Last week eBay participated in a leading multilateral event on the global governance of the Internet. The Internet Governance Forum, or IGF, is coordinated by the United Nations and takes place once a year, each time in a different city. This year the IGF took up residence at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. The title of this 13th edition was The Internet of Trust and was divided into 8 main themes. eBay was an active participant in 2 of the main sessions that covered each of those themes.
The IGF was opened by two of the world’s top leaders, President of France Emmanuel Macron and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Mr. Macron’s speech made a strong impression as he described the Internet as a “threatened evidence”. Evidence, because there are now generations who cannot imagine a world where the Internet did not exist. Threatened, because it can be fractured by censorship and used against its core values, by serving as a tool of terrorism propaganda. “We cannot risk thinking there can only be two solutions: total self-regulation, or top-down coercive regulation; in other words, the Internet of California or the Internet of China,” said Present Macron.
On Day 2 Céline Saada-Benaben, General Manager for eBay in France, joined the panel Development, Innovation and Economic Issues. This panel gathered top experts on digital development issues and Céline spoke about how the global online marketplace can be an essential development tool for small businesses located in remote areas. 99% of our sellers export into more than 20 countries and, while the opportunity opened by tools like eBay is undisputed, Céline stressed how essential political and public action is in this field, in order to provide SMEs with the environment they need to enjoy that access to global trade. She defended three of eBay’s long-standing recommendations to governments around the world: efficient Internet access regardless of location; fast, affordable, reliable and transparent shipping service; simpler and harmonized regulatory frameworks including customs paperwork.
Day 3 featured Nathalie Biltz Vuaillat, Legal Director at eBay, joining the Digital Inclusion and Accessibility panel. Nathalie took the floor to talk about eBay’s vision on inclusion and accessibility. With co-panelists from regions as diverse as Afghanistan, Nigeria, or Jordan, she emphasized the power of the Internet in erasing background, gender, religion, ethnicity or other traits, and in turning this newfound equality into opportunity of learning new skills for all. “Women entrepreneurship rates are higher in countries with lower levels of economic development,” said Nathalie as she showed eBay’s focus on the support of women entrepreneurs through the program SheTrades launched on the platform a few years ago.
eBay was extremely honored to be invited to this event and the eBay Government Relations team will continue to build on this thought leadership opportunity to convince more policy-makers to promote policies that drive ecommerce participation and inclusive trade.