Wilton Park Holds Meeting on the Potential of Internet for Development


Wilton Park, a non-profit-making executive agency of the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), will hold  a two-day meeting on “Realising the potential of the internet to deliver global development and prosperity” from April 30 to May 1, 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Mr. Richard Burge, Chief Executive Officer Wilton Park

The meeting will provide a platform for experts from different countries to discuss ways to maximise the use of the internet for development especially in the context of innovation and economic growth.

The expert forum will bring togetherabout 60 participants, including senior government officials, civil society workers, academics and other experts.

The meeting seeks to investigate and deepen the understanding of development opportunities provided by a thriving internet. It also seeks to identify strategies to bridge the digital divide and ensure equitable, safe and reliable access. The meeting will consider what’s needed to ensure strong levels of cyber-security in order to maintain end user and business confidence. It willalso explore ways to enhance co-operation and build trust between states, regional and multi-lateral bodies and non-state actors.

The meeting will attempt to lay out a vision for the development opportunities afforded by an open internet by examining the options and opportunities for the future, the hopes and fears around the Internet and how to maximise the use of the internet as a development tool.

It will also identify the risks that could arise from “getting it wrong”, the blocks and obstacles to the realization of the vision and how such challenges can be mitigated. It will explore various elements needed to promote confidence, build trust and bridge the digital divide in designing a forward looking strategy.

A session at the meeting entitled “Realising the potential: what’s happening?” will discuss various case studies of practical projects, activities and work currently being undertaken in the developing world and that are empowered by the Internet towards realising this potential of the Internet.  It will assess the benefits of such projects and activities in different sectors, including education, health, and poverty alleviation, among others.

The meeting will discuss policy and practical interventions for bridging the digital divide.  These will include the structural changes needed; policy shifts at national, regional, global levels; who needs to do what; how to ensure that the voices of users, including civil society organisations (CSOs) and the global south, are heard in the policy debates; the engagement of users and the engagement of non-users to bring those who are offline online.  It will also examine the responsibilities of donors and the possibility of corporate engagement.

It will also attempt to establish a framework for tackling the impediments and building confidence online by discussing issues of cyber security, hacking, malware, etc. It will discuss how to tackle such challenges, prevent or reduce risks, etc.  It will look at public education about the Internet, its affordability and who needs to do what?

On the issue of  “Improving co-operation and promoting positive engagement”, the meeting will discuss who should be involved in this and how it can be achieved, various forms of alliances that are required or necessary such as state/corporate, ISPs/civil society.

Wilton Park organises over fifty events a year in the UK and overseas, bringing together leading representatives from the worlds of politics, diplomacy, academia, business, civil society, the military and the media. Wilton Parks focuses on issues of international security, prosperity and justice.