The G7 Industry, Tech & Digital Ministrial Meeting was held on 14-15 March, 2024 in Verona and Trento, Italy (the G7 Italia 2024). A Joint Statement on Cable Connectivity for Secure and Resilient Digital Communications Networks was released as part of the Ministerial Declaration.

In addition to others regarding Artificial Intelligence (AI), digital governance, etc, the Ministerial Declaration includes but not limited to the following highlights.

Preventing Internet fragmentation

Building on the reaffirmation of G7's commitment to an open, free, global, interoperable, reliable, and secure Internet,   The Industry, Tech & Digital Ministers (the Ministers) remain committed to preventing Internet fragmentation and addressing fragmentation where it occurs today. The Ministers object to fragmentation of the Internet’s technical infrastructure, which directly undermines the Internet’s global function. We express concern for any proposals that undermine the Internet’s inclusive and global multistakeholder system of governance.

Importance of undersea cables

The Ministers especially reiterate the importance of undersea cables given the growing value of secure connectivity. To that end, The Ministers intend to deepen their discussion on supply chain risks for secure undersea cable networks, including maintenance and repair. The Ministers believe promoting connectivity through undersea cables would benefit G7 economies and societies by improving security and resilience of global communication networks. Therefore, the Ministers support the endorsement of a Joint Statement on Cable Connectivity for Secure and Resilient Digital Communications Networks.

Joint Statement on Cable Connectivity for Secure and Resilient Digital Communications Networks

  1. Building on the 2023 G7 Digital and Tech Ministerial Declaration and the G7 Action Plan for building secure and resilient digital infrastructure, we reaffirm our willingness to enhance cooperation with like-minded partners, the private sector, international organisations, and development agencies to foster the development and maintenance of secure routes of international communications infrastructure, such as transoceanic undersea cables.
  2. Undersea cables transmit the overwhelming majority of international data traffic. Given the growing importance of secure connectivity, in view of their interconnected and transnational nature, we recognise the benefits of developing more secure and resilient global digital infrastructures and call for strengthening policies for supporting secure international connectivity. In particular, undersea cables can strengthen secure connectivity, provide resilient transnational data flows, enhance the quality of research networks, and foster opportunities for new businesses. They are essential to international communications infrastructure as they provide high data capacity, are cost-effective, and highly reliable.
  3. Promoting secure and resilient cable connectivity, maintenance, repair efforts, and vendors, as emphasised in the 2023 G7 Leaders’ Statement on Economic Resilience and Economic Security, could help improve and enhance speed, quality, and security of communications amongst G7 members and beyond, consistent with our shared goal to increase the global diversity of safe and reliable international communication routes.
  4. We therefore share the willingness to explore potential areas of cooperation for secure undersea networks, such as better coordination on technical security requirements.
  5. Furthermore, undersea cables can enhance resilience and connectivity with secure and resilient networks in areas with limited connectivity. This could include trans-oceanic routes also through the Arctic and Pacific regions.
  6. We stress the need to advance research on the economic and environmental sustainability of cable connectivity, taking into account the existing secure and resilient undersea cable networks.
  7. In conclusion, in light of the potential positive impact of undersea cable routes on security and resilience of communications, we emphasise the importance of cooperation on secure and resilient cable connectivity, taking into due consideration the societal, environmental, and economic effects. To this end, we welcome efforts to promote the awareness of the strategic importance of cable connectivity, including in and through the Arctic and Pacific.