Opening speeches

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Co-hosts of the summit, WeProtect Global Alliance and the European Union open the event by setting the vision for protecting children from sexual exploitation and abuse online.


Ernie Allen
Ernie Allen

Chair of Global Policy Board

WeProtect Global Alliance

Ylva Johansson
Ylva Johansson

European Commissioner
for Home Affairs

European Union

Joanna Shields
Joanna Shields

Founder & Board member

WeProtect Global Alliance

The summit began with an overview of the size of the challenge of online child sexual exploitation and abuse, and some of the efforts being made around the world to address it.

Ernie Allen, Chair of WeProtect Global Alliance, highlighted the need to raise the issue on the agenda of world leaders. He introduced Ylva Johansson, European Commissioner for Home Affairs, saying her recent proposed law to prevent child sexual exploitation online is a “great example of European leadership in confronting this complex problem.”

Commission Johansson began with a message to children who have been harmed by sexual abuse: “you are not alone,” she said. “This law is your law.” After outlining the size and scale of the challenge, she urged delegates to always keep in mind those who need protection: “someone has to speak for the children,” she said. “So I ask you – raise your voice and speak for the children.”

Baroness Joanna Shields, founder of WePROTECT and Board member of WeProtect Global Alliance, told the delegates “this summit is both urgent and timely” following the rapid acceleration of online threats during the Covid-19 pandemic. She outlined the ever-growing risk posed by new technologies. “There’s no supervision in the metaverse,” she said, urging all technology companies to do more to protect children on their platforms. “Together, we can protect the children of tomorrow.”

This event is only as good as we make it. There will be plenty of opportunities to contribute and build relationships, take what you learn here back to your organisation and make a difference!

Ernie Allen, Chair of the Board, WeProtect Global Alliance

Protecting children online and offline is our responsibility as adults, and my responsibility as a politician. I have tabled proposals that are clear, targeted, and proportionate. That means an obligation for providers to detect, report, remove and block child sexual abuse material; and an EU centre to help these efforts and support the victims.

Ylva Johansson, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs

Read Commissioner Johansson’s opening speech #TurningTheTide on Child Sexual Abuse online

We must prepare for new threats brought by advances in technology​. Tech must actively anticipate and act to ensure data or experiences cannot be used to manipulate, influence, abuse or monitor children​. We need to stop future abuse before it happens.

Baroness Joanna Shields, Founder of WePROTECT and CEO of BenevolentAI
Baroness Joanna Shields 01