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Youth drives the internet forward

On April 6, the first Russian youth forum on internet governance, Youth RIGF 2021, opened at Skoltech. The event was organized by the Coordination Center for TLD .RU/.РФ and the Competence Center for Global IT Cooperation, with the support of Skoltech and the Center for International Promotion. In preparation since 2020, the forum had to be postponed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The mixed format event, is gathering some 200 participants offline and more than 5,000 are watching the online stream.

Alexander Kuleshov, President of the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, opened Youth RIGF 2021. He read out greetings from President Vladimir Putin: “This platform opened as a much-needed initiative that is to bring together talented and proactive representatives of the younger generation from Russia and other countries. This forum complements the substantial expert work of the Russian Internet Governance Forum and the UN’s global digital cooperation movement. The internet today is an integral part of society; it is fundamental for the development of conventional and emerging economic sectors. It is young people with their fresh and out- of-the-box thinking and creative energy that constitute its essential creative driving force.”

UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Liu Zhenmin also offered his greetings to Youth RIGF 2021 participants. He encouraged all forum participants to use their creative energy to contribute to the development of an open, secure, stable, accessible and inclusive internet.

“Dynamics of the internet is very much driven by youth. Let’s work together to ensure that our world is truly connected,” said Liu Zhenmin.

Vadim Glushchenko, Director of the Competence Center for Global IT Cooperation, noted that it is young people who are to determine the internet of the future. “In the age of the internet’s whirlwind development, it is our decisions that will determine whether this network will work for the benefit of the humankind or if we will witness a live episode of Black Mirror. This event is an excellent beginning of regular youth forums on internet governance in Russia.”

Andrey Vorobyev, Director of the Coordination Center for TLD .RU/.РФ, spoke about the history of the issue and multi-level discussions of internet governance and its aspects. He also noted that technology is an integral part of young people’s lives; therefore, what is currently happening in internet governance at the global and local levels will soon determine all areas of life for the new generation.

“You are a digital tribe. You were born in the internet era and never knew the time when it did not exist. It is time for us, veterans of this industry, to share the baggage of our knowledge, experience and approaches to regulating the online environment. For this transition to be smooth, young people should get involved in internet governance as early as possible, by studying this field and participating in industry events, including the Russian youth forum on internet governance, the Russian Internet Governance Forum and the Summer Internet Governance School. It is an exciting process that opens doors to regional and international projects,” Andrey Vorobyev added.

Forum participants elected a Youth Digital Ombudsman from the list of six candidates whose profiles and campaigns had been earlier presented on the forum website. An expert jury evaluated the feasibility of the candidates’ programs and Deputy Minister of Digital Development Oleg Kachanov announced Dmitry Gulyayev, a third-year student of the Kutafin Moscow State Law University, as the winner. Two of his runners-up will join the ombudsman’s office as well, Alexei Starikov, who is studying for a Master’s degree at MGIMO University, and Irina Trapeznikova, President of the Student Council at the Bauman Moscow State Technical University.

The Youth RIGF 2021 agenda includes such issues as the future of the internet and the development of the IT industry in Russia, statutory regulation, overseeing collection and processing of personal data, internet addition and the impact of the internet on our lives. Coordination Center representatives and audience members will share the results of a special internet governance course taught by the Coordination Center ahead of the Russian Internet Governance Forum. Youth RIGF participants will also release a Youth Message, addressed to the Russian and global internet community, that will be handed over at RIGF 2021.

The Coordination Center’s stand at Youth RIGF 2021 is presenting its youth initiatives such as the Summer Internet Governance School, the Youth Council, the Youth Discussion Club and other activities.

The 11th Russian Internet Governance Forum is opening on April 7. RIGF 2021 will run for three days and will close on April 9. Online streams are available on the website in Russian and English. Do join us!