WEF Annual Meeting on Cybersecurity 2023

Event description

Event dates: 13–15 November 2023

The World Economic Forum (WEF) will hold its Annual Meeting on Cybersecurity 2023 in Geneva, Switzerland, congregating over 150 leading cybersecurity experts from business, government, international organisations, civil society, and academia. The meeting aims to bring forth a safer and more resilient cyberspace by facilitating collaboration.

According to WEF’s Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2023 released in January, the vast majority of cybersecurity and business leaders anticipated the heightened geopolitical tension to be a catalyst for large-scale, calamitous cyber events in the coming two years. Alongside geopolitical instability is the advancement of transformative technologies like generative AI and a brewing economic crisis.

Against this foreboding backdrop, organisations must address the growing cyber risks with strategic systemic approaches and multistakeholder collaborations. In this vein, the annual meeting provides a venue for leading experts to discuss strategies and foster cooperation.

For more information, please visit the official page.

World Economic Forum

Acronym: WEF

Established: 1971

Address: Route de la Capite 91-93, 1223 Cologny/Geneva, Switzerland

Website: https://www.weforum.org/

Stakeholder group: NGOs and associations

WEF is a not-for-profit foundation whose membership is composed of large corporations from around the world. We engage political, business, academic, and other leaders of society in collaborative efforts to shape global, regional, and industry agendas. Together with other stakeholders, we work to define challenges, solutions, and actions in the spirit of global citizenship. The Forum also serves and builds sustained communities through an integrated concept of high-level meetings, research networks, task forces, and digital collaboration.

Digital activities

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is one of the Forum’s key areas of work. Under this focus, we carry out a wide range of activities covering digital policy issues, from telecom infrastructure and cybersecurity to the digital economy and the future of work. We have set up multiple platforms and global forums focused on bringing together various stakeholders and initiatives to advance debates and foster cooperation on the issues explored. We also publish reports, studies, and white papers on our focus areas, and feature discussions on the policy implications of digital technologies in the framework of the Forum’s annual meeting in Davos and other events organised around the world

Digital policy issues

Telecommunications infrastructure

The Forum’s work in the area of telecom/digital infrastructure is broadly dedicated to shedding light on the need to advance connectivity and evolve towards new network technologies as a way to support the transition to the fourth industrial revolution and support the growth of digital economies. For instance, the Global Future Council of New Network Technologies, active between 2018 and 2020, explored, among others, incentives for network development and the role of new network systems in driving value and innovation. The Forum also promotes the role of digital public infrastructures in enabling digital inclusion and advancing sustainable development. 

A specific focus area for the Forum is 5G. We have identified 5G as an issue of global importance and work on analysing the impacts of 5G on industry and society. In our report titled The impact of 5G: Creating new value across industries and society, we note that 5G will be critical because it will enable unprecedented levels of connectivity, allowing for superfast broadband, ultra-reliable low latency communication, massive machine-type communications, and high reliability/availability and efficient energy usage, all of which will transform many sectors, such as manufacturing, transportation, public services, and health. In another example, the 5G Outlook Series: Enabling inclusive long-term opportunities looks at what can be done to ensure that 5G is a technology that benefits people, businesses, and society. The role of satellites in delivering connectivity and the challenges associated with growing competition in Earth orbit are other areas explored by the Forum. The Global Future Council on the Future of Space explores ways in which international cooperation and public-private partnerships can drive sustainable and inclusive use of space resources.

Artificial intelligence

The Forum is carrying out multiple activities in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). The AI Governance Alliance brings together industry leaders, governments, academic institutions, and civil society to shape the future of AI governance. In April 2023, the Forum hosted the Responsible AI Leadership: A Global Summit on Generative AI event, which resulted in the Presidio Recommendations on Responsible Generative AI – a set of recommendations for responsible AI development, open innovation, and social progress. In addition, the Global Future Council on the Future of AI focuses on exploring the opportunities and risks associated with strong forms of AI.  

Examples of publications issued by the Forum with a focus on AI include a Blueprint for equity and inclusion in AI, a briefing paper on Data Equity: Foundational Concepts for Generative AI, and a guidebook on Harnessing the AI Revolution in Industrial Operations

The Forum also explores issues related to AI safety, security, and standards; AI ethics and values; and machine learning and predictive systems in relation to global risks and international security. We publish articles on the need to build a new social contract to ensure that technological innovation, in particular AI, is deployed safely and aligned with the ethical needs of a globalising world. We are also assisting policymakers in devising appropriate AI-related policies. For instance, we published a Framework for Developing a National Artificial Intelligence Strategy to guide governments in their efforts to elaborate strategies for the development and deployment of AI. 

In recent years, AI and its impact on national and international policy spaces have featured highly on the agenda of our annual meetings in Davos. AI is also the focus of dedicated events such as the AI Governance Summit organised in November 2023. 

Blockchain and cryptocurrencies

The Forum works on governance issues related to the equity, interoperability, security, transparency, and trust of blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT). We also analyse the relationship between blockchain and cybersecurity and international security, as well as the future of computing. We publish papers on issues such as blockchain data storage, the challenges blockchain faces and its role in security, as well as guides such as the Blockchain Development Toolkit to guide organisations through the development and deployment of blockchain solutions.

Internet of things

The Forum’s Centre for Urban Transformation explores various issues related to the implications of connected devices and smart technologies. For example, the Council on the Connected World focuses on strengthening innovation and the global governance of connected technologies to maximise the positive benefits and minimise harm for all. One specific area of work for the Council is the security of IoT devices; in 2022, the Forum facilitated a joint Statement of Support on consumer IoT device security outlining key security requirements for consumer-facing devices. In 2023, the Council published the State of the Connected World report, which tracks governance gaps related to IoT. 

