GENEVA, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) -- Swiss President Doris Leuthard on Monday said partnerships around digitization should transcend national and sectoral boundaries while opening the 12th United Nations Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Geneva.
Speaking in the main assembly hall of the UN, she said events such as the Internet Governance Forum provide an opportunity to transfer knowledge and to place important issues on the agenda of the global digitization debate and explore approaches to solutions.
"Only when new partnerships which transcend national and sectoral frontiers can be created will it be possible to fully exploit the new possibilities of digitization," said Leuthard.
The Swiss president said the "cybersecurity must be dealt with together" and she stressed that this year's IGF in Geneva represents a special opportunity to leverage the wealth of expert knowledge on hand and break down barriers.
In a video message broadcast to the conference from New York, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said "The internet, and new technologies in general, have an immense role to play in helping us address global sustainable development challenges.
"But there is a growing danger that the internet can be used for polarization, division and criminal activity," said Guterres, adding, "We must ensure that it serves to improve the human condition" by bridging digital divides based on "locality, means and gender".
Liu Zhenmin, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, also spoke at the opening ceremony of the IGF of the bridge building role of the internet "serving as an open and inclusive space" that is devoted to discussion and "collation of policy issues".
He said that "to look forward it is necessary to look at the past" and noted how the IGF is one of the most important outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society, which was held in Geneva in 2003 and Tunis in 2005.
"The world has undoubtedly changed since 2003," said Liu noting that people now talk about "information", "digitalization" and "artificial intelligence".
More than 2,000 people, including high-level government officials, civil society leaders, private sector representatives and academic and technical experts, are taking part in the Dec. 18-21 IGF Forum to discuss the impact and influence of digitization on the global economy, the media landscape and the political system.
Its theme is "Shape Your Digital Future," and the IGF says it will devote itself to the challenges of digitization which are penetrating and fundamentally transforming social, political and economic lives.