IGF 2018 WS #237 Global Citizens Debate - Future of Internet: First Results

Organizer 1: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 2: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 3: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 4: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

This workshop aims at presenting the results of the piloting process of the Global Citizens’ Debate on the Future of Internet (http://internet.citizensdebate.net/). It will be a major milestone of the project that aims at: (1) bringing ordinary citizens’ into the global discussion on the future of Internet (2) feeding the strategies of the stakeholders with the informed opinion of the global public. The project was officially launched at IGF17 so the workshop builds on ongoing work and discussion with the broader community.

Full description:
In the last 40 years, Internet became a common good for Humanity. Despite the fact that half of Humanity is still non-connected, the societal impact of the technology has been incredibly high. The developments to come offer an incredible range of stakes for industry, governments, civil society and every human being.
The Multistakeholder dialogue has been privileged as a way to share visions, identify key difficulties and questions, that are to be solved in a near future or further down the road. A permanent framework for dialogue has been offered at different scales: national, regional and global.
Despite all its qualities, this dialogue between experts tends to exclude one core stakeholder: The citizens of the world. Of course, the industry associates the public in market research, and has a deep knowledge of its expectations, habits and practices. Research and academia has focused on the need to understand better the interaction between individuals, communities, and society at larger sense with internet and associated services, technologies and innovations. The technical community focuses on delivering a high level of service. Governing bodies underline the need to associate the society in process of co-shaping what the European Commission has named “the next generation internet”. The final declaration of G7 in Taormina (2017) states: “we want to send a message of confidence in the future, ensuring that citizens’ needs are at the center of our policies. As G7 Leaders, we intend to do so by engaging [...] in a collective endeavor involving governments, civil society, the private sector, and ordinary citizens”.
Putting “ordinary citizens” in a position of co-decision maker, co-designer for the future services, technology and innovation may be considered as an odd idea: How can people living in remote areas of the planet – part of them not even connected - have a relevant contribution on the future of the Internet?
The Global Citizens’ Debate on the Future of Internet builds on the knowledge that they can and should.
More precisely the debate will:
Leverage the added-value of associating ordinary citizens, connected and non-connected, to the shaping of the internet of the future.
Allow to build and explore the vision of the desired future seen by ordinary citizens from all continents, representing 120+ countries and 200+ regions.
Be a test of the capacity of the industry, civil society organisations, governments and international institutions, to create a dialogue with ordinary citizens on issues that concern their future, the quality of their life and the humanity as a shared adventure.
Empower all stakeholders to use the result to enrich, rethink, challenge their own visions.
The idea has been gaining traction inside the multistakeholder dialogue since 2017 and more and more actors are convinced that shaping the internet of the future now requires to embed not only the users but the citizens as co-decision maker, co-designer and ideas challenger in order to shape the future of Internet.
In 2018 we aim at piloting the project in 12 countries, on six continents. Groups of 30 randomly selected participants will gather face-to-face to test the protocol ant the topics gathered during 2017 in collaboration with the community (closed framing pilots) and to gather topics of interest for the debate coming directly from them (open framing pilots).
The workshop aims at presenting the results of this piloting process and will be the occasion to launch the full-scale debate for 2019 and - if conditions are gathered - A dynamic coalition.


Break-out Group Discussions - 90 Min


The basic assumption of our workshop is that all participants to the workshop are “speakers”. So we base the process on collective intelligence of the people present in the room. Their views, expertise and perspectives will be included in the session. The opening feedback from “official speakers” aims at having a kickstart of the discussion in plenary. These “official speakers” will then join the discussion groups. The list of "official speakers" mentioned above is a first round and is not final because we still don't know which pilot organizers and citizens will take part.
As stated in point VIII we will also have pilot organizers and ordinary citizens intervening in the opening of the event and during the break-out groups. These are all participants that will take part to IGF for the first time.


Diversity it at the core of the Global Debate and we aim at mirroring this diversity in our workshop. As stated in point IX we will have a high diversity of participants including ordinary citizens from all over the world and pilot organizers that will be from the 5 continents. Those participants will be new to IGF.

Moreover, beside the official speakers from point VI, we have a longer list of interested “non official speakers” from International Organizations (3 participants interested), Industry (5 participants), Governments (2 participants), the technical community (2 participants), academia (4 participants) and civil society (5 participants).

The only biais to date is the origin of the official organization team (Europe). We will be able to correct this as the project progresses until November and through the piloting. We will seek to have at least two more co-organizers from other origins for the workshop.

1. Opening (30’)
Short presentation of project and process (Missions Publiques / Savoir*Devenir). Feedback from “official speakers” on output of the piloting: We aim at having a reaction from each stakeholder group (2M and 2F), plus from two pilot organizer (one “developed country” / one global South; 1M and 1F) and four participants to the pilots (ordinary citizens, 2 “developed country” / 2 global South; 2M and 2F, 2 “connected” and 2 “unconnected”, 2 “youth” and 2 “old”).

2. Discussion / Break-out groups (2*20’)
Participants are randomly split into groups of 5 (maximum diversity). In each group a facilitator and a note taker will guide the discussion (volunteers from Savoir*Devenir). In the first round they discuss following questions (not exclusive): What do these results mean for me? How do they inspire me for my strategy, my advocacy, my position? What could I take up for the discussion at IGF? The second round focuses on following questions: If we think about a full-scale debate rolled out in 160 countries of the world in 2019: How to improve the process? What elements should we pay attention to? Which topics/angles are still missing? What would make the results even more relevant to me?

3. Presentation of results of the groups and conclusion (20’)
Participants gather in plenary, some note takers present the key results of their group. Official launch of full scale debate by organisation team and strategic partners (something symbolic like unveiling a world map with confirmed participating countries and strategic partners).

After WS: All notes are gathered and published.
Besides WS: Missions Publiques and Savoir*Devenir are present at a booth (hopefully) and organise shorter version of WS (5’ Intro / break-out groups / conclusion) once a day. Participants to IGF that are not able to take part to the 90 Minutes will be able to register for this mini-ws and will then be able to participate at their convenience.

Discussion Facilitation: 

Facilitation will be organized as to support the group of participants in their work on the results of the piloting process and the design of the full scale debate. The team of Missions Publiques and Savoir*Devenir will ensure the quality of the discussion and will keep time. The team of Missions Publiques is composed of five international-level senior moderators and will ensure a high quality of discussion.

It is very important for this workshop to be successful to have a flexible room with mobile tables, chairs and microphones.

Online Participation: 

The online participation will be organized as a mirror of the f2f participation:

1. E-Opening (30’)
The remote participants will be in a listening position and will be in the virtual room. Two of the feedback from pilots will be delivered by remote participants: One organizer and one participant.

2. E-Discussion / E-Break-out groups (2*20’)
Online participants will be invited to join 5 virtual rooms (links will be provided at the beginning of the session - participants will be dispatched in function of the first letter of their country of origin). In each group a facilitator and a note taker will guide the discussion (volunteers from Savoir*Devenir). The virtual group will discuss the same two questions as the f2f groups.

3. E-Presentation of results of the groups and conclusion (20’)
Online participants will join back the plenary, some remote note takers will present the key results of their group.

Contact Information

United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 678