The Global New Mobility Coalition explores issues related to sustainable mobility, including when it comes to the governance of shared, electric, and automated mobility. 

Other IoT-related issues that the Forum has been exploring through various publications and initiatives include the industrial internet, the safety of smart home products, and challenges associated with the concept of the internet of bodies. In cooperation with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), we published a report on Realizing the Internet of Things – a Framework for Collective Action outlining five pillars for the development of IoT: architecture and standards, security and privacy, shared value creation, organisational development, and ecosystem governance. 
We also lead the G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance on Technology Governance, dedicated to promoting the responsible and ethical use of smart city technologies.

Emerging technologies

Virtual/augmented reality

The Forum’s Global Future Council on Virtual and Augmented Reality focuses on raising awareness of the positive and negative aspects of the widespread adoption of VR/AR technologies. We carry out policy research and analysis related to the impact of VR/AR on society and its security implications in publications on issues such as immersive media technologies, AR innovation in manufacturing, and privacy in the context of VR use.

The Forum also pays attention to developments related to the metaverse and issues various publications on this topic. For instance, Exploring the Industrial Metaverse: A Roadmap to  the Future provides a framework for discussing steps towards a valuable ecosystem for the industrial metaverse, while the reports on Social Implications of the Metaverse and Privacy and Safety in the Metaverse explore the implications of metaverse adoptions for individuals and society at large. These and similar publications are issued in the context of the Defining and Building the Metaverse Initiative, whose focus is on ‘guiding the development of a safe, interoperable, and economically viable metaverse’.  

Quantum computing

The Forum has created the Global Future Council on the Future of Quantum Economy, which looks into how various actors (governments, businesses, etc.) can take action to maximise the potential offered by quantum technologies. In addition, the Quantum Economy Network offers a platform for governments, businesses, and academia to shape the development of quantum technologies and prepare for their introduction into the economy. The Quantum Security initiative brings together stakeholders from governments, the private sector, academia, and non-profit organisations to exchange ideas and cooperate on issues related to promoting the secure adoption of quantum technologies. 

The Forum publishes regularly on matters related to quantum computing and quantum technologies. A few examples include the State of Quantum Computing: Building a Quantum Economy, Quantum Computing Governance Principles, and Transitioning to a Quantum-Secure Economy.

Cybercrime

Under its Centre for Cybersecurity, the Forum runs the Partnership against Cybercrime project, focused on advancing public-private partnerships (e.g. between law enforcement agencies, international organisations, cybersecurity companies, and other actors) to combat cybercrime. Outputs of the partnership include, for instance, the Recommendations for Public-Private Partnership against Cybercrime and the Cybercrime Prevention Principles for Internet Service Providers

We host a Cybercrime Atlas Initiative dedicated to strengthening coordination between the private sector and law enforcement in fighting cybercrime. 

Cybercrime also constitutes the focus of various studies and articles we have published, which delve into issues such as emerging threats and ways to tackle them. 

Network security/critical infrastructure/cybersecurity

The Forum has launched a Centre for Cybersecurity dedicated to ‘fostering international dialogues and collaboration between the global cybersecurity community both in the public and private sectors’. Multiple projects are run under this platform, such as the Cybersecurity Learning Hub and the Digital Trust initiative. The cyber resilience of critical sectors, such as electricity and the oil and gas industry, is also a focus area for us. 

The Centre also issues reports and other publications covering various cybersecurity topics. Examples include the Global Cybersecurity Outlook; the insight report on Cybersecurity, Emerging Technology, and Systemic Risks; and the Principles for Board Governance of Cyber Risk.

The Forum hosts a Global Future Council on the Future of Cybersecurity, which explores modalities for strengthening cyber risk management across economies and societies. Quantum security and digital trust are among the Council’s focus areas. 

Every year, we bring together actors from the public and private sectors to foster collaboration on making cyberspace safer and more resilient, in the framework of the Annual Meeting on Cybersecurity

Data governance

The Forum has established a Data Policy Platform under our Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, dedicated to developing innovative approaches to enable the responsible use of data.  Within this platform, the Data for Common Purpose Initiative aims to support the creation of flexible data governance models, oriented around common purposes. Examples of white papers published by the initiative include Data for Common Purpose: Leveraging Consent to Build Trust and Towards a Data Economy: An Enabling Framework

The Cross-Border Data Flows project under the Forum’s Digital Trade Initiative looks at how policymakers can advance data transfer governance arrangements while ensuring policy interoperability for data flows. 

The Forum regularly publishes reports and papers on data governance issues such as restoring trust in data, cross-border data flows, data protection and security, among others.

E-commerce and trade and digital business models

Several activities and projects run by the Forum focus on e-commerce and broader digital economy-related issues. Under our Digital Trade initiative (part of the Centre for Regions, Trade and Geopolitics), we have been exploring opportunities and challenges associated with digital trade, while also engaging in the shaping of global, regional, and industry agendas on digital trade. Projects run within the initiative include, among others, the Digital Economy Agreement Leadership Group – which aims to contribute to the growth of inclusive and sustainable digital economies, and the TradeTech project – which facilitates dialogue on public policy and regulatory practices related to digital trade. The Digital Payments for Trade and Commerce Advisory Committee – also part of the Digital Trade initiative – is dedicated to fostering interoperability, inclusivity, and coherent regulatory reforms for digital payments.

E-commerce is also tackled in studies, white papers, and events we produce, which address issues such as e-commerce in emerging markets, the impact of e-commerce on prices, and digital currencies. 

