Dynamic Coalition main session: COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on work of DCs

11 Nov 2020 13:30h - 15:00h

Event report

The session highlighted the need for adopting more inclusive and innovative approaches to connect and empower all segments of society so that no one is left behind.

Representatives from the various IGF Dynamic Coalitions (DCs) shared their perspectives, experiences, initiatives, and the relevance of their work, especially during and after the pandemic.

The need to address societal influences that feed into the gender digital divide was highlighted by Ms Smita Vanniyar (DC Gender). Mr Gerry Ellis (DC on Accessibility and Disability [DCAD]) highlighted that while there are 1.3 billion people with disabilities (PwD), there are disproportionate barriers to Internet access for PwD. He also stated the crucial importance of making hardware, software, content, platforms, services, and media for PwD. He also pointed to the economic costs of not including PwD.

Ms June Parris (International Public Relationship Promotion Corporation [IPRPC]) highlighted the need for governments to adopt a human rights based approach during the crisis to lessen the digital divide.

In terms of the road to recovery, Mr Micheal Oghia (DC Sustainability) expressed concerns on the state of online journalism and the spread of misinformation. He spoke on the need for sustainable journalism which requires a concerted multistakeholder approach and effort. He highlighted the need to continue expanding the discussion on how governments and tech companies can help journalism, both in terms of finance, technical expertise, and policies.

Access both in terms of connectivity and devices was highlighted as an issue in inclusion. Dr Olivier Crepin-Leblond (Chair, Internet Society UK, DC on Core Internet Values [DC-CIV]) further expressed concern over trends of national shutdowns, nations creating firewalls, excessive Internet control, which are disrupting core Internet values. He mentioned the statement released by the DC-CIV on these issues.

Mr Christopher Yoo (DC Connecting the Unconnected) highlighted how their coalition is gathering data of the innovative ways in which people across the world are connecting and overcoming issues of demand and supply. So far they have collected 1100 ways. He highlighted initiatives that connect people such as: UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Giga initiative connecting schools; initiatives in South Africa that provide zero rated educational content and allocating additional spectrum to wi-fi, etc.

Youth needs to be educated on how the Internet works, how platforms work, how their rights online work – and can be protected – is essential and was termed as ‘necessary life skills’ by Mr Gustavo Paiva (Founder, Grupo de Estudos de Direito da Internet, and Youth Coalition on Internet Governance [YCIG]).

To empower the least represented communities; the need to connect people with IG issues and spaces, bring relevant people communities to discuss their issues, to expand the discussions to other issues that may be of interest to marginalised communities.

Ms Valensiya Dresvyannikova (DC Public Access in Libraries [DC-PAL]) shared how public libraries facilitated people during the pandemic by: providing continued public access to public facilities; providing digital skills training and digital content when the world was in lockdown. Mr Stuart Hamilton (DC-PAL) highlighted the need to address existing challenges of public libraries including: licensing environment, technical limits on the number of simultaneous users, cost of e-books, restrictions of textbooks need to be addressed. He suggested the need to investigate e-book pricings and talk about on-device property.

It was agreed that DCs are vital for their intersessional work and help contribute to the IGF processes with relevant information and data.