IGF 2019 WS #308 Sustainability of NRIs: Strategy for Future IGF

Organizer 1: Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Organizer 2: Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Organizer 3: Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Organizer 4: Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group

Speaker 1: Anri van der Spuy, Intergovernmental Organization, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Desiree Miloshevic, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Amrita Choudhury, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 4: Tracy Hackshaw, Technical Community, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 5: Ali AlMeshal, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 6: Tatiana Tropina, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Policy Question(s): 

How do we ensure that Internet governance processes are truly inclusive? How NRIs contribute to the Internet Governance process for the sustainable Internet Governance Forum ? What could be the sustainable model of NRIs that make the scope of the IGF further significant?

Relevance to Theme: Digital Inclusion is the main theme of the time. Unless and until we make inclusive Internet, we can not grow together. The workshop is to enhance local engagement on design, development and the execution of the local IGF. It is obvious that when a policy and technology both developed through inclusive and multi stakeholder approach, the outcome will be inclusive and will be for all.

Relevance to Internet Governance: The workshop is itself on the future of Internet Governance. There is growing concern of the maintaining the multi stakeholder model of the Internet Governance. It is further important that the NRIs should grow further and strengthen. We need to enhance the regional and local IGF and the session was also dedicated to the sustainability of the NRIs.

Format: 

Panel - Auditorium - 90 Min

Description: National and Regional IGFs (NRIs) are self-organized group and emerged as the significant pillar for the global Internet governance discourse in recent past. This movement has been developed rapidly specially after 2010. By now, there are 17 Regional and 81 National IGF recognized by IGF Secretariat.

Caribbean thought about beyond UN IGF and started own initiative from very early time. In 2005, Markus Kummer, one of past co-chair of MAG of UN IGF and veteran IGF leader, recalls that the first regional IGF to emerge was the Caribbean IGF, driven by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), but without any linkages to the IGF Secretariat or the global IGF at that time (GIS Watch 2017). Though the Caribbean IGF started a ling ago in 2005, it took long for establishing a national IGF in the region. In 2011, the first national IGF in Latin American & Carrabin region was held in Brazil, though there was already the existence of the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee.

In Europe, the United Kingdom (UK) was the first country to promote a national IGF. Nominet, UK ccTLD operator co organized the first UK IGF in 2007 and successfully running. At the 2008 annual global IGF meeting in Hyderabad, India, there was a workshop devoted to NRIs, with participants from Senegal, Kuwait, Italy, the UK, Germany, France, the Council of Europe, Brazil and Kenya. This initiative led emergence of more regional and national IGF. Subsequently, EuroDIG was established in 2008. Now, in Europe there is another sub regional initiative called South Eastern European Dialogue on Internet Governance (SEEDIG) that was established in 2015 year. This sub regional initiative spans South Eastern Europe and the neighboring area. Now there are total … national IGF recognized by the IGF Secretariat.

In Africa, there are five sub regional initiatives and the East Africa Internet Governance Forum (EAIGF) was the first sub regional IGF held in Africa (2008). West African IGF and Central African IGF were started in 2009 and the Southern Africa Internet Governance Forum (SAIGF) was started in the year 2011. Finally, the Internet Governance Forum was established at African level was in the year 2012 as the African Internet Governance Forum (AfIGF) 2012 in Cairo, Egypt. African Union hosts the Secretariat.

The IGF was started in the Asia Pacific in 2010. The first event was held in in Hong Kong in the month of June. Since then, APrIGF was successfully completed its 9 editions and 10th edition is happening in Russia in July 2019. This is an unique initiatives that span from Pacific Islands, Australia and Russia. It also span from Korea, Japan to Sri Lanka and Maldives, a very wide and diverse community.

The Arab world witnessed a wave of Internet during so called "Arab Spring". Though the Arab World had already hosted UN IGF, it took a time to start regional IG initiative. The Arab Internet Governance Forum (Arab IGF) was established under the joint umbrella of the League of Arab States (LAS), and United Nations Economic Commission (ESCWA) in the year of 2012 and it was held in Kuwait.

Though, there is growing trend of establishing regional, sub regional and national IGF's, the sustainability and effectiveness of NRIs are still matter of concern. There are many regional and national IGF who started the forum with much expectation; they could not continue the initiative. Commonwealth IGF, Persian IGF do not exist. For example, in India, the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeITY) constituted the MSG for an Indian Internet Governance Forum (IIGF), India had never any IGF. Similarly, in Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan IGF was started with much expectation; it was not happened in the subsequent year 2017 and 2018. APC reports states that Southern African IGF was not held in the year 2016 and 2017.