Under the Centre for the New Economy and Society, we bring together various stakeholders to promote new approaches to competitiveness in the digital economy, with a focus on issues such as education and skills, equality and inclusion, and improved economic opportunities for people.

Future of work

The future of work is a topic that spans multiple Forum activities. For instance, under the Centre for the New Economy and Society, several projects focus on issues such as education, skills, upskilling and reskilling, and equality and inclusion in the world of work. We have also launched a Reskilling Revolution Initiative, aimed at contributing to providing better jobs, education, and skills to one billion people by 2030. Projects under this platform include, among others, Education 4.0 (focused on mapping needed reforms to primary and secondary education systems), Education and Skills Country Accelerators (dedicated to advancing gender parity, promoting upskilling and reskilling, and improving education systems), and Skills-first (focused on transforming adult education and workforce skills). Also part of the Reskilling Revolution is the Future Skills Alliance, whose main objective is to facilitate the adoption of skills-first management practices and give workers a fair and equal opportunity to excel in the labour market. 

The Forum publishes regular reports on the Future of Jobs, exploring the evolution of jobs and skills and how technology and socio-economic trends shape the workplace of the future. Other notable publications and tools developed by the Forum include the white paper on Putting Skills First: A Framework for Action and the Global Skills Taxonomy.  

Digital access

The Forum’s EDISON Alliance brings together governments, businesses, academia, and civil society to advance equitable access to the digital economy and bridge digital divides. Part of the Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the Alliance fosters collaboration to drive digital inclusion and accelerate the delivery of digital solutions to unserved and underserved communities, with a focus on health, education, and financial inclusion. It also provides policymakers with guidance to make informed decisions that drive financial inclusions. Tools developed by the Alliance include principles for digital health inclusion, a guidebook for digital inclusion bond financing, and a Digital Inclusion Navigator that provides access to case studies and best practices related to bridging digital divides.

Digital tools

The Forum is also active on issues related to digital currencies and their policy implications. For instance, its Digital Currency Governance Consortium focuses on exploring the macroeconomic impacts of digital currencies and informing approaches to regulating digital currencies. The Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) Policy-Makers Toolkit, published in 2020, is intended to serve as a possible framework to ensure that the deployment of CBDCs takes into account potential costs and benefits. Various publications have been issued that explore topics such as the

Cryptocurrencies

The Forum is also active on issues related to digital currencies and their policy implications. For instance, its Digital Currency Governance Consortium focuses on exploring the macroeconomic impacts of digital currencies and informing approaches to regulating digital currencies. The Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) Policy-Makers Toolkit, published in 2020, is intended to serve as a possible framework to ensure that the deployment of CBDCs takes into account potential costs and benefits. Various publications have been issued that explore topics such as the

Geneva Internet Platform

Acronym: GIP

Established: 2014

Address: 7bis, Avenue de la Paix, CH-1202 Geneva

Website: https://www.giplatform.org/

Stakeholder group: NGOs and associations

The Geneva Internet Plaform (GIP) is a Swiss initiative operated by DiploFoundation that strives to engage digital actors, foster digital governance, and monitor digital policies.

It aims to provide a neutral and inclusive space for digital policy debates, strengthen the participation of small and developing countries in Geneva-based digital policy processes, support activities of Geneva-based Internet governance (IG) and ICT institutions and initiatives, facilitate research for an evidence-based, multidisciplinary digital policy, bridge various policy silos, and provide tools and methods for in situ and online engagement that could be used by other policy spaces in International Geneva and worldwide. The GIP’s activities are implemented based on three pillars: a physical platform in Geneva, an online platform and observatory, and a dialogue lab.

DiploFoundation

Acronym: Diplo

Established: 2002

Address: 7bis, Avenue de la Paix CH-1202 Geneva, Switzerland

Website: https://www.diplomacy.edu

Stakeholder group: Academia & think tanks

DiploFoundation is a leading global capacity development organisation in the field of Internet governance.

Diplo was established by the governments of Switzerland and Malta with the goal of providing low cost, effective courses and training programmes in contemporary diplomacy and digital affairs, in particular for developing countries. Its main thematic focuses are on Internet governance (IG), e-diplomacy, e-participation, and cybersecurity.

Diplo’s flagship publication ‘An Introduction to Internet governance’ is among the most widely used texts on IG, translated into all the UN languages and several more. Its online and in situ IG courses and training programmes have gathered more than 1500 alumni from 163 countries. Diplo also hosts the Geneva Internet Platform (GIP).

Diplo also provides customised courses and training both online and in situ.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

Acronym: UNCTAD

Established: 1964

Address: Palais des Nations, Av. de la Paix 8-14, 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Website: https://unctad.org/

Stakeholder group: International and regional organisations

UNCTAD is a UN body dedicated to supporting developing countries in accessing the benefits of a globalised economy more fairly and effectively. It provides analysis, facilitates consensus building, and offers technical assistance, thus helping countries use trade, investment, finance, and technology to support inclusive and sustainable development.

UNCTAD also works to facilitate and measure progress towards achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs), through a wide range of activities in areas such as technology and innovation, trade, investment, environment, transport and logistics, and the digital economy. It places special emphasis on supporting the most vulnerable developing countries, including least developed countries (LDCs), landlocked developing countries (LLDCs), small island developing states (SIDS), and African countries to build resilience to economic shocks and to achieve structural economic transformation.

UNCTAD’s work often results in analyses, statistics, and recommendations that inform national and international policymaking processes, and contribute to promoting economic policies aimed at ending global economic inequalities and generating human-centric sustainable development.

