The Second Open Consultations attracted over 100 participants on its first day, where the key topics of discussion were how to approach the IGF 2020 now that it will be a fully virtual meeting and, following the recent release of the UN Secretary-General’s roadmap for digital cooperation, how to best evolve the IGF over the longer-term. IGF is now currently halfway through its 10-year mandate granted to it by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 70/125. Over the years IGF has made many incremental improvements to respond to the needs of stakeholders, and the MAG Chair encouraged participants to think about how IGF could make more substantial changes, in the lead-up to the deliberation of the IGF’s renewal in 2025.
The host of IGF 2020 is now officially the United Nations. However, the Government of Poland, now the host of IGF 2021, committed during the Opening Session to continue supporting the IGF 2020 with human and financial resources.
Some of the ideas for transferring this year’s IGF into a fully virtual environment proposed by participants at the first day of the Open Consultation included:
- Not trying to shoehorn the characteristics of the usual physical event into the virtual version of the conference
- Having the National, Regional and Youth IGFs act as facilitators to establish hubs in schools and community centres
- Extend the timeframe of the IGF, so it takes place over more than the usual four days of a physical event - perhaps with a “Road to the IGF” series of shorter sessions leading up to a main week of events
- Reach out to mobile operators in developing countries to zero-rate the IGF, so a wider range of stakeholders can participate
- Reduce the number of workshops and days over which the conference is held
- Take into account the different time zones 1000+ remote participants will be working from in developing the schedule for the conference
18 Internet governance-related entities submitted pre-recorded videos summarising their Internet governance-related activities. Participants had been encouraged to view the videos before the Open Consultations, at a time that suited them, and then submit questions and comments for discussion on the day. Discussion focused on the resilience of the Internet to cope with the extra traffic generated by people staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic and some of the challenges, such as ensuring freedom of expression while also addressing the challenge of misinformation.
The Open Consultation was also an opportunity to test out ways to better use online participation tools for the upcoming virtual IGF 2020, including use of online polls and turning the “coffee breaks” into small virtual breakout rooms where people are randomly assigned to encourage participants to engage with other stakeholders outside their usual circles. The virtual poll on how participants felt about the move of IGF 2020 to a fully online environment showed that the majority were excited by the prospect.
Registration for this week's Open Consultations and MAG Meetings are open through to the end of the meetings on Friday.