Multidisciplinary Framework for Policy-Making in the Digital Age

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

The session was composed of two parts: the first focused on governance challenges of new technologies; the second highlighted successful case studies of multistakeholder participation as an effective governance model.

There are various policy dimensions related to an inclusive digital transformation. Ranging from enhancing access to communications, infrastructure, services, and data to the promotion of social progress and inclusion, these were explored in the OECD’s Going Digital project. The project brought together over 20 policy communities, over a period of two and a half years, to develop a strategy for positive and inclusive digital transformation. Ms Molly Lesher (Senior Policy Analyst, OECD) explained that the project, which is accompanied by an implementation toolkit, recognises the necessity of addressing all policy dimensions in order to create an enhancing environment for digital transformation.

Lesher and Mr Safari Nishuti (Parliamentarian, the Republic of the Congo) indicated that digital technologies themselves can also provide helpful solutions to improve policy discussions and foster inclusion of the relevant stakeholders. Nishuti further mentioned the importance of being part of the policy-making discussions, indicating that even if certain actors might not see digital policies as a priority, the decisions will affect them.

Inclusive participation also meant undertaking stronger efforts to connect the second half of the world’s population. Ms Sophie Peresson (Director, Innovation for All, International Chamber of Commerce - ICC) said the private sector plays a crucial role in this. Considering its membership base of over 35 million businesses, the ICC is therefore actively contributing to co-operative policy-making processes. She recognised that different contexts require specific and tailored approaches; however, these processes should nonetheless not be undertaken without the inputs and contributions of all stakeholders.

In the second half of the discussion, dedicated to case studies of multistakeholder participation, Mr Kenneth Adu-Amanfoh (Executive Director of Africa Cybersecurity and Digital Rights Organisation ACDRO) explained that stakeholder groups need to be led by experts who had a very good understanding of the issues. While not disagreeing with the idea of having to break down silos in policy-making, Adu-Amanfoh stressed the importance of creating better networks, driven by expertise, between the silos. Similarly, Mr Olaf Kolkman (Chief Internet Technology Officer, Internet Society), who referred to an ongoing complex consultation process in Canada regarding Internet of Things (IoT) policies, noted that several platforms were created in order to share best cases and guidance on multistakeholder processes and how to improve the framework as a whole.

Mr Lisa Dyer (Director of Policy, Partnership on AI to Benefit People and Society) stressed the importance of managing expectations and interactions between stakeholders - this was key to conducting fruitful and successful policy discussions. She explained how her organisation is putting a lot of effort in bringing together stakeholders from all parts of society.

Ms Zoe Darme (Manager of Governance at Facebook) described Facebook’s new oversight board which will also provide a platform for reviewing company practices. The board, whose membership is not comprised of corporate or company-leaning individuals, will begin its work early next year. Similarly, no government officials will sit on the board. Darme also noted that the decisions of the board will be public and that civil society will have a role in helping the company live up to its commitment by reviewing and identifying areas in which the board or the company must improve on.

By Cedric Amon

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