Digital activities

UNCTAD is particularly active in the field of e-commerce, trade, and the digital economy, carrying out a wide range of activities from research and analysis to providing assistance to member states in developing adequate legislative and regulatory frameworks and facilitating international dialogue on the development opportunities and challenges associated with the digital economy.

UNCTAD also works to facilitate and measure progress towards achieving the SDGs, in particular through (but not limited to) its activities in the field of science, technology, and innovation (STI) for development. Consumer protection, gender equality, productive capacity building, and privacy and data protection are other digital policy areas where UNCTAD is active.

Digital policy issues

Data governance

As data has become a key resource in the digital economy, data governance is a fundamental part of the work of UNCTAD. This is illustrated, for example, in the research and analysis work of the Digital Economy Report 2019, which focused on the role of data as the source of value in the digital economy and how it is created and captured and the Digital Economy Report 2021, which analysed cross-border data flows and development. Moreover, some of UNCTAD’s work on e-commerce and digital trade touches specifically on privacy and data protection issues. For instance, the eCommerce and Law Reform work dedicated to supporting developing countries in their efforts to establish adequate legal frameworks for e-commerce also covers data protection and privacy among the key issues addressed. The Global Cyberlaw Trackers offers information on data protection laws in UNCTAD member states.

Also relevant for data governance discussions is UNCTAD’s work on statistics, as the organisation collects and analyses a wide range of data and statistics on issues such as economic trends,  international trade, investment, development, and the digital economy. UNCTAD’s statistical capacity development activities help countries enhance their statistical and data infrastructures and often address issues of data governance, such as statistical confidentiality, access to data, and privacy protection. UNCTAD also contributes actively to global work to enhance data governance in statistics and beyond and to develop universal principles to guide the collection, dissemination, use, and storage of data.

UNCTAD makes its data and statistics available as open-source in the UNCTADstat data centre. Statistics underpin UNCTAD’s analytical work and are featured in many publications. The UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics disseminates key messages from UNCTAD’s statistics including infographics and UNCTAD’s SDG Pulse offers statistical information on developments related to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In addition, Development and Globalization Facts and Figures publications provide thematic updates on topical issues with the latest number focusing on SIDS. To provide timely information on the global economy and trade, UNCTAD Statistics publishes a weekly Trade and Economy Nowcast.

UNCTAD is also running several projects focused on improving the efficiency of data management for example by developing a plug-and-play system to compile Trade in Services Statistics, its activities in the Digitising Global Maritime Trade project, and by supporting customs operations with the Automated System for Customs Data. UNCTAD’s own statistical activities are governed by the UNCTAD Statistics Quality Assurance Framework, which is aligned with principles governing international statistical activities.

E-commerce and trade

UNCTAD’s work programme on e-commerce and the digital economy (ECDE Programme), encompasses several research and analysis, consensus-building, and technical assistance activities, as follows:

Research and analysis

UNCTAD conducts research and analysis on e-commerce and the digital economy and their implications for trade and development. These are mainly presented in its flagship publication, the Digital Economy Report (known as the Information Economy Report until 2017), and in its Technical Notes on ICT for Development. The Technology and Innovation Report, another flagship publication, highlights the need to build science, technology, and innovation capabilities as prerequisites to enabling developing countries and LDCs to adopt and adapt frontier technologies, including digital technologies.

Consensus building on e-commerce and digital economy policies

UNCTAD’s Intergovernmental Group of Experts on E-commerce and the Digital Economy meets regularly to discuss ways to strengthen the development dimension of e-commerce and the digital economy. The group’s meetings are usually held in conjunction with UNCTAD eWeek an annual event hosted by UNCTAD featuring discussions on development opportunities and challenges associated with the digital economy.

UNCTAD also serves as a knowledge partner to the deliberations of the G20 Digital Economy Working Group on Data Free Flow with Trust and Cross-border Data Flows.

Under the auspices of the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD), UNCTAD provides substantive work on the follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) – a unique two-phase UN summit that was initiated to create an evolving multistakeholder platform to address the issues raised by information and communications technologies (ICTs) through a structured and inclusive approach at the national, regional, and international levels.

To that end, the CSTD:

  • Reviews and assesses progress at the international and regional levels in the implementation of action lines, recommendations, and commitments contained in the outcome documents of the Summit.
  • Shares best and effective practices and lessons learned and identifies obstacles and constraints encountered, and actions and initiatives to overcome them alongside important measures for further implementation of the Summit outcomes.
  • Promotes dialogue and fosters partnerships, in coordination with other appropriate UN funds, programmes and specialised agencies, to contribute to the attainment of the Summit.
  • Monitors objectives and the implementation of its outcomes and the use of ICTs for development and the achievement of internationally agreed development goals, with the participation of governments, the private sector, civil society, the UN, and other international organisations in accordance with their different roles and responsibilities.

E-Commerce assessments and strategy formulation

The eTrade Readiness Assessments (eT Readies) assist LDCs and other developing countries in understanding their e-commerce readiness in key policy areas to better engage in and benefit from e-commerce. The assessments provide recommendations to overcome identified barriers and bottlenecks to growth and enjoying the benefits of digital trade.

UNCTAD’s work on ICT policy reviews and national strategies involves technical assistance, advisory services, diagnostics, and strategy development on e-commerce, and national ICT planning at the request of governments. Through an analysis of the infrastructural, policy, regulatory, institutional, operational, and socio-economic landscape, the reviews help governments to overcome weaknesses and bureaucratic barriers, leverage strengths and opportunities, and put in place relevant strategies.

