Youth in IG policymaking process: let’s talk about the MHLB

10 Dec 2021 14:00h - 15:00h

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We have seen increased attention from the UN Secretary-General to discuss what digital cooperation was and how we can develop a common strategy for the world and for the UN around digital cooperation and what was the role of the IGF in all of that. This led to one roadmap and paragraph 93 says that one of the goals is the creation of a strategic and empowered multi-stakeholder high-level body– the MHLB building on the experience of the existing multi-stakeholder Advisory Group (MAG). The MHLB would address urgent issues and follow-up and relay some policy approaches and recommendations to make the IGF more present in some of the policy-related discussions. The recent debate is how to make sure MHLB does not overlap MAG’s role.

The youth coalition has been contributing actively in the Dynamic Coalitions ecosystem starting from collaborating and supporting the statement on the core values which was signed last year with other DCs.  It describes the story of the Dynamic Coalitions and the achievements and suggestions for the future to commemorate the work done by DCs and how it could fit within the roadmap on digital cooperation and the multi-stakeholder high-level body. Youth is getting more attention and is highly involved in the ecosystem.  This year and last year we have the opportunity to co-organize the youth Summit with the support of the host country and several partners.  But there still is tokenism.  Just having young people on the panel is not enough. Youth are looking for equal participation and that their recommendations be given their due. They want other stakeholders to see them as an agent of change who can participate in equal footing in decision policy-making bodies.

This year’s youth summit was designed to meet this concern. It ran for three months as a project where the youth participants worked in eight groups led by youth experts from youth observatory and Youth Coalition on Internet Governance looking for the challenges in one particular area of Internet Governance.

And the final result of the work was points of action that clearly answer what is the challenge in the chosen field, what is the solution and who could actually help implement it. They will not only put out a report of all the ideas but also deliver them to those who are in the power to implement them for their consideration.  And they hope this trend will continue in the future IGFs.

One of the participants pointed out that another problem in including youth is that there is no talk about reaching new audiences. A handful of people, Universities and institutions are engaged but what about onboarding new members. To tackle this another suggested we create more online platforms so people can participate at their convenience and create internet hubs for marginalized communities in rural areas. Meanwhile the connected ones.

The multi-stakeholder high-level panel does not include youth. So youth need to be recognised as another stakeholder in this level body because this would be like the link between the IGF discussions and outcomes and all the things that are happening in the best practice Forums and Dynamic Coalitions.

Youth also need to be empowered with the right skills to participate at these forums and make meaningful connections.

By Mili Semlani

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