Fourth Industrial Revolution

Navigating the future of digital governance: NetMundial+10 output

NetMundial+10 resulted in the São Paulo Guidelines, which are designed to bridge the gaps in digital governance.

NetMundial+10 resulted in the São Paulo Guidelines, which are designed to bridge the gaps in digital governance. Image: Bruno Thethe on Unsplash

Agustina Callegari
Project Lead, Global Coalition for Digital Safety, World Economic Forum Geneva
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  • A decade after the NetMundial event in 2014, São Paulo hosted another pivotal gathering: NetMundial+10.
  • NetMundial+10 focused on the global challenges confronting digital governance today.
  • The event led to the São Paulo Guidelines, designed to steer us towards a future where the principles of equity, transparency and human rights are upheld in the digital domain.

Last week, Brazil positioned itself at the forefront of global discussions on digital governance. A decade after the groundbreaking NetMundial event in 2014, São Paulo hosted another pivotal gathering: NetMundial+10. This landmark event aimed to renew essential principles and refresh the dialogue on the digital agenda. It did so with a keen eye on Brazil's crucial role as a leader in the Global South and its recent presidency of the G20.

NetMundial+10 showcased the essence of a multistakeholder approach to Internet governance. The event brought together over 400 participants from diverse backgrounds, including government representatives from the US, UK, Brazil, Netherlands and Germany; major technology players, such as Meta, Google and OpenAI; technical experts from organizations such as the Internet Society and ICANN; civil society groups like the Association for Progressive Communications and Global Digital Partners, as well as academics and United Nations bodies and international organizations, including the World Economic Forum.

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A legacy of progress: NetMundial 2014

In 2014, NetMundial emerged against a backdrop of rising concerns about Internet governance. Tensions surrounding online privacy and mass surveillance were at an all-time high due to Edward Snowden's revelations. The need for a forum to address these issues became critical. NetMundial's outcomes, including the establishment of principles for Internet governance and the announcement by former President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil’s Civil Rights Framework for the Internet (Marco Civil da Internet), were significant milestones in shaping the digital landscape.

NETmundial+10 multistakeholder statement: Strengthening Internet governance and digital policy processes

The event served a dual purpose: a reunion and a reflection on the past decade of Internet governance. NetMundial+10 focused on the global challenges confronting digital governance today.

The event culminated in a significant milestone: the São Paulo Guidelines. These guidelines reaffirmed the principles outlined in NetMundial 2014, emphasizing the importance of the multistakeholder approach and offering practical pathways for addressing the landscape of digital governance, including the ever-evolving field of AI governance.

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The São Paulo Guidelines

• The output document reaffirms core principles of Internet governance: multi-stakeholderism, openness, inclusiveness and agility.

• They emphasize the need to equip stakeholders with adequate information and resources, fostering deliberative dialogue.

• Accessibility for all stakeholders is a key concern, advocating for greater inclusivity in multilateral processes.

• Collaboration should aim for practical, actionable outcomes leading to positive changes in Internet governance.

• The guidelines address the challenge of AI governance and digital tecnologies by proposing a framework that emphasizes transparency, accountability and human-centric development.

In addition, the São Paulo Guidelines offer a valuable compass for navigating the complexities of digital negotiations in the coming years. They serve as a reference point for discussions surrounding the Global Digital Compact, the United Nations Summit of the Future and the WSIS-20 review in 2025.

The resulting non-binding document was the result of a bottom-up, open and participatory process involving people from governments, the private sector, civil society, the technical community and academia from around the world. The two-day event was preceded by more than 150 contributions submitted by the international community to the online consultation.

Brazil's leadership: CGI.br and the G20

NetMundial+10 was organized by the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee (CGI.br), a democratic Internet governance model that prioritizes multi-stakeholderism and transparency. This model ensures all sectors of society participate equally in shaping Brazil's digital future.

The event coincided with Brazil's G20 presidency, further highlighting the country's leadership in shaping the global digital agenda. Following NetMundial+10, the G20 Working Group on Digital Economy, led by Brazil, addressed the critical challenge of information integrity, including disinformation and hate speech in the context of democratic elections in over 200 countries.

An ongoing journey: Building a digital future together

As we reflect on the outcomes of NetMundial+10, it is crucial to remember that effective digital governance is not a destination, but an ongoing journey. The São Paulo Guidelines serve as a compass, guiding us through the turbulent waters of digital governance and steering us towards a future where the principles of equity, transparency and human rights are upheld in the digital domain. This ongoing journey requires the active participation and engagement of all stakeholders – governments, companies, technical bodies and civil society. Only through collective efforts and shared values can we shape a secure, inclusive and trustworthy digital future for all.

In this context, the World Economic Forum’s Global Coalition on Digital Safety and the Defining and Building the Metaverse initiatives play crucial roles. The Coalition aims to create safe digital environments by addressing issues, such as online harm and disinformation, and the Metaverse initiative focuses on establishing governance frameworks for the future of the Internet. These efforts underscore the importance of global cooperation in fostering a secure and inclusive digital future.

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