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The meeting of the National Regional Initiative (NRI) was chaired by Ms Anja Gengo the NRI focal point. The coordination session focused on four questions:
- In terms of NRIs joint work, what worked well in 2017 and what should be the NRIs objectives for IGF 2018?
- Should/can all NRIs come up with a topic of mutual interest for the NRIs joint substantive work for next year?
- What should be the nature of future collaboration among the NRIs and the NRIs and the IGF?
- What is or could be the role of regional and sub-regional IGFs (in the broader framework of interactions between NRIs)?
Before requesting input from the NRIs, Ms Lynn St Amour the Chair of the IGF MAG, praised the impressive accomplishments of the NRIs, despite existing gaps in capacity and funding. Mr Chengetai Masango, IGF Programme and Technology Manager, underscored his conviction that there needs to be a two-way relationship between NRIs and the IGF.
NRIs then shared their experiences and suggestions. Many comments highlighted positive developments and achievements.
- There was substantial praise for Gengo’s work as the focal point.
- The collaboration between various NRIs was noted and it was highlighted that they were able to come together around issues of common interest. Collaborative sessions between NRIs were described as productive and educative.
- NRIs appreciated the good support from the IGF Secretariat and MAG members in listening to regional and national perspectives.
- Various new national IGFs expressed gratitude for the support they received from the IGF Secretariat.
- From the perspective of developing countries, it was very important to see the support from UN DESA and the IGF secretariat.
- The NRI toolkit was described as effective and working well in promoting the multistakeholder model and allowing the IGF to work from the bottom up.
Criticisms and suggestions for improvement were also brought to the table.
- Participants argued that training is crucial for the newer IGFs. For them, it is important to understand the different agencies and their roles (this includes the UN agencies and the IGF multistakeholder model).
- Participants raised concerns about the amount of work involved and the obligations placed on national IGFs.
- Participants criticised a lack of support from national governments for national IGFs.
- A participant argued that there seems to be a problem concerning the legitimacy of the IGF and that at the local and national levels governments seem to find it difficult to accept the multistakeholder model as they attempt to dominate discussions.
- National IGFs should aim to impact national legislation. In order to do so, the visibility of national IGFs should be increased, with the help of the global IGF.
- National IGFs should highlight the benefits of participation and aim to attract new members.
- Concerns were raised about attempts by non-governmental organisations and governments to channel partisan interests through national IGFs.
Collaboration among NRIs:
- Participants raised concerns about the NRI mailing lists and suggested that attempts should be made to refocus them on the core work and to establish separate mailing lists for other issues. They were also concerned about the tendency to bypass the focal point in e-mail communications.
- Participants identified as important the need for consolidation around some of the best practices of NRIs.
- There was a call to develop better mechanisms to consolidate the work of the NRIs to feed into the High-Level Political Forum in New York and other UN mechanisms.
- National IGFs should share best practices for attracting funding and working with national bodies such as telecom providers.
Relations between national and regional IGFs:
- Regional IGFs should be a place for greater collaboration between national and sub-national IGFs.
- Results of discussions at the national level should be shared more effectively at regional and international level.
- A participant suggested that representatives of the regional IGFs should be present at national IGF meetings.
- Participants also stressed that while greater regional collaboration is important, the non-hierarchical nature between national and regional IGFs should be maintained.
By Katharina E. Höne