Strengthening the IGF - the German Community Invites to a Discussion

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Session ID
OF 10

[Read more session reports and live updates from the 13th Internet Governance Forum]

IGF2019 will take place in Berlin, Germany, and the host used this current IGF to disseminate plans and collect inputs to shape the event. The session featured speakers from the German government, organisers of the IGF-D, the private sector, and the UN. Next year, the IGF should more prominently involve the private sector and governments and bring additional funds for the involvement of participants from developing countries. It should not be a one-off event, but a full year process

The German IGF community, organised an open forum on the possibilities to strengthen the IGF further. 

Mr Rudolf Gridl, German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs, announced that the Berlin IGF will take place from 25 to 29 November 2019. This session was intended to shape the event. Germany sees the IGF as an intersectional process that is not a one-time event, but that will continue for a full one year, starting right after this IGF. Many intersectional activities and events will occur on the road there. 

Mr Wolfram von Heynitz, German Federal Foreign Office, stressed that close co-operation with French counterparts will create continuity between Geneva through Paris to Berlin. Coordination is essential. He mentioned the Freedom Online Coalition yearly conference that will take place in Berlin later this month. Germany wants to focus on developing new ideas for freedom online and use this opportunity to link with the UN High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, in close co-operation with the IGF. 

Ms Daniela Brönstrup,German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs, encouraged the IGF to raise awareness within the broader public. It is in fact part of its mandate and its efforts need to be improved. Certain groups require better representation and all stakeholders around the world need inclusion. The private sector should be involved more prominently, especially German small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). The German federal government applied to host the 2019 IGF because they truly believe in the IGF multistakeholder process. 

Ms Lorena Palasi, Coordinator of the German IGF, related that the German IGF appreciated the many stakeholder groups that are part of the process to renew the Internet governance process. She stated that many high-level members across stakeholders have a true team culture. Government and parliamentarians were discussing the agenda and structure on an equal footing. 

Mr Wolfgang Kleinwächter, Member of the Scientific Community and IGF-D, clarified that the IGF is a global and national process. The majority of governments do not want a negotiation body, they want a place for discussion. It is extremely important to have discussions, but some distribution mechanism should be in place between discussions and practical decision-making. Nobody wants the IGF to become a negotiation body, but the idea of producing messages, for instance, is the next very good step. Messages from the current IGF could be discussed in Berlin next year. 

Mr Michael Rotert, Eco and IGF-D, reviewed the European IGF process and said that the business community believes in the trend the IGF has adopted, so that some clear results arise from the forum. The IGF started as a debate club, but now it is increasingly relevant for the business world. Business wants to see longer-term projects, going beyond IGF2019 – this is necessary. 

Ms Lynn St Amour, Chair of the MAG, President and CEO of Internet-Matters, expressed thanks to the German government for acting with foresight with preparations of the next IGF. She is especially pleased about the additional funds made available for developing countries and appreciates that this is a priority. Putting governments and the private sector in focus is also a step in the right direction. She acknowledged room for improvements, including a better website for the IGF. 

Mr Jörg Schweiger, DENIC, presented the Internet Governance Rada, a resource for informed participation in Internet governance, with a comprehensive overview of issues and actors.

Mr Paul Fehlinger, Secretariat of the Internet and Jurisdiction Project (I&J), is happy that the German government is a partner of the upcoming I&J conference in June. Almost 300 senior level experts are expected to attend. It will be the third conference of this project. It is a multistakeholder project that addresses the cross-border nature of the Internet in developing policy standards and in finding solutions. 

Mr Antoine Vergne, Missions Publiques: Bringing Citizens Into Politics, described the objectives of his initiative: to explore the evolution that should be brought to global governance for the benefit of people. The Paris Peace Forum has improvement of governance at its heart and realises the emergent need to narrow the gap between citizens and decision-makers. He proposed to experiment together decision-making inside the community of stakeholders when expertise of non-experts is included in the global citizen debate. 

Mr Vladimir Radunovic, DiploFoundation, contributed to the Question and Answer session by appreciating the focus on developing countries’ representation. Bringing people is not enough, he added; comprehensive capacity development programmes combined with fellowships are needed. In addition, remote participation needs to be improved. 


By Tereza Horejsova

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