Francophonie summit: President of the Swiss Confederation promotes Geneva's role in global digital governance

Bern, 20.11.2022 - Some 30 heads of state and government participated in the 18th Francophonie Summit, which ended today in Djerba, Tunisia. Speaking at the summit, President of the Swiss Confederation Ignazio Cassis highlighted Geneva's role in global digital governance and declared his support for the re-election of Louise Mushikiwabo for a second term at the helm of the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF). In Djerba, Switzerland assumed the vice-presidency of the Summit.

Digital technology and diversity were the main themes of the 18th Summit of La Francophonie. In Tunisia, Mr Cassis emphasised the value of La Francophonie as a platform to promote digital technology in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda. Addressing the representatives of the member states and governments, Mr Cassis underscored the critical role of new technologies in improving public services and the lives of the most disadvantaged. Switzerland has made digitalisation one of the four thematic focus areas of its Foreign Policy Strategy 2020–23.

Held under the theme 'Connectivity in diversity: digital technology as a vector of development and solidarity in the Francophone space', the Djerba summit provided an ideal setting for discussions on a variety of crucial issues. Together with President Macky Sall of Senegal, Mr Cassis moderated a panel discussion on 'Digital technology, a priority instrument for La Francophonie'.

Geneva at the centre of digital governance

Mr Cassis underscored the pivotal role of International Geneva. "The large number of Geneva-based organisations active in the field of digital technology, which cooperate closely with universities and the private sector, make International Geneva an ideal breeding ground for digital cooperation and the development of new approaches," said Cassis. As the home of the UN's main European headquarters, the city is a leading player in digital governance. Many of the leading international institutions working on digital issues, including the International Telecommunication Union, are based in Geneva.

At the Village de la Francophonie in Djerba, Switzerland showcased Geneva's advantages for both public and private actors from the French-speaking world. Four Geneva-based organisations that are active in the fields of digital governance (Diplo), science and innovation (GESDA), health and digital technology (I-DAIR), and education and connectivity (GIGA) presented their work in Djerba.

Youth, women and education at the centre of La Francophonie's priorities

The summit was also a platform for in-depth discussions on efforts to strengthen the role of women and young people as agents of peace and development. Because women and young people account for the large majority of the population in the French-speaking world, the discussions centred on inclusion through education and employment. "Education is both a basic right and a necessity. It is the foundation of social, economic and political opportunities," noted Cassis in Djerba. Education and vocational training are among the priority themes of Switzerland's international cooperation. Switzerland is committed to sharing its expertise in this area.

Re-election of secretary-general and new strategic framework

Mr Cassis expressed his support for Louise Mushikiwabo's re-election as secretary-general of the OIF, which is a reaffirmation of the member states' support for the reforms initiated when she took office in 2019. This transformation, which enjoys strong support from Switzerland, aims to make the IOF more agile and effective. Against this background, the OIF's 88 member states adopted a new Strategic Framework for 2023-30.

On the margins of the Djerba Summit, President Cassis had the opportunity to meet bilaterally with other state and government representatives. He had further talks with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Quebec Prime Minister François Legault and Vietnamese Vice President Vo Thi Anh Xuan.

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