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Internet Governance 2 December 2011

EIF breakfast debate on “Internet Governance – Feedback from the 2009 IGF”

Brussels, 26 January 2010

Talking Points:

Frédéric Donck, Director European Regional Bureau,Internet Society

  • Introduction: Role and responsibilities of the Internet Societyʼs European Regional Bureau.
  • Feedback from Sharm: -This IGF was an excellent one, thanks to the host country, Egypt and Tarek Kamel personal involvement here but also thanks to the IGF Secretariat and tothe Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG).-You know that we are strong believers in the Internet ecosystem – a web of organizations that work together in cooperative manner- and we believe that theIGF has become an important element in that ecosystem, that makes its distinct contribution to the future of Internet governance.

I would like to share some thoughts on 7 different issues, including on very pragmatic & organizationʼs aspects.

  1. On the way the sessions were organized: Clearly, there was an increase in the number of main sessions that allowed freeand open discussion of many different topics…and especially where there is no agreement. That was the purpose! And that innovation proved certainly successful. This said, we believe that those sessions should be continued, but we would recommend that they be shorter.Concretely, we recommend that large topics be sub-divided if necessary to fit amore concise format. The size of panels is still too large, so they do not encourage free exchange among all participants. Also reducing the number of simultaneous sessions is certainly worth investigating.There is indeed general agreement that there were too many workshops running at the same time, all competing with main sessions.
  2. Remote participation: This is about IGF inclusiveness-which continues to develop! Great! This said, a second area for improvement would-for the IGF- to have a stable platform for remote participation. The technology platform used in 2009 was not “that” reliable in some areas. But it is not just a question of providing the necessary technology and access. It also a question of more actively promoting the ability to participate remotely at the global level.
  3. Multilingualism: Some more work needs to be done to encourage non-English speakers to participate and to fully make use of the interpretation facilities that are offered. In many main sessions and workshops, mostdiscussion took place in English, often not taking care to speak slowly, and thiswas certainly difficult for non-native speakers.Also Access for those with special needs could all be improved by offering real-time transcription of all workshops & sessions.
  4. Young people: Many people were encouraged that this 2009 edition had the strongest youth participation so far. Letʼs continue these efforts.
  5. On the content: One can certainly recognizes that the content and level of discussion become more mature with each passing year. As a consequencemore time may be required to encourage the workshops to drive to a conclusion.And this might mean, for example, that the IGF ought to allot more time to fewer topics in a different format. It might indeed be worth trying a new format that might facilitate deeper understanding and the development of outputs from the IGF. Hereʼs some concrete proposal: each day could have a driving theme and bestructured around a series of workshops on that single theme. The afternoon could be a main session to bring together the outputs and insights from the workshops-and discuss this. And evenings could provide opportunities for informal follow up to the dayʼs discussions. Such a format would helpparticipants to be in a position to contribute and add value as a result of the fullday engagement of the issue.
  6. On the funding: There are significant costs to making the IGF a success-most of all the host countries. Some not-for-profit organizations, including theInternet Society, make regular contributions to the secretariat, as do somebusinesses and a handful of governments, including some very generous (butlimited) European governments and the European Union (Thank you!) But this might not be enough. We need to recognize that the IGF cannot make allthese improvements at the current level of funding: thus we call on all stakeholder groups to help sustain the IGF by increasing their financial commitment to its success.
  7. On the future: Turning to Vilnius, we believe that we should mark the accomplishments of the IGFʼs first five years, and look to the future of Internet governance.We would like to propose the following as an overall theme: Internet Governance for Sustainable Social and Economic Development: the Next Five Years.
  8. This theme would focus discussions on the horizontal themes of development and capacity building, and respond to the many voices calling for an increased focus on the development dimension of Internet governance.This theme would also emphasize that Internet governance discussions will not end after the fifth IGF, and by explicitly turning attention to the future, it would also provide a reminder of the importance of embracing the innovation that youth participants brought to the IGF in 2009.

Thank you for your attention!

Questions? Comments?

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