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By Bob Hinden, Chair of Internet Society Board of Trustees and David Farber, Internet Society Board Trustee

On the eve of the 9th Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Istanbul, the Internet Society’s Board of Trustees is eagerly anticipating the official launch of the Internet Governance Forum Support Association, an organization to support and sustain the IGF.  Despite its great success as a facilitator of open and equal dialogue, the IGF’s financial stability has been in question. The Board of the Internet Society strongly believed that it was necessary to create a legal structure to ensure that the IGF can grow and, indeed, strengthen its role. We are pleased that today at the IGF Support Association’s General Assembly meeting, a committed core of people who passionately support the goals of the IGF will formally organize to raise needed resources to sustain the global and regional efforts.  

Why does the IGF matter so much?  The global collaboration that occurs at the IGF is extremely important to those of us who are committed to an open, sustainable Internet, and fostering this collaboration is a key tenet guiding the Internet Society’s Board of Trustees. Unlike some forums for debate on Internet governance, the IGF is inclusive, and anyone can participate. It’s not limited to specific interest groups; it brings all interests—including large and small governments, civil society, the private sector and the technical community—together as equals. The IGF offers a neutral and informal setting, free from binding negotiations, to examine and discuss best practice approaches to policy solutions and the Internet’s global development. 

This kind of level-playing-field dialogue and debate is crucial to the Internet’s healthy evolution and advancement: if decisions related to the Internet and its future are not in the hands of the many, they will only be in the hands of the few.  And the responsibility for ensuring that balance falls to us if we want the Internet to evolve in an accessible, sustainable way.

Here’s what the IGF Support Association will do: 

  • provide funds to maintain/strengthen the IGF Secretariat and national/regional IGF initiatives;
  • seek and promote exchange and collaboration with national and regional IGF initiatives;
  • identify new sources of funding and facilitate funding of the IGF;
  • make contributions to the IGF Trust Fund administered by the UN; and
  • award fellowships for participation at IGF meetings, including preparatory meetings.

It’s important to remember that the IGF functions through support from its participants and friends. In order to continue to grow, it needs a robust and sustainable income stream. The IGF Support Association will be a channel for essential funding from individuals, companies, and foundations to ensure the IGF is the premier event for everyone interested in the Internet and its governance. The IGF Support Association is an open membership association – as its membership increases, so does its support of the IGF.

This is why your involvement in the IGF Support Association is vital if, like us, you believe that Internet governance should be directed by all of the Internet’s stakeholders.  

Please join us in building a strong foundation for the IGF through your support of the IGF Support Association. For more information on becoming a member or making a donation, visit their website.

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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