Legal frameworks for e-commerce

UNCTAD’s e-commerce and law reform work helps to develop an understanding of the legal issues underpinning e-commerce through a series of capacity-building workshops for policymakers at the national and regional levels. Concrete actions include assistance in establishing domestic and regional legal regimes to enhance trust in online transactions, regional studies on cyber laws harmonisation, and the global mapping of e-commerce legislation through its Global Cyberlaw Tracker.

Measuring the information economy

UNCTAD’s work on measuring the information economy includes statistical data collection and the development of methodology, as well as linking statistics and policy through the Working Group on Measuring E-commerce and the Digital Economy, established by the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on E-Commerce and the Digital Economy. Figures are published in the biennial Digital Economy Report and the UNCTADstat Data Centre. Technical cooperation here aims to strengthen the capacity of national statistical systems to produce better, more reliable, and internationally comparable statistics on the following issues: ICT use by enterprises, size and composition of the ICT sector, and e-commerce and international trade in ICT-enabled services.

Smart partnerships through eTrade for all

The eTrade for all initiative (eT4a) is a global collaborative effort of 35 partners to scale up cooperation, transparency, and aid efficiency towards more inclusive e-commerce.  Its main tool is an online platform (etradeforall.org), a knowledge-sharing and information hub that facilitates access to a wide range of information and resources on e-commerce and the digital economy. It offers a gateway for matching the suppliers of technical assistance with those in need. Beneficiaries can connect with potential partners, and learn about trends,  best practices,  up-to-date e-commerce indicators,  and upcoming events all in one place. The initiative also acts as a catalyst of partnership among its members for increased synergies. This collaboration has concretely translated into the participation of several eT4a partners as key contributors to the various UNCTAD e Week organised by UNCTAD and in the conduct and review of eTrade Readiness Assessments.

Market access and rules of origin for least developed countries

LDCs are granted preferential tariff treatment in the markets of developed and developing countries under several schemes and arrangements. Since its inception, UNCTAD has assisted governments in developing preferential rules of origin (RoO). UNCTAD assists governments and regional economic communities, as well as the AfCFTA Secretariat, in negotiating and drafting their RoO. Most recently, UNCTAD’s technical assistance has focused on the implementation of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) 2005 Hong Kong decision on Duty-free, Quota-free (DFQF) market access, and understanding and drafting RoO.

UNCTAD has undertaken extensive research on DFQF and RoO. The UNCTAD Database on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) provides information on trade statistics, rules of origin, and tariff offers under AfCFTA at the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS) subheading (6-digit) level The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System – commonly known as the Harmonized System or HS – is an internationally standardised nomenclature for the description, classification, and coding of goods.. The database enables automatic data visualisation to create a snapshot of the object of interest and matching trade statistics within the AfCFTA tariff offers, and product-specific rules of origin where available.

The UNCTAD Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) utilisation database provides information on the utilisation of the GSP schemes as well as other trade preferences granted to developing countries and LDCs under GSP, DFQF arrangements, and trade preferences under reciprocal free trade agreements (FTAs).

UNCTAD serves as co-lead of the

Consumer protection Consumer protection and competition are jointly addressed in the work of UNCTAD

Through its Competition and Consumer Policies Programme, UNCTAD works to assist countries in improving their competition and consumer protection policies. It provides a forum for intergovernmental deliberations on these issues; undertakes research, policy analysis and data collection; and provides technical assistance to developing countries. The Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Consumer Protection Law and Policy monitors the implementation of the UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection, and carries out research and provides technical assistance on consumer protection issues (including in the context of e-commerce and the digital economy). UNCTAD’s work programme on consumer protection is guided, among others, by the UN Conference of Competition and Consumer Protection (held every five years).

Given the significant imbalances in market power in the digital economy, competition policy is becoming increasingly relevant for developing countries. UNCTAD addresses this issue in the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Competition Law and Policy.

UNCTAD also runs the Research Partnership Platform, aimed at contributing to the development of best practices in the formulation and implementation of competition and consumer protection laws and policies.

UNCTAD serves as co-lead of the

Geneva Centre for Security Policy

Acronym: GCSP

Address: Chemin Eugene-Rigot 2D, CH - 1211 Geneva 1, Switzerland

Website: https://gcsp.ch

The Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) is an international foundation governed by a 54-member State Foundation Council serving a global community of individuals and organisations. Our mission is to advance peace, security, and international cooperation. We provide the knowledge, skills and network for 360° effective and inclusive decision-making.

The GCSP believes that effective and forward-thinking leaders and organisations need to build a broad picture of what is happening in an increasingly connected world. We unravel the intricacies of geopolitics and help leaders develop new skills and the agility to lead in times of tumultuous change. The GCSP creates an inclusive environment for their global community from 174 nations and across sectors who come together to exchange ideas and develop sustainable solutions for a more peaceful future. Building Peace Together through Education, Dialogue, Policy, Creativity and Community since 1995.

 Architecture, Building, Office Building, City, Urban, High Rise, Condo, Housing, Metropolis, Hospital, Apartment Building

Digital activities

The GCSP provides analysis that covers several digital topics, including cybersecurity and transformative technologies. Its executive education is offered online and in blended formats. In response to COVID-19, the GCSP launched a series of webinars titled Global Crisis, GlobalRisk and Global Consequences.

Digital policy issues

Artificial intelligence

As part of its Transformative Technologies cluster, the GCSP looks at AI and several ‘disruptive technologies’; the term refers to synthetic biology, neuro-morphic chips, big data, quantum computing, 3D and 4D printing, brain-computer interfaces, hypersonic technology, and cognitive enhancement. In particular, the GCSP focuses on the dual-use character of these technologies, their potential use in warfare and the future of warfare, and the existing legal provisions among warfare and humanitarian rules in relation to such technologies. Overall, activities as part of this cluster aim to alert policymakers to both the challenges and opportunities associated with these technologies. These aims are also reflected in associated educational activities, such as the course on Transformative Technologies and the Future of Geopolitics.

