[Read more session reports and live updates from the 11th Internet Governance Forum]
The open forum started with Ms Tereza Horejsova, Director Project Development at DiploFoundation (Diplo) and the Geneva Internet Platform (GIP), welcoming participants and providing a brief overview of Diplo and its activities related to capacity development, events, courses, research, and publications. Ms Roxana Radu, Programme Manager at the GIP, continued with an overview of the GIP, an initiative of the Swiss authorities operated by Diplo. GIP was created with the aim to serve permanent missions in Geneva (especially from small and developing countries) with briefings on developments in Internet governance and digital policy. It acts as an observatory, a capacity building centre, and a centre for discussion.
Mr Jorge Cancio, speaking on behalf of the Federal Office of Communications of Switzerland - one of the authorities behind the GIP - explained that the GIP contributes to bringing information in a meaningful manner to the diplomats and policy makers in Geneva. He also spoke about the Digital Watch (DW) - an initiative of the GIP in partnership with the Internet Society, which provides a comprehensive Internet governance and digital policy observatory. Cancio mentioned that the DW brings added value in the Internet governance space, providing contextualised content on both abstract issues (such as the connection between the sustainable development goals and Internet governance) and specific processes (such as the IANA stewardship transition).
It was further explained that the DW observatory functions as a one stop shop for more than 40 Internet governance issues, providing overviews of the issues, updates in the field, as well as information on relevant actors and events.
Ms Constance Bommelaer de Leusse, Senior Director, Global Internet Policy at the Internet Society, mentioned that the partnership with the GIP and Diplo for the DW came together naturally, given the capacity development activities of the Internet Society. In the Internet governance space, she mentioned, the discussions always boil down to participation and to the ability of all stakeholders to have equal resources and participate on equal footing. The DW tries to help in this respect, providing not only missions in Geneva, but also any interested stakeholders, with the opportunity to equip themselves with the knowledge needed to participate in Internet governance processes.
It was clarified that the DW includes two other pillars, in addition to the observatory: a monthly newsletter focusing on developments in Internet governance and digital policy, and monthly briefings on Internet governance, taking place every last Tuesday of the month, in Geneva and online. While the briefings cover global Internet-related developments, it was acknowledged that people from different regions might have different priorities. As such, the GIP has been experimenting with the concept of local hubs, which are being established worldwide with the aim of encouraging discussions in local communities and sharing regional perspectives during the monthly briefings. As of now, there are four hubs: Jakarta (Indonesia), Tunis (Tunisia and the MENA region), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), and Belgrade (covering South Eastern Europe). The local hubs join the Geneva briefing online, but also try to use the format of the briefing as an opportunity to bring together local stakeholders to discuss local implications of global developments.
Speaking on behalf of the Jakarta hub, Ms Sindy Nur Fitri, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, noted that the hub has two main activities. First, it summarises highlights of Internet governance developments in Indonesia. Second, the summaries are shared with the global briefing in Geneva, but also discussed locally, within the local community. So far, the hub has served as a platform for local stakeholders to discuss Internet-related challenges in Indonesia, and to try to identify solutions to these challenges. It has also allowed the local community to stay up to date with global developments, as well as to share its concerns with the global community.
Speaking on behalf of the Tunis hub, Mr Hamza Ben Mehrez, Hivos Foundation, said that the hub is relevant especially because it is a decentralised model incentivising the local stakeholders to discuss local policy issues, while trying to link the local developments to the global context. The hub has so far discussed topics of local relevance such as IPv6 deployment and cybersecurity.
Mr Luca Belli, Center for Technology and Society of Fundação Getulio Vargas Law School, representing the Rio hub, underlined that one of the aims behind this hub is to act as an interface between global developments and the local realities. Moreover, the hub has started to feed in regional discussions, by inviting guests from other countries in the Latin America region. This allows participants to compare local digital policies across the region, giving them an opportunity to learn from each other, while also facilitating the conveying of best practices from local to global level. One particularity of the Rio hub is that it is also engaged in the preparation of a Portuguese version of the monthly DW newsletter. The version includes both translations of the articles included in the DW newsletter, as well as content on local developments.
Ms Marilia Maciel, Digital Policy Senior Researcher at DiploFoundation, briefly presented Diplo and GIP activities at the IGF. She emphasised the just-in-time reporting initiative, provided by the GIP, with support from the IGF Secretariat, ICANN, the Internet Society, and Diplo. The initiative aims at addressing the challenge faced by IGF participants and the wider community, both at the IGF and online, to absorb the vast amount of information and data provided in numerous and parallel sessions and other activities. It does so through providing session reports, as well as daily summaries of discussions, and a final report to be made available after the IGF.
In the Q&A section of the session, comments were made regarding the value of the IGF just-in-time reporting provided by the GIP. It was said that this initiative could be further used as a research tool, serving to compare, for example, the development of positions of various actors on various topics, over the years. This, was suggested, could be done not only for future IGF meetings, but also looking at past IGFs. Other comments were related to the usefulness of having the monthly newsletters translated into more languages. Interest was expressed by several participants in exploring the possibilities of creating new local hubs within their communities.
by Sorina Teleanu