On 12 June 2023, the first ever Swiss Youth IGF took place, with the support of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. Young Swiss leaders had a chance to meet experts in the fields of AI, cybersecurity, and platform regulation, and learn more about them from both global and Swiss perspectives. At the end of the event, the participants adopted a common youth message that was presented to the decision-makers at the Swiss IGF.
Anja Gengo, NRI Initiative Coordinator at the IGF, said at the event that is important for young people to be included in the conversation surrounding internet governance and have a say in the future direction of this powerful tool. This is where groups like the Swiss Youth IGF come in, she explained. These organisations provide a platform for Swiss youngsters to have their voices heard and make a tangible impact on the processes happening in Geneva. The Swiss Youth IGF can play a big role in shaping the future of the internet for generations to come.
Ayisha Piotti from RegHorizon presented the topic of artificial intelligence to the young leaders. The possibilities that AI presents are truly remarkable. We are at a turning point where we’re able to bring the power of clever algorithms and machine learning to fields that could change our world for the better. Healthcare, food security, and education are only the beginning — there’s no reason why we can’t use AI to help with environmental management, social justice, and much more. Switzerland has a real opportunity here: by exporting its AI innovations, it can help other countries benefit from these advancements and improve their own sectors, while also boosting Switzerland’s economy.
As technology progresses and our world becomes increasingly digital, cybersecurity has become a vital concern. Although it may seem daunting, there is reason for optimism. Through increased awareness and cooperation, we can combat the threat of cybercrime. Pascal Metral, Vice President of Legal Affairs for NAGRA/Kudelski, highlighted the growing professionalism and organisation of cybercriminal gangs. But although their activities pose a significant risk to our security and well-being, we can take action to suppress them and maintain control of the digital realm. As individuals, we can protect ourselves through simple measures such as installing strong antivirus software and avoiding suspicious sites. At the same time, governments and international organisations can strengthen laws and regulations, prosecute offenders, and promote cooperation between nations to effectively tackle cybercrime.
The canton of Geneva is leading the charge for digital integrity, thanks to the efforts of individuals like Gregoire Barbey from Heidi News. This constitutional concept is a game-changer for ensuring that every citizen has control over their private life and data online. With the right to offline life and a justifiable sense of security, Swiss citizens can feel empowered to make the most of their digital experiences.
As global digital challenges continue to emerge, it is more essential than ever to explore inclusive approaches to decision-making. Jacques Beglinger from the Swiss IGF Secretariat understands the power of the multi-stakeholder model and stresses its importance in the IGF — but he also says that addressing digital priorities at the national level cannot be overlooked. For this reason, he is focused on youth inclusion in the IGF, ensuring the next generation has a voice in shaping the technology landscape.