As part of its Global Risk and Resilience Cluster (GRRC), the GCSP has positioned itself as a thought leader on risks at the nexus of geopolitics and technology. To that purpose, it particularly monitors, analyses, and interprets the impact that emerging technologies such as AI, synthetic biology, neuroscience, quantum computing, and nanotechnologies will have on international politics, geopolitics, warfare, and conflicts. In addition to identifying emerging risks and future trends that will impact international security and warfare, the GRRC also promotes new responses that can be brought to deal with these emerging risks, notably through the concept of resilience.

Cybersecurity

The GCSP tackles cybersecurity issues through education and training activities, as well as policy analysis and events. It also provides a platform for dialogue and exchanges on cyber challenges among cyber experts from the public, private, and civil society sectors. The training and education activities cover areas such as cybersecurity strategy formulation, international law relating to cyber issues, cyber diplomacy, and broader capacity-building initiatives (e.g. workshops and student challenges). Policy papers published by the GCSP focus on the nature of cybersecurity, developing norms in the digital era, international legal analyses, and developing holistic solutions. The flagship course is Cyber Security in the Context of International Security; other bespoke courses cater to public and governmental staff and private and non-governmental employees. The  GCSP’s flagship annual cybersecurity event is the Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge. In partnership with the Atlantic Council, this strategy and policy competition pits over 200 students from around the world in a strategy and policy competition. Teams are judged by experts, high-level policymakers, thought leaders from industry and the public sector (including NATO and the EU), and government representatives. The challenge normally takes place at the GCSP headquarters in Geneva, but in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2022 competition took place entirely online.

Capacity development

Many of the GCSP’s activities fall into the category of capacity development activities. The GCSP offers courses and other educational and training programmes related to the internet and digital policy, such as cybersecurity, transformative technologies, and strategic foresight.

In addition to capacity building through its executive education programmes, the GCSP leverages its considerable intellectual and networking resources (i.e. its fellows and alumni) to engage with communities worldwide and foster trust between regions. The GCSP’s cybersecurity dialogues aim to remove barriers to communication and encourage the uptake of the opportunities today’s digital landscape has to offer.

In partnership with the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), the GCSP convenes a Track 1.5 dialogue process to ensure there is as much communication as possible between parties who are often in conflict with one another. This process provides a platform and a mechanism for the exchange of ideas to build consensus on topics as diverse as international norms, agreement on legal paradigms, and regional socio-economic development.

Digital tools

Several other events organised by the GCSP also have a capacity development focus; one example is the annual Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge, a student competition in international cybersecurity strategy and policy. The challenge was held entirely online in 2022 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the publications produced by the organisation can help inform various stakeholders about the challenges and concerns in the area of cyber governance.

GCSP offers online courses, webinars, and an online dialogue series.

Social media channels

Facebook @thegcsp

Instagram @thegcsp

LinkedIn @thegcsp

Podcasts

X @TheGCSP

YouTube @Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP)

Internet Governance Forum

Acronym: IGF

Established: 2006

Address: Palais des Nations, 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Website: https://www.intgovforum.org

Stakeholder group: International and regional organisations

The IGF provides the most comprehensive coverage of digital policy issues on the global level. The IGF Secretariat in Geneva coordinates both the planning of IGF annual meetings (working together with the Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) and the wider IGF community) and a series of intersessional activities (run all year long). These activities could be summarised in three ‘multi’ initiatives:

  • Multistakeholder participation: It involves governments, business, civil society, the technical community, academia, and other actors who affect or are affected by digital policy This diversity is reflected in IGF processes, events, and consultations.
  • Multidisciplinary coverage: It relates to addressing policy issues from technological, legal, security, human rights, economic, development, and sociocultural perspectives. For example, data, as a governance issue, is addressed from standardisation, e-commerce, privacy, and security perspectives.
  • Multilevel approach: It spans IGF deliberations from the local level to the global level, through a network of over 165 national, subregional, and regional IGF (as of November 2023). They provide context for discussions on digital policy like the real-life impact of digitalisation on policy, economic, social, and cultural fabric of local communities. The IGF Secretariat supports such initiatives (which are independent) and coordinates the participation of the overall network.

The IGF ecosystem converges around the annual IGF, which is attended by thousands of participants. The last few IGFs include Paris (2018), Berlin (2019), online edition due to the pandemic (2020), Katowice (2021), Addis Ababa (2022), and Kyoto (2023), which engaged over 11,000 participants, and more than 1,000 speakers in over 300 sessions.

The intersessional work includes best practice forums (on issues such as cybersecurity, local content, data and new technologies, and gender and access); dynamic coalitions (on issues such as community connectivity, network neutrality, accessibility and disability, and child safety online etc.); policy networks (on AI, environment, meaningful access and Internet fragmentation); and other projects such as Policy Options for Connecting and Enabling the Next Billion(s) (which ran between 2015 and 2018) as well as a number of capacity development activities.

IGF mandate

The IGF mandate was outlined in the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS, November 2005). It was renewed for another 10 years by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on 16 December 2015, (70/125).

