Shaping the future of internet governance

9 Dec 2016 12:30h - 14:00h

Event report

[Read more session reports and live updates from the 11th Internet Governance Forum]

This main session organised by many experts, enabled discussions about the Internet ecosystem by different generations of Internet leaders. Young Internet leaders met old ones and shared experiences and challenges on Internet Governance (IG). Each continent was represented by one young leader and one pioneer.

The moderator, Mr Harmut Glasser, Executive Secretary of the Brazilian Board, said the goal of the session is to prompt conversation between young generations, newcomers and Internet stakeholders who have been around since the beginning, about the challenges of IG, especially youth involvement.

Each pair involving a young person and an old Internet leader were involved in discussions as shown below:

Mr Vint Cerf,  Google’s Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist and Ms Grace Abuhamad, Digital Economy Policy at US Department of Commerce.  Grace inquired whether young people were the  ‘trouble-makers’ in IGF, and Cerf said – yes – because they always try something new and something different, and so they are those who make the Internet happen. He added that young people will add value to IGF. Grace asked about the great moments in the history of the Internet, and Cerf replied that great moments are moments when things work. He continued that this happened on 22 November 1977 when they succeeded in connecting many networks together for the first time; then in 1983 when they turned on the Internet; and also in 1988 – when the Internet became commercial, making it sustainable. He stated that the recent transition of ICANN is also a great moment. Grace asked whether it is necessary to form a youth stakeholder group when they can fit into existing groups, and Cerf replied that his interest is on problem solving and that a problem can be presented to a multistakeholder group for a solution when need be.

Ms Anriette Esterhuysen, Executive Director of the Association for Progressive Communication, and Mr Florian Daniel, 20 year old student from Austria, where he is working with the local community to set up youth IGFs.  Florian asked whether young people can actively influence IG, given the volume of knowledge that must be mastered before one can engage actively, and Esterhuysen replied that they encourage youths to come and be exposed to IGF, acquire knowledge, learn and after some time they will be able to influence the process. She added that engaging locally can better prepare them for global participation.

Prof. Hiroshi Esaki, Graduate School of Information Science and Technology at the University of Tokyo, and Mr Ephraim Kenyanito, legal researcher and policy analyst, Kenya. Kenyanito was interested in the importance of documentation to better inform technical and policy decisions in future, and Hiroshi replied that capacity building of young people is necessary and the idea is to look forward to the future because after graduation, youths become colleagues and they need a common language based on past experience to participate in IGF.

Mr Raul Echeberria, Internet Society’s Vice President of Global Engagement, and Ms Bianca Ho, Director of International Relations of DotKids Foundation. Ho asked how youths can be made to participate at the same level like pioneers, and Echeberria replied that youth programmes offer courses to prepare youths for IGF and they should be supported by pioneers to engage in meaningful participation. Ho added that online participation could also be a good training ground for youths.

Mr Stefano Trumpy, President, Italian chapter of the Internet Society, and Ms Kimberly Anastacio, Masters student in political science at the University of Brazil, discussed how to create a synergy between the two groups of people, and it was concluded that the inclusion of youths in IGF should be doubled.

The session ended with questions from the audience, some expressing concern about the many lies on the Internet, and the answer was that other media, such as newspapers have an equal amount of lies.

by Foncham Denis Doh, Internet Society Cameroon