IGF 2019 WS #111 Business Innovations Foster Digital Inclusion, Bridge Gaps

Organizer 1: B Wanner, U.S. Council for International Business
Organizer 2: Bertrand Mouillier, International Federation of Film Producers Association [FIAPF]
Organizer 3: Carolina Rossini, Access Now
Organizer 4: William Hudson, Google Inc.
Organizer 5: Judith Hellerstein, H&A
Organizer 6: Marwa Azelmat, INTERNET SOCIETY YOUTH @IGF

Speaker 1: Carolina Rossini, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Klein Micaela, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Mark West, Intergovernmental Organization, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Ellen Blackler, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Policy Question(s): 

It is undeniable that the Internet and digital technology play a critical role in the sharing and dissemination knowledge. Digital divides create gaps in what voices are represented. Fostering digital inclusion should consider how technology can facilitate the preservation and promotion of culture through investments in local content as well as enable more individuals with sensory or other disabilities to participate in society. This workshop will focus on how the private sector’s continuing efforts to innovate in the digital space have fostered digital inclusion by making technology more accessible and expanding opportunities for content creators and persons with disabilities around the world. Policy questions to be addressed include:

1. Why is the creation of local content important and how is this linked to digital inclusion, connectivity, and adoption? What is business, government, and civil society doing to foster creation of local content?
2. How are emerging technologies, such a Artificial Intelligence, enabling inclusivity of global citizens with disabilities?
3. How and where have technologies been used to enhance literacy?
4. How do we create an alternative narrative that focuses on technology as a "cultivator" of economic prosperity and societal well-being, rather than a "disruptor" that is burdened with laws and regulations borne out of fear?

Relevance to Theme: Technological innovation often is associated with words like “disruption” and “automation.” In reality, private-sector efforts to innovate have expanded economic and commercial opportunities for local communities and non-tech industries and created new jobs. Furthermore, tech breakthroughs focused on multilingualism and the development/dissemination of locally-relevant content have supported efforts to develop the “demand side” of Internet deployment -- an essential complement to “supply-side” connectivity policies – as well as enriched and affirmed local culture. Also important, large swaths of global citizens with disabilities have become productive and engaged participants in the digital economy through deployment of various cutting-edge technologies. In short, it is more correct to label technology as a “cultivator” than a “destroyer.”

Relevance to Internet Governance: A theme that will be woven into speakers' comments challenges the perception by some countries and stakeholders that technology is a "disruptor" that should be tamped down through adoption of policies and tight regulations that hamper access to and/or proper functioning of the Internet. Such an approach, in turn, impedes continued innovation that can enhance economic development, grow societal well-being, and improve an individual's quality of life.


Round Table - U-shape - 90 Min

Description: Speakers will consider how investments in new technologies have empowered industries, local communities, and individuals. This panel will focus on how digital technologies have fostered two dimensions of digital inclusivity: cultural, which will delve into technologies used to develop and disseminate multilingual and local content; and societal, which will explore technologies used to enhance accessibility and bridge gaps stemming from gender, age, or disability.

Expected Outcomes: The workshop speakers will develop an alternative narrative that focuses on technology as a "cultivator" of economic prosperity and societal well-being, rather than being a "disruptor" that should be burdened with laws and regulations. They will do this by developing a policy checklist addressing (1) elements creating a fertile environment for investment in technology innovation, (2) testing of specific technology applications for people with disabilities, (3) effective means to cultivate and disseminate local content, and (4) raising public awareness about how technology breakthroughs may be used to engage in and feel more included in one's local community and the digital world at large.

Onsite Moderator: 

William Hudson, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator: 

Marwa Azelmat, Civil Society, African Group


Judith Hellerstein, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Discussion Facilitation: 

The Moderator was selected not only for his expertise in Internet governance and digital inclusion, but also for his experience moderating Roundtable discussions at global conferences on multi-faceted topics involving at least 5 speakers. Drawing on this background, the Moderator will work with the co-organizers and speakers in a series of pre-IGF preparatory teleconferences to orchestrate a coherent "flow" to the first 45 minutes of discussion. Speakers will be asked to identify two or three key points they want to make to address their specific topic; the Moderator, in turn, will interweave these points into a series of questions aimed at encouraging both expert commentary as well as discussion between the speakers. The Moderator will preview these questions and anticipated "flow" of the session with speakers in advance of the IGF so speakers can sharpen their comments and, if needed, gather additional statistics or supporting evidence. PowerPoint presentations will be discouraged. The emphasis will be on fostering an inclusive and informed conversation between the workshop speakers and with in-persona and remote participants.

The pre-IGF preparatory process also will entail (1) confirming on-site discussants, who will attend the workshop and be prepared to ask a relevant question as a means of "breaking the ice" and encouraging other audience questions; and (2) reaching out to and confirming the participation of online discussants, particularly from emerging economies, who the Moderator will invite to offer comments or pose questions via the Online Moderator.

Online Participation: 

The pre-IGF preparatory process will entail reaching out to and confirming the participation of remote discussants, particularly from emerging economies, who the Moderator will invite to offer comments or pose questions via the Remote Moderator following each agenda topic. In addition, the co-organizers will explore the potential for establishing remote participation hubs, delving into technical capabilities and needs that could be addressed by the business community.

For the workshop itself, online participants will have a separate queue managed by the Online Moderator. Questions and comments will be rotated between the online queue and the in-person queue at the microphone. The Moderator will work closely with the Online Moderator during the pre-IGF preparations to establish effective means of communication between them to ensure the timely insertion of a remote question/comment. The Online Moderator will be strongly encouraged to participate in pre-IGF training provided by the IGF Secretariat as well as the preparatory teleconferences, the latter to thoroughly familiarize herself with the workshop substance.


GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-Being
GOAL 4: Quality Education
GOAL 5: Gender Equality
GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities
GOAL 17: Partnerships for the Goals