The main functions of the IGF are specified in Article 72 of the Tunis Agenda. The mandate of the Forum is to:

  • Discuss public policy issues related to key elements of Internet governance in order to foster the sustainability, robustness, security, stability, and development of the internet.
  • Facilitate discourse between bodies dealing with different cross-cutting international public policies regarding the internet and discuss issues that do not fall within the scope of any existing body.
  • Interface with appropriate inter-governmental organisations and other institutions on matters under their purview.
  • Facilitate the exchange of information and best practices, and in this regard, make full use of the expertise of the academic, scientific, and technical communities.
  • Advise all stakeholders in proposing ways and means to accelerate the availability and affordability of the Internet in the developing world.
  • Strengthen and enhance the engagement of stakeholders in existing and/or future internet governance mechanisms, particularly those from developing countries.
  • Identify emerging issues, bring them to the attention of the relevant bodies and the general public, and where appropriate, make recommendations.
  • Contribute to capacity building for internet governance in developing countries, drawing on local sources of knowledge and expertise.
  • Promote and assess, on an ongoing basis, the embodiment of WSIS principles in internet governance processes.
  • Discuss, inter alia, issues relating to critical internet resources.
  • Help to find solutions to the issues arising from the use and misuse of the internet, of particular concern to everyday users.
  • Publish its proceedings.

In fulfilling its mandate, the Forum is institutionally supported by the UN Secretariat for the Internet Governance Forum placed with the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). Its working modalities also include MAG and most recently the Leadership Panel, both appointed by the UN Secretary-General.

Digital policy issues

Until 2019, IGF annual meetings used to host sessions tackling a wide range of digital policy issues (for instance, IGF 2018 had eight themes: cybersecurity, trust, and privacy; development, innovation, and economic issues; digital inclusion and accessibility; human rights, gender, and youth; emerging technologies; evolution of internet governance; media and content; and technical and operational issues). In 2019, in an effort to bring more focus within the IGF, the MAG decided (considering community input) to structure the IGF programme around a limited number of tracks: security, safety, stability, and resilience; data governance; and digital inclusion. This approach was kept for IGF 2020, which saw four thematic tracks: data, environment, inclusion, and trust. The thematic approach did not mean that the IGF saw some digital policy issues as being less relevant than others, but rather that it encouraged discussions at the intersection of multiple issues. The Geneva Internet Platform (GIP) Digital Watch hybrid reporting (IGF 2023) illustrates this trend, showing that the IGF discussed a wide range of policy issues (across all seven internet governance baskets of issues) within the limited number of thematic tracks.

The leadership panel

In line with the IGF mandate and as recommended in the Secretary-General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, the UN Secretary-General established the IGF Leadership Panel as a strategic, empowered, multistakeholder body, to address urgent, strategic issues, and highlight Forum discussions and possible follow-up actions to promote greater impact and dissemination of IGF discussions.

More specifically, the Panel provides strategic inputs and advice on the IGF; promotes the IGF and its outputs; supports both high-level and at-large stakeholder engagement in the IGF and IGF fundraising efforts; exchanges IGF outputs with other stakeholders and relevant forums; and feeds input from these decision-makers and forums to the IGF’s agenda-setting process, leveraging relevant MAG expertise.

The 15-member Panel with ex-officios meet at least three times a year in person, in addition to regular online meetings.

Future of meetings

Since its first meeting in Athens (2006), the IGF has been a pioneer in online deliberation and hybrid meetings. In addition to individual online participation, the IGF has encouraged the development of a network of remote hubs where participants meet locally while following online deliberations from the global IGF. In this way the IGF has created a unique interplay between local and global deliberations through the use of technology. For hybrid meetings delivered in situ and online, the IGF developed the function of remote moderator, who ensures that there is smooth interplay between online and in situ discussions.

The 19th annual IGF meeting will be hosted by the Government of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh in December 2024. The 2025 host is yet to be announced.

Social media channels

Facebook @IGF – Internet Governance Forum

Flickr @IGF

Instagram @intgovforum

LinkedIn @intgovforum

X @intgovforum

YouTube @Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

International Telecommunication Union

Acronym: ITU, UIT

Established: 1865

Address: Place des Nations, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland

Website: https://www.itu.int

Stakeholder group: International and regional organisations

ITU is the United Nations specialised agency for information and communications technologies (ICTs), driving innovation in ICTs together with 193 member states and a membership of over 900 companies, universities, research institutes, and international organisations. Established nearly 160 years ago in 1865, ITU is the intergovernmental body responsible for coordinating the shared global use of the radio spectrum, promoting international cooperation in assigning satellite orbits, improving communications infrastructure in the developing world, and establishing the worldwide standards that foster seamless interconnection of a vast range of communications systems. From broadband networks to cutting-edge wireless technologies, aeronautical and maritime navigation, intelligent transport systems, radio astronomy, oceanographic and satellite-based Earth monitoring as well as converging fixed-mobile phone, internet, cable television and broadcasting technologies, ITU is committed to connecting the world. For more information, visit www.itu.int.

See also: Africa’s participation in the International Telecommunication Union

 class=

Digital activities

Some of ITU’s key areas of action include radiocommunication services (such as satellite services, and fixed/mobile and broadcasting services), developing telecommunications networks (including future networks), standardisation of various areas and media related to telecommunications, and ensuring access to bridge the digital divide and addressing challenges in ICT accessibility. ITU’s work supports emerging technologies in fields such as 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), Intelligent Transport Systems, disaster management, agriculture, smart sustainable cities, and the internet of things (IoT); access and digital inclusion; the accessibility of ICTs to persons with disabilities; digital health; ICTs and climate change; cybersecurity; gender equality; and child online protection, among others.  These and many more ICT topics are covered both within the framework of radiocommunication, standardisation, and development work, through various projects, initiatives, and studies carried out by the organisation.

Digital policy issues

Telecommunication infrastructure

Information and communication infrastructure development is one of ITU’s priority areas. The organisation seeks to assist member states, sector members, associates, and academia in the implementation and development of broadband networks, wired (e.g. cable) and wireless technologies, international mobile telecommunications (IMT), satellite communications, the IoT, and smart grids, including next-generation networks, as well as in the provision of telecommunications networks in rural areas.

