Dynamic Coalitions - Joint Efforts to Achieve the SDGs

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[Read more session reports and updates from the 14th Internet Governance Forum]

The IGF Dynamic Coalitions (DCs) are part of the IGF ecosystem that work throughout the year on specific issues or a set of issues, including the Internet of things (IoT), blockchain technologies, gender issues, accessibility, local content, sustainable journalism, Internet rights and principles, platform responsibility, child protection, accessibility in libraries, community connectivity, and many others.

In this session the DCs demonstrated how their work is related to certain sustainable development goals (SDGs); what they have already achieved regarding those SDGs; what their plans are for 2025 regarding those SDGs; and what policy questions arise from their work regarding SDGs.

The DC on Innovative Approaches to Connecting the Unconnected (DC-Connecting the Unconnected) has been working on gathering data on interventions from across the world that bring access to people. This data is used for mobilising international finance to invest in expanding connections. As reported by Mr Christopher Yoo (Professor, University of Pennsylvania), more than 120 case studies have been developed based on 1000 worldwide interventions.

Ms Gunela Astbrink (Director, ISOC Australia) spoke of the DC on Accessibility and Disability (DCAD) which is closely related to DC-Connecting the Unconnected and serves SDG #10 on reducing inequality. It has worked, for example, on assessing the accessibility to the IGF for generating insights on accessibility in general.

400 000 public libraries worldwide represent 400 000 existing or potential public Internet access points. Those are the main concerns of the DC on Public Access in Libraries (DC-PAL) which aims to install Internet in public libraries that lack it, improve existing broadband, include them in National Broadband Plans, etc. Mr Stuart Hamilton (Director of Policy and Advocacy, International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) claims they have so far produced a piece of research with over 32 analysis of such plans.

Another DC related to ensuring the expansion of access is the DC on Community Connectivity (DC3). Represented in the session by Mr Carlos Moreno (Association for Progressive Communications), DC3 has been doing research on the best regulatory frameworks to accommodate and facilitate the expansion of community networks around the globe.

Young people are an important but often underrepresented part of the Internet governance ecosystem. Ms Virginija Balciunaite (Youth Coalition on Internet Governance) said that to empower and mobilise young people, the Youth Coalition on Internet Governance has been working year round on advocating Internet governance to the young on a regional level, connecting youth interested in this subject with their peers and older mentors, and by engaging them in leadership building.

Gender equality is one of the SDGs the world is trying to achieve. The DC on Gender and Internet Governance (DC-Gender) tries to bridge that gap through groundwork capacity-building and empowering women. DC-Gender also tries to bring gender discussions very actively to the IGF, as it seeks to relieve girls from some of the burden of fighting against harassment and putting the responsibility on institutions, intermediaries, and platforms, as was stressed by Ms Bishakha Datta (Executive Director, Point of View).

Ms Marie-Laurie Lemineur (Deputy Executive Director for Programmes, ECPAT International) stated that the DC on Child Online Safety (DCCOS) has recently focused its attention on online video games and the environment they create for children. By including voices from different sectors, including young gamers, they have managed to openly discuss the dangers and risks of online gaming, and raise awareness on issues like data protection, harassment, and safety in these environments.

The Dynamic Coalition on DNS Issues (DC-DNSI), which mostly relates to SDG #9, has lately been concerned with the idea of universal acceptance, and on the final objective of achieving a multilingual Internet. According to Mr Nikolis Smith (Senior Policy Manager, VERISIGN), they organise campaigns in various Internet governance venues such as the European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG), ICANN, and MAG Meetings among others, trying to find the points where they could have the greatest success in achieving a multilingual Internet.

Blockchain has been considered as potentially the most disruptive technology of the 2010s. Ms Carla Reyes (Assistant Professor, Michigan State University College of Law) from the DC on Blockchain Technologies (DC-Blockchain) explains that the DC-Blockchain seeks to remind blockchain innovators of the possible ramifications of their innovations, and that without proper critical awareness they might end up creating new centralised platforms on a technology born to decentralise. Apart from capacity-building, they have been discussing the extent to which decentralised organisations might be formally and/or legally recognised as such, and how would they interact with existing institutions

Another potentially disruptive technology is that of the IoT which alone might contribute to several SDGs. Representing the DC on the Internet of Things (DC-IoT), Mr Marteen Botterman (Chairman, ICANN Board of Directors) answered questions on several of the risks involving technology, such as cybersecurity vulnerabilities and the abuse of DDoS attacks, to describe DC-IoT’s work on raising consumer awareness about such risks.

The DC on Internet Rights and Principles (IRPC) mainly works on achieving SDG #13 through their own Charter on Human Rights and Principles on the Internet, which contains 21 rights and 10 broad principles. Ms Minda Moreira (Co-Chair, IRPC) gave the session a brief explanation of some of those principles and rights.

Another coalition concerned with the rights of individuals on the Internet is the DC on Platform Responsibility (DCPR), represented in the session by Mr Nicolo Zingales (Associate Professor, Leeds Law School). DCPR has been trying to move on from some principles, such as the UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights, and reach a shared understanding of how responsibility is to be implemented by online platforms. DCPR has done a survey of the mechanisms available on various platforms and identify best practices.

The most recently founded DC is the DC on Sustainability of Journalism and News Media (DC-Sustainability) which presented the work of some of its members, such as Ms Mira Milosevic’s (Executive Director, Global Forum for Media and Development) work on advocating for the inclusion of free speech among the SDGs since 2014. DC-Sustainability has been co-operating with partners from EuroDIG and other venues to ensure that regulations on Internet content take into consideration not only fighting the negative aspects, but also promoting the Internet.

Finally, one of the oldest groups, the DC on Network Neutrality (DCNN) has been constantly working towards free and open Internet access since 2013. Mr Chris Marsden (Professor of Internet Law, University of Sussex) claimed one of its most significant outcomes was the framework on net neutrality, created to guide policymakers in implementing the principle in their respective countries. Lately, they have produced a map of zero rating around the world.

By Pedro Vilela

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