. In the Least Developed Countries, in the small island developing states, only 19% of individuals are online in 2019. Is this acceptable to date? How can we ensure that there is more effective and urgent action taken by country, by government, by the internet provider to address the barriers that impede the uptick in Developing Countries.

Clog, we’re more and more in a scientifically oriented society. When we talk about knowledge‑based societies today we mean that they’re based and driven by science and technology. Yet globalization, it is creating a new form of discrimination. We have noticed that persons across the world do not have access to this internet services and this global knowledge. How can we ensure that the nearly 4 billion people today who are still offline can tackle the digital divide and access the science and technology across the world for their daily lives from the water we drink to the air we breathe and then the environmental services that biodiversity offers to us. How can we ensure that this internet and this access to the digital Information Society is open to the world? The access to internet, it is critical to democratize the process and open the world. We have seen unprecedented scientific advances and this is also bloated by the pace of the digital world. Transition to open science will allow scientific information, data and outputs to reach more widely accessible scientific communities to be readily harnessed and used by the engagement of all relevant stakeholders. In case, we’re developing a recommendation to what’s open science, and that is sharing the overarching principles and values of a global standard setting instrument intended to promote policies, to facilitate international scientific collaboration and ensure that everyone can benefit from scientific developments and ensure also that no one is left behind.

UNESCO is organizing a series of conferences across the world with scientists and policymakers, as well as the different knowledge stream supporters and the internet priorities focusers across the world. We look forward to the session was EuroDIG to understand how you fit in this process as well. Together with the ICTP we will also host the euro science open forum which would normally – should be held on the 6th of July this year here, we look forward to working with you on how to build into this opportunities and open science initiatives, share your experience across the world.

Allow me to thank you for your efforts in fostering the use of internet as a tool for promoting democracy and peaceful societies. Peace can only be fostered if every Chief Evangelist can access the benefits of the technological revolution. I wish you a fruitful dialogue, construction discussions and I sincerely thank you for promoting the internet governance and ensuring that every Chief Evangelist, every child across the world has access to the internet that you’re proposing and promoting.

Thank you very much.

>> I spoke to Shamila Nair‑Bedouelle yesterday, she could not attend today, she wishes successful regards to EuroDIG.

We stay in the scientific community, the next speaker was not possible to make it in person, it is Roberto Di Lenarda from the University of Trieste that is another keynote speaker and another cooperation partner.

>> ROBERTO Di LENARDA: It is my great pleasure to welcome you to EuroDIG 2020. In the last years the internet has had a key role in several fields and has been crucial from many points of views. The emergency we have had in the past months coronavirus has proven this even more. Thanks to this tool, many professional tools has been carry read out. Nevertheless, it is exception how this situation is widening the gap between who has the possibility of accessing the internet and who didn’t. The same can be said about different countries.

One of the main features of this facility is if worldwide spread, which has been possible thanks to the material nature and mostly the fact that the distributing management and the evolution of the internet, we have assisted with the revolution, for instance, eCommerce has dramatically changed the global market and the way we work and social networks, they have changed how news is given, how people keep up to date, how we communicate and how we are guided in our choices if we do not apply critical thinking. We cannot afford to find the internet as a double edged sword, a great opportunity for all but at the same time, a possible difficult tool to handle considering with our social, geopolitical realities, we firmly believe that universities has been a great user of the internet in terms of sharing knowledge with either place forcing a dialogue on the governance of the internet between different cultures and fields to reflect on the social impact of the powerful tool and try to predict the time and future revolution and consequences. That being said, we hope you will enjoy the conference.

Thank you.

>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: Thank you, Mr. Roberto Di Lenarda.

Without further delay, I would like to announce our next keynote speaker since he is based across the ocean in the U.S., he also sent a video message, everyone possibly knows him, he’s one of the so‑called fathers of the internet, with great pleasure, I welcome Vint Cerf, Chief Evangelist from Google.