ITU’s International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs) have as an overall aim the facilitation of global interconnection and interoperability of telecommunication facilities. Through the ITU Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R), ITU is involved in the global management of the radio frequency spectrum and satellite orbits, used for telecommunications services, in line with the Radio Regulations.

The international standards developed by ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) enable the interconnection and interoperability of ICT networks, devices, and services worldwide. It has 11 technical standardisation committees called Study Groups (SGs), with mandates covering a wide range of digital technologies:

The work on standards is complemented by short-term exploration/incubation ITU-T Focus Groups (FGs) whose deliverables guide the ITU-T SGs in new areas of standardisation work:

Collaboration among various standards bodies is a high priority of ITU-T. Various platforms were established to support coordination and collaboration on various topics, for example:

The Telecommunication Development Sector (ITU-D) establishes an enabling environment and provides evidence-based policy-making through ICT indicators and regulatory and economic metrics, and implements a host of telecommunications/ICT projects.

In the immediate aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, ITU-D launched the Global Network Resiliency Platform (REG4COVID) to address the strain experienced by telecommunication networks, which are vital to the health and safety of people. The platform pools experiences and innovative policy and regulatory measures.

Discussions involving the World Bank, Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA), and the World Economic Forum identified how to bring together communities to support ITU membership in their response to COVID-19. The Speedboat Initiative issued a COVID-19 Crisis Response:

Digital Development Joint Action Plan and Call for Action to better leverage digital technologies and infrastructure in support of citizens, governments, and businesses during the pandemic.

Connect2Recover provides country-specific support to reinforce digital infrastructures – using telework, e-commerce, remote learning, and telemedicine to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to support recovery and preparedness for potential future pandemics. ITU worked with the Government of Japan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on this initiative. ITU/WHO Focus Group on AI for Health worked on a standardised assessment framework for the evaluation of AI-based methods for health, diagnosis, triage, or treatment decisions and in early 2020 it created an Ad-hoc Group on Digital Technologies for COVID-19 Health Emergencies (AHG-DT4HE) to review the role of AI (and other digital technologies) in combatting COVID-19 throughout an epidemic’s life cycle; it also delivered guidance on digital technologies for COVID health emergency. The Group also developed AI guidance specifically for health on ethics, regulatory considerations, clinical evaluation, and data quality and continues work with ITU, WHO, and WIPO on the Global Initiative on AI for Health.

The impact statement for the Telecommunications Development Bureau’s (BDT) thematic priority on Network and Digital Infrastructure is ‘Reliable connectivity to everyone’.

ITU-D SG1 also focuses on various aspects related to telecommunications infrastructure, in particular, Question 1/1 on ‘Strategies and policies for the deployment of broadband in developing countries’;   Question   2/1 on ‘Strategies, policies, regulations, and methods of migration and adoption of digital broadcasting and implementation of new services’; Question 4/1 on ‘Economic aspects of national telecommunications/ICTs’; Question 5/1 on ‘Telecommunications/ICTs for rural and remote areas’; Question 6/1 on ‘Consumer information, protection and rights’; and Question 5/2 on ‘Adoption of telecommunications/ICTs and improving digital skills’.

5G

ITU plays a key role in managing the radio spectrum and developing international standards for 5G networks, devices, and services, within the framework of the so-called IMT-2020 activities. ITU-R SGs together with the mobile broadband industry and a wide range of stakeholders established the 5G standards.

The activities include the organisation of intergovernmental and multistakeholder dialogues, and the development and implementation of standards and regulations to ensure that 5G networks are secure, interoperable, and operate without interference.

ITU-T is playing a similar convening role for the technologies and architectures of non-radio elements of 5G systems. For example, ITU standards address 5G transport, with Passive Optical Network (PON), Carrier Ethernet, and Optical Transport Network (OTN), among the technologies standardised by ITU-T expected to support 5G systems. ITU  standards for 5G  networking address topics including network virtualisation, network orchestration and management, and fixed-mobile convergence. ITU standards also address ML for 5G and future networks, the environmental requirements of 5G, security and trust in 5G, and the assessment of 5G quality of service (QoS) and quality of experience (QoE).

Satellite

ITU-R manages the coordination, notification, and recording of frequency assignments for space systems, including their associated earth stations. Its main role is to process and publish data and carry out the examination of frequency assignment notices submitted by administrations towards their eventual recording in the Master International Frequency Register.

ITU-R also develops and manages space-related assignment or allotment plans and provides mechanisms for the development of new satellite services by determining how to optimise the use of available and suitable orbital resources.

Currently, the rapid pace of satellite innovation is driving an increase in the deployment of non-geostationary satellite systems (NGSO). With the availability of launch vehicles capable of supporting multiple satellite launches, mega-constellations consisting of hundreds to thousands of spacecraft are becoming a popular solution for global telecommunications.

To this end, during the 2019 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-19), ITU established regulatory procedures for the deployment of NGSO systems, including mega-constellations in low Earth orbit.

Regarding climate change, satellite data today is an indispensable input for weather prediction models and forecast systems used to produce safety warnings and other information in support of public and private decision-making.

ITU develops international standards contributing to the environmental sustainability of the ICT sector, as well as other industry sectors applying ICTs assembling technologies to increase efficiency and innovate their service offer. The latest ITU standards in this domain address sustainable power-feeding solutions for IMT-2020/5G networks, energy-efficient data centres capitalising on big data and AI, and smart energy management for telecom base stations.

Skip to content