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Internet Governance 3 November 2015

The First Armenian Internet Governance Forum: The Lessons Learnt

Maarit Palovirta
By Maarit PalovirtaFormer Senior Manager, Regional Affairs Europe

The ISOC Armenia, together with international and local partners, hosted the first-ever national IGF in Yerevan last month. The event was overwhelmingly successful, attracting some 200 participants from the local and regional Internet communities.

Several members of the Armenian chapter are well plugged in with the global Internet community and frequent visitors to global Internet governance events, which certainly made it easier to draft a compelling agenda and to attract international sponsors and participants. However, one cannot underestimate the time and effort it takes to organise a gathering.

 We would like to share the top three lessons learnt from the Armenian IGF experience:

1. Multistakeholderism

The ISOC family strongly defends and believes in multistakeholderism in Internet governance. But it is not always easy to effectively implement multistakeholderism with limited resources. ISOC Armenia engaged the Ministry of Transport and Communication and local businesses from the very beginning on a partnership basis. This meant that these partners took over the organisation of certain sessions and provided speakers or moderators across the agenda. Also, the Ministry and local businesses facilitated the invitation process within their respective communities. Of overall participants, 30% were from the private sector, 18% from civil society, 17% from the technical community, 8% government, 8% academia, and 19% did not mention their affiliation.

2. Regional best practices

ISOC Armenia together with its international partners invited regional stakeholders from government, business, civil society and technical community to attend the ArmIGF. During the event, we heard views from Georgia, Russia, Serbia and Kyrgyzstan on various policy and development questions related to the Internet. The regional stakeholders discussed a possibility to create an educational platform to facilitate the exchange of practical experiences on common challenges such as security. Sharing best practices can help identify regional synergies and ultimately accelerate Internet development.

3. Maximising resources

Starting an event from scratch can be a daunting experience – it requires a budget, people and time! ISOC Armenia secured external funding from various sources:

ISOC Armenia is one of the few ISOC chapters with dedicated staff.  To be fully staffed for the IGF, the chapter team launched an informal Facebook group to recruit interested students as volunteers. This campaign worked and seven enthusiastic youngsters helped during the event. Afterwards, 3 of them became members of ISOC Armenia. The challenge will be to make this effort at least partially self-sustaining over the following years.

Lianna Galstyan from the Armenian ISOC chapter will share further insights to the Armenian IGF at the global IGF in João Pessoa, Brazil. We encourage you to attend and contribute to this IGF Initiatives MasterChef workshop on national and regional IGFs on 12 November!

ISOC’s local Internet governance event toolkit, launched earlier this year, provides further guidance on how to set up your first national IG event.

Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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