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The National and Regional IGF Initiatives (NRIs) representatives, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) Secretariat and the Chair of the Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) to the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) about the IGF held the third collaborative coordination face to face session to discuss strategies to raise awareness within their specific territories and to establish levels of legitimacy in implementing recommendations coming out of the Global IGF.
The workshop was moderated by Ms Anya Gengo, IGF Secretariat’s NRI Focal Point, who looked at how to enhance cooperation between the IGF and the NRIs along with the NRIs assisting each other and the interaction between the NRIs and the new UN high level panel on digital cooperation.
Mr Stefan Schweinfest, Director United Nations Statistics Division, described his process of affiliation with the NRIs and the overall IGF process. He focused on the key role the NRIs play in facilitating the converting of global priorities into the local arena. He advocated for the involvement of the UN in advancing the discussions with government institutions.
Ms Lynn St. Amour, Chair of the MAG, praised the growth of the NRIs in number and activities and encouraged all members to fully engage in collaboration to deepen the relationship. She also highlighted the legitimacy that the MAG members received through membership certificates, and called for help from the UNDESA and the European dialogue on Internet governance(EuroDIG) in gaining recognition for NRI activities.
Mr Chengetai Masango, the Programme and Technology Manager at United Nations Secretariat for the Internet Governance Forum, echoed the previous remarks encouraging collaboration across NRIs.
Representatives from the Youth Indonesian IGF and the Southeast Asia IGF reported on the Indonesian national dialogue around Internet Governance, which revolved mainly around infrastructure, and asked for support from the UN in the NRIs direct dialogue with the regional governments, through provision of endorsement letters.
Ms Marilyn Cade, President of ICT Strategies, mCADE, highlighted the challenges facing NRIs and advocated for a multi-agency approach to engaging governments, not limiting discussions to the Ministry of Communications. She also welcomed UN support in engaging the business sector to be involved at the national level.
Mr Cosi from Benin spoke about the discussion process with the government, and the requirement for official engagement as an NGO.
Mr Francesco Pirro, Digital Italy Internet, mentioned the challenges of involving government personnel in the process.
Ms Lianna Galystan, Board member of ISOC Armenia, praised the work of the NRI focal point and called for sustainability of that role to bolster networking amongst the NRIs.
Ms SandraHoferichter, the Secretary General of EuroDIG, called on the NRIs to also consider how they contribute to the sustainability of the IGF through clear references of action taken based on discussion within the NRI. Additionally she advocated for a stronger voice on the issues to ensure awareness by the UN panel on digital cooperation, as well as reviews of the recommendations within the national and regional IGFs.
A representative from The Gambia spoke about the issues in shifting private control of the country code top level domain (ccTLD) over to the government.
Ms Mary Uduma of the Nigeria Internet Governance Forum spoke about the acceptance of the NRIs by the West African governments because of their relationship through the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). This is an advance from the initial scepticism where no direct government support for the NRI was perceived.
A participantasked that the NRIs be involved in the multi-year planning process of identifying relevant topics for the community so that the NRIs could take full advantage and align their national and regional agenda to the global IGF.
Additionally a USIGF member advocated for low overhead enhanced coordination among the NRIs so that there is common sight of the work being done.
Ms Jennifer Chung, the Director of Corporate Knowledge for DotAsia Organisation, agreed on the need for an NRI repository and highlighted some of the funding and access challenges some of the members face and how the repository would bridge that gap.
The last speaker, from IGF China, shared the experience of hosting smaller forums, along with practical programs to generate collaboration amongst colleagues.
The moderator recapped the discussion and thanked the NRIs and non-NRI colleagues for the valuable suggestions and support of the implementation of local and regional initiatives.
By Andre Edwards