Preview of Internet Governance Forum 2015

Written by Matthew Shears

2015-11-05-IGF-2015_blog

The Internet Governance Forum 2015 (IGF) kicks off next week in João Pessoa, Brazil and I’ll be an active participant.  The theme for this IGF is the “Evolution of Internet Governance: Empowering Sustainable Development”, which seeks to highlight the role the Internet, and ICTs more generally, play in economic development. A key focus will be the importance of reinforcing the linkages between Internet governance and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were adopted at the United Nations in September.

This IGF is notable because it is the last meeting under its current mandate.   The IGF was established by the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in 2005 and its mandate renewal is part of a broader discussion of the WSIS review that will culminate at the United Nations General Assembly in December. (More on the WSIS review from CDT here.)  The Ambassadors from Latvia and the United Arab Emirates who are leading the WSIS review will be attending the IGF in Brazil to share their views on IGF renewal and on the review process that is underway.

Over the past ten years, the IGF has become a central venue for discussion of international Internet policy issues and multistakeholder approaches to Internet governance.  The IGF was never meant to be a decision-making body and, from the outset, there has been a great sensitivity to the idea that the IGF might start to produce negotiated outcomes or make policy recommendations.  Yet over the ten years of its existence, these sensitivities have given way to the practical realization that the IGF needs to show greater immediate value to policymakers and stakeholders in order to enhance its impact on global Internet governance and policy.

IGF 2015 has risen to this challenge.  Between the IGF in Istanbul last year and the meeting next week, there has been considerable multistakeholder inter-sessional work on critical governance issues.  These include policy options for connecting the next billion, an issue of key importance to global development and access, and pressing Internet policy topics such as practices to counter abuse against women online and establishing Computer Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRTs) through the Best Practice Forums.  This substantive work demonstrates the value of IGF as an on-going forum for diverse contributions on policy best practices.  The IGF is also an excellent forum for discussing some of the most high-profile tech policy issues of the day; for example, in Brazil, the topic of zero-rating services will be the focus of an all-day side meeting, a main session, and three workshops.

As we said going into IGF Istanbul, CDT sees immense value in the IGF as a space for discussing Internet policy and governance issues, sharing experiences and best practices, and, as the focus on zero rating services demonstrates, stimulating open and vibrant dialogue on pressing issues of import to all stakeholders.  We fully support its continuation and the renewal of its mandate for another 10 years.

At IGF 2015, I’ll be involved in the following sessions, details of which can be found here:

  • Moderator for workshop 82 on “IGF beyond 2015: Extend Mandate, Strengthen Institution”
  • Organizer and moderator for workshop 186 on “A multistakeholder and human rights approach to cybersecurity”
  • Panellist on:
    • Workshop 30 on “Multistakeholder practices enabling sustainable development”
    • Workshop 34 on “Internet Governance 2015: Promoting Trade, Inclusion & Trust”
    • Workshop 68 on “Can Civil Society Impact Global Internet Governance?”
    • Workshop 70 on “Death and the Internet – Managing Digital Legacies”

I will also be involved in a number of associated events, including an all-day pre-IGF meeting of the global civil society Best Bits platform, side meetings of the Freedom Online Coalition, sessions on the WSIS review, as well as meeting with governments, business, and other stakeholders.

I look forward to seeing you in João Pessoa, Brazil!

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