>> VINT CERF: My name is Vint Cerf, I’m the chief internet evangelist for Google. I understand that EuroDIG is going to be online in 2020. This is not too surprising considering the current situation with the coronavirus pandemic. It would be worth talking about the post‑pandemic period, what happens after we have gotten through this, perhaps there is enough herd immunity to further the virus, a vaccine was developed if we can take as necessary on an annual basis as we do with other flus, what’s the role of internet and internet governance looking forward? One answer is that the internet has become good with the pandemic response, many organizations, whether for‑profit, not‑for‑profit, educational, the like, they have discovered that a lot of what they do can be done online thanks to systems like Google meet, Zoom, many other products that are now being made available in the online world. What that suggestions, internet may have a more prominent role to play in day‑to‑day operations in addition to the sort of things we all do, sending email, doing searches on Google, other search engines, streaming video, the like.

Now it may actually be integrated more fully into our daily lives which is hard to believe, the Internet of Things is coming, devices that will be helping us work during the course of the day, maybe sensor devices to allow telemedicine to work better, there are all kinds of reasons why internet may be of an increasing importance, not to say that it will be expanding in terms of access, half of the world’s population has access, if we continue to work as hard as we have, maybe harder, the rest of the world will be online maybe even before the end of this decade. That means governance for internet is more important than ever. We need to have a stable internet, one that’s affordable, safe, secure, preserves privacy, performs functions that we need, in a reliable way, and is affordable in particular. To get to that happy nirvana will take a fair amount of work in many different parts of the world, it is not just in the developing world where the effort is needed. In rural parts of developed world countries there’s still no internet access or it is very inadequate, even in downtown busy cities sometimes internet access is not entirely satisfactory. Our governance of the internet is important.

On top of all that, of course, many of us have seen some of the abuses that the internet is used to undertake and as much as none of us like that, we have to face the fact that those abuses occur and we have to do something about it. Since they take a place sometimes across international boundaries it is a signal to all of us we need more cooperation on an international scale. The high‑level panel on digital cooperation that was set up by the U.N. Secretary‑General is an indication of interest that the U.N. in this problem, and the subsequent activities following the report of that high‑level panel are beginning to unfold and all of us should be paying attention to that, especially those of that you participate in EuroDIG. I’m looking forward to what the results of this year’s meetings and what the agenda will be in the years’ ahead. In the meantime, see you on the net.

>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: What would be a EuroDIG without political support? With pleasure, I can announce that the Minister Paola Pisano, Minister for Technological Innovation and Digitalization, is in full support of EuroDIG. I would like to hand over loss her welcome speech prerecorded as a video message.

>> PAOLA PISANO: Thank you for the invitation. I’m glad to participate at least virtually. I wish to thank you that this was not deterred by the pandemic, although under dire circumstances, the first EuroDIG edition which is hosted by Italy, it is taking place online.

Luckily, the next EuroDIG 2021 will again take place in Trieste and we should enjoy in person the beauty of this city. Italy has long participation and contribution to global and European IG initiative since the first IGF in Athens in 2006. Italy paved the way for the transformation of its national IGF into a multistakeholder platform with an open, bottom‑up process in programme Committees, the debate of the IGF community is leading to the drafting of a multistakeholder internet governance association in which the Italian government also participates. The structure of IGF Italy is being presented during the NRIs coordination meeting at the IGF 2019 in Berlin, it is the best practice. Will be further discussed during EuroDIG 2020. Italy has been at the forefront in recognizing the importance of protecting and defending Human Rights on the internet with the Internet Bill of Rights in 2015. The highest point of a long debate that feeds into the global IGF and included a commission of multistakeholder experts and public consultation before it was formally approved in the Italian parliament.

The declaration has been recognized by the Council of Europe parliamentary assembly as well as by the WWW foundation as a landmark example of promoting and defending HRs online.

After IGF in Berlin we signed the contract for the web document, the initiative led by the world web foundation. The crisis shows that internet is an essential resource for our society and economies for trade, health, education. No country could have survived the lockdown without it. The need to ensure access for all and the protection for Human Rights, it has become even more urgent. European institutions such as EuroDIG must continue to evolve to include new communities and pave the way for a governance model that has the multistakeholder of the internet. We have to seize the power of the internet while defending basic rights.

>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: So you see, we have quite a number of cooperation partners this year when hosting EuroDIG as a virtual meeting. This cooperation partner, they’re basically the basis for next year as well.