Internet Governance Forum in 2023: process, issues, and actors

The Internet Governance Forum is a UN forum for multistakeholder policy dialogue on Internet governance issues. The IGF was established by the Tunis Agenda of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) as a forum for multistakeholder policy dialogue to discuss public policy issues related to key elements of Internet governance. 

In Focus

IGF 2023 Overarching Theme: The Internet We Want – Empowering All People

Main themes (with links to DW resources):

1. AI & Emerging Technologies (See more: AI | quantum computing | metaverse)

2. Avoiding Internet Fragmentation

3. Cybersecurity, Cybercrime and Online Safety (See more: cybersecurity | cybercrime)

4. Data Governance and Trust (See more: data governance | trust)

5. Digital Divides and Inclusion (See more: digital divides | inclusive finance)

6. Global Digital Governance and Cooperation (See more: internet governance | digital cooperation)

7. Human Rights and Freedoms (See more: human rights online | freedom of expression)

8. Sustainability & Environment (See more: sustainability, environment)

See Also:

Mandate of the IGF

The mandate of the Forum is established in paragraph 72 of the Agenda:

72. We ask the UN Secretary-General, in an open and inclusive process, to convene, by the second quarter of 2006, a meeting of the new forum for multi-stakeholder policy dialogue - called the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). The mandate of the Forum is to:

  • Discuss public policy issues related to key elements of Internet governance in order to foster the sustainability, robustness, security, stability and development of the Internet;
  • Facilitate discourse between bodies dealing with different cross-cutting international public policies regarding the Internet and discuss issues that do not fall within the scope of any existing body;
  • Interface with appropriate inter-governmental organizations and other institutions on matters under their purview;
  • Facilitate the exchange of information and best practices, and in this regard make full use of the expertise of the academic, scientific and technical communities;
  • Advise all stakeholders in proposing ways and means to accelerate the availability and affordability of the Internet in the developing world;
  • Strengthen and enhance the engagement of stakeholders in existing and/or future Internet governance mechanisms, particularly those from developing countries;
  • Identify emerging issues, bring them to the attention of the relevant bodies and the general public, and, where appropriate, make recommendations;
  • Contribute to capacity building for Internet governance in developing countries, drawing fully on local sources of knowledge and expertise;
  • Promote and assess, on an ongoing basis, the embodiment of WSIS principles in Internet governance processes;
  • Discuss, inter alia, issues relating to critical Internet resources;
  • Help to find solutions to the issues arising from the use and misuse of the Internet, of particular concern to everyday users;
  • Publish its proceedings

The mandate of the IGF, intially set for five years, and then extended with further five years, was further extended in December 2016 with another 10 years. For more information, see the WSIS+10 outcome document [A/70/L.33, para 63] adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 2015.

IGF inter-sessional activities

In recent years, the IGF has engaged in more intensive and output oriented inter-sessional work, including best practice forums, outputs of dynamic coalitions, and a project on Policy Options for Connecting and Enabling the next billion. Below is an overview of the results of such work:

In preparation for IGF 2021:

For the first year, the new policy network format will kick off with the Policy Network on Environment and Digitalisation and a Policy Network on Meaningful Access.

IGF 2020

IGF 2019

IGF 2018

IGF 2017

IGF 2016

IGF 2015

IGF 2014:

IGF annual meetings

In line with its mandate, the IGF holds annual meetings dedicated to discussions on Internet governance related issues.

The programme of the annual meeting and the general direction of the IGF work is deliberated by the Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) to the UN Secretary General. The IGF Secretariat, based in Geneva, conducts the preparations for the annual event and assists the MAG in its work between two sessions. Even though the IGF is not a decision-making body, its great potential lies in open discussions among all stakeholders on challenges and best practices.

Remote participation systems have become an integral part of over the past years. IGF 2020 took place entirely virtually. The capacity building track, integrated into the annual meetings, has provided an opportunity for all to learn more and exchange their knowledge.

Past IGF meetings: 2022 Addis Ababa (see our IGF Report, IGF daily summaries, and session reports) | 2021 Katowice (see our IGF Report, IGF daily summaries, and session reports) | 2020 vIGF (see our mid-IGF report, final IGF report, session reports) | 2019 Berlin (see our IGF Report, IGF daily summaries, session reports and more) | 2018 Paris (see our IGF Report, IGF daily summaries, sessions reports, and more) | 2017 Geneva (see our IGF Report, IGF daily summaries, sessions reports, and more) | 2016 Jalisco (see our IGF Report, IGF daily summaries, sessions reports, and more) | 2015 João Pessoa (see our IGF Report, IGF daily summaries, workshops reports, and more) | 2014 Istanbul | 2013 Bali | 2012 Baku | 2011 Nairobi | 2010 Vilnius | 2009 Sharm El Sheikh | 2008 Hyderabad | 2007 Rio de Janeiro | 2006 Athens

IGF 2023

The 18th annual IGF meeting will be hosted by the Government of Japan in Kyoto, between 8 and 12 October 2023. The event is envisaged to take place in a hybrid format – with participants taking part in the event with as equal experience as possible, no matter if they are joining on site or online.

A call for thematic input is open until 31 January 2023. Interested stakeholders are invited to submit suggestions that could help the IGF Secretariat and the MAG plan the thematic focus of the IGF 2023 process. 

Regional IGF initiatives

Regional and national IGF initiatives (such as EuroDIG, the African IGF, Canada IGF, Kenya IGF, etc.) have appeared as a result of the global process; they focus on Internet-related issues that are seen as particularly relevant at regional and national level, and many of them also contribute to the annual IGF meetings and the IGF inter-sessional work. In many cases, the outcomes of these initiatives were used by stakeholders to feed into the main IGF, either through workshops organised by the initiatives, or through the direct participation of the stakeholders. This has fostered wider participation in the Internet governance process at national/regional levels; it has given a stronger voice to concerns raised at national/regional levels; and has ensured continuity in the discussions with stakeholders at a global level.

Regional IGF initiatives (active)

2021 Meetings

African IGF


Arab IGF


Asia Pacific Regional IGF (APrIGF)

September 2021 | Kathmandu, Nepal

Central Africa IGF 


Central Asian IGF


Caribbean IGF


East Africa IGF


European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG)

28-30 June | online

IGF Latin America and Caribbean (LAC IGF)


South Eastern European Dialogue on Internet Governance (SEEDIG)

September 2021 | Chisinau, Moldova or online 

West Africa IGF


National initiatives

The IGF Secretariat recognises 91 national IGF initiatives