13 September 2019; Geneva, Switzerland. ‘Many phone calls regarding digital issues will come from your capital and it will be up to you, as representatives of your respective countries, to ensure that they are answered,’ Dr Jovan Kurbalija, head of the Geneva Internet Platform, explained during a policy briefing for Heads of Missions in Geneva yesterday.
Negotiations on digital issues across all segments of the diplomatic agenda have accelerated. Geneva is ‘where technology meets humanity’, and where much of the world’s digital governance takes place.
As Geneva welcomes newly-appointed Heads of Missions from around the world, the briefing, organised by the Geneva Internet Platform (@genevagip) in collaboration with the Swiss Mission to the UN in Geneva and the International Geneva Welcome Centre (Centre d'Accueil de la Genève Internationale - CAGI), provided the Ambassadors with an opportunity to be introduced to Geneva’s digital policy scene, as well as meet and network with established Ambassadors.
Dr Kurbalija explained how digital issues tend to be abstract and difficult to grasp, and explained how the GIP takes a practical and concrete approach in unpacking the main issues being the digital developments. He added that during his work at the UN High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation, more than one thousand mechanisms on digital cooperation were identified and more than half of them are based in Geneva. He described Geneva as an incubator of expertise when it comes to governance.
Ambassador Valentin Zellweger, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the UN in Geneva (@Swiss_UN), explained how ‘digital’ is permeating every discussion that is happening in Geneva, from health, to human rights and climate issues. He agreed that the High-level Panel’s report, which also focuses on SDGs and technology, is an excellent basis for further discussion on how to connect the dots on digital issues. He concluded that Geneva is the place where the digital implementation of the SDGs is possible.
Ambassador Salman Bal, Director of CAGI (@CagiGeneva), welcomed the newly appointed Heads of Missions to Geneva, and highlighted CAGI’s work in helping them feel at home through services to diplomatic delegates, travel subsidies for officials and NGO representatives from developing countries, and housing support services.
The briefing included a 360° tour of Digital Geneva from the Attique of the WMO/OMM building, which enabled everyone to visualise in a concrete way where digital policy discussions take place in Geneva.
View the photo gallery from this event.