[Read more session reports and updates from the 14th Internet Governance Forum]
The number of national and regional IGF initiatives (NRIs) rapidly accelerated from 60 to more than 110 in the last few years. Separate from the global IGF process and working as a mutual enhancer, the UN IGF Secretariat will continue to support NRIs in co-operation with the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and other private partners to strengthen the outcomes of NRIs to be streamlined with the global IGF.
The UN IGF Secretariat is receiving two to three submissions for the NRIs on a daily basis. In order to address the rising growth of interest to create local forums and discuss Internet governance (IG) issues, the secretariat issued a set of recommendations on how to establish an NRI, the NRIs toolkit: How to start your IGF Initiative? The secretariat is also helping NRIs not only with small financial grants, but also with online help, facilitating online meetings, and hosting web services for some initiatives, as mentioned by Mr Chengetai Masango (Head of the UN IGF Secretariat) who moderated the session.
Lynn St Amour, Chair of the Internet Governance Forum Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG), underlined the commitment form the MAG to continue the support of the NRIs.
Then the funding mechanisms and the reasoning behind the funding of these initiatives were discussed. Mr Juwang Zhu (Director, Division for Public Institutions and Digital Government, UNDESA) underlined that the UNDESA will continue supporting the NRIs. Alongside with its partners, the UNDESA has helped the Asia-Pacific Regional IGF (APrIGF), and several national IGFs in the African continent in 2019. Grant applications are going through a rigorous review process and are properly documented at the UNDESA small grants committee in New York, USA. UNDESA will issue a compendium featuring the NRIs and their outcomes.
IGFs of Bangladesh, Armenia, Japan, Nigeria, Senegal, the pan-African IGF (AfIGF), and the South East European IGF (SEEDIG) all stressed the importance of the future sustainable model for the continuation of the IGF and NRIs work. The NRIs stressed the importance of capacity building through courses and IG schools programs, that can educate and empower local communities to impact regulations in their countries/regions. Kenya IGF suggested to establish an NRI portal to showcase important outcomes that NRIs can produce.
NRIs expressed that Youth IGFs are one of the most important parts of NRIs. Providing a platform for youth initiatives opens the door for discussion in the present and the future. Youth initiatives should consider staying within the local NRIs as this will help amplify their messages.
Main NRI donors and sponsors reaffirmed their willingness to continue financially supporting the NRIs. Internet Society (ISOC), the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), RIPE Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC), AFRINIC, Afilias, and the IGF Support Association (IGFSA) are recognising the need for a bottom-up approach to tackle IG issues. Question of how to find funds for NRIs outside the IG ecosystem, especially from the private sector is still open.
In order to get funding and create a sustainable future, NRIs can choose to form legal entities, to make it easy for organisations to transfer funds. Session showcased the Italian IGF’s efforts to re-establish itself as a legal entity. As mentioned by Mr Giacomo Mazzone (Italian IGF) starting this year, the Italian NRI will be recognised as a legal non-profit organisation which was created in a bottom-up manner. It will represent all stakeholders which will be selected from prominent representatives of each stakeholder group.
The session welcomed the addition of recently recognised NRI from China. Organised by the Internet Society of China (ISC) and the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, China IGF will foster multistakeholder dialogue and try to involve the Chinese Internet community to contribute to global IGF outputs. China IGF will enhance global co-operation as suggested in the report from the UN High Level Panel Forum on Digital Cooperation.
To conclude, Ms Anja Gengo (NRI Focal Point, UN IGF Secretariat) noticed that 2020 will be important for documenting positive outcomes, local impacts, and best practices by the NRIs.
By Arvin Kamberi