There are various challenges to the sustainability of the regional and national IGFs. One of major challenge is availability of the sustainable funding. National and Regional Initiatives are of voluntary nature. There is the practice of no fee or extremely nominal fee for the participation and there is discouraging practice of highlighting or showcasing the advertisement of the sponsors. In such case there are very less interest of the sponsors. In another word, this is not much. In many cases, national and regional initiatives are dominated by civil society who depends on others funding. In such case, there is possible gap of links with the private sector. In such case, the sustainability is a major challenge. In the year 2017, the Australian ccTLD operator, Dot Au Domain Administration Ltd was supposed to host APrIGF later on it was canceled and organized in Bangkok, Thailand. There was lack of understanding or communication among the stakeholders or the funding is the issue for cancelation of the event.

Secondly, there are different model of leadership in NRIs. Some of NRIs are officially taken up and having formal structure of some of national IG are dictated by the government where some of NRI is dominated by civil society and not represented the government stakeholders. Probably one of the most pressing challenges for these initiatives is their impact on the wider policy-making environment, both at the national but also at the international level (GISWatch 2017). While most stakeholders involved in the organization of these initiatives are aware of the difficulties in tracing a direct linkage between a national IGF and a policy outcome, there is pressure to show results.

The nature of single event model also gives less appeal to the stakeholders. If there is a perception that these events have no consequence in the policy-making process or in the ecosystem more generally, the incentives for participation tend to decrease. Some of regional initiatives are isolated with the state recognition. For example, APrIGF do not have linkage with member state governments. APrIGF is governed by a group of MSG members that constituted by mare expression of interest. It dos not matter s/he can contribute is examined. This kind of governing structure may not work always work. It is also reflected that there is very low presence of government stakeholder in APrIGF, probably because is this. Similarly, the country level coordination does not exist in such regional initiatives. Some other major issues that may effect sustainability are inclusion, awareness/literacy, geographic representation and Internet penetration.

In the year 2016 and 2018, there was no SAIGF meeting. This is largely due to the lack of sustainable funding for the forum and may in part be aggravated by the lack of strong links with the private sector.

In this workshop, we will be discussing the various issues faced by NRIs in their development and continuity.

Expected Outcomes: The session will contribute for developing sustainable model for the NRIs. Specially following outcomes are expected:

1. Major NRIs participating the IGF will join the discussion and share their experience.
2. Participating NRIs will share the limitations and strength of the respective NRIs
3. Certain strategies or models be recommended to the IGF Secretariat and NRIs focal team as well as other NRIs for the
developing sustainability of existing and prospective NRIs.

Discussion Facilitation: 

We have a very diversified panel of Experts in the Panel. We have majority of woman in the Panel (Desiree, Anri, Tatiana and Amrita) and two Panelists are male (Tracy and Ali). All the geographical representation is also maintained, Anri represents African, Desiree represents, European, Tracy represents LAC and Amrita represents Asia, Ali represents Arab region and Tatiana represent the host country. The Moderator (Babu Ram Aryal) is from a developing country and supported by a women (Kamala Adhikari) on online moderation. Desiree and Ali are from business community where Amrita and Anri are from the civil society. Tracy is the Government stakeholder in the panel and Tatiana is acaemic. In aggregate it’s a very diversified panel and the management.

The workshop shall start with the welcome note and introduction with highlight of the discussion by onsite Moderator Mr. Babu Ram Aryal. The Proposed Moderator itself is the vice chair of the APrIGF as well as the architect and founding vice chair of Nepal IGF will share his experience too before kicking off the discussion (5 Mins). After the introduction he will give individual speaking slot to the Panel Speaker (5 Mins each). This will take around 30 minutes. After first round of discussion, there will be 3 mins each moderated interaction (total 20 mins) and 30 minutes will be given for floor discussion. Final 5 minutes will be taken for summarise of the discussion.

Individual speaking slots are utilized as follows:

Tracy Hacksaw (Male), the Director of TTMAG and a representative of Caribbean and Latin America (GRULAC) will start the discussion. He has long experience of predicating at IGF and organizing local IGFs. He will bring the historical perspectives and the sustainability experience of regional IGF.
Anri van der Spuy (Female), a representative of SASIG who has significant research on IGF and multi stakeholder model when she was commissioned by the IGF Secretariat and the UNESSCO. She will be bringing the African experience that has unique practice of 5 sub-regional IGF and a African Level of Experience. Anri will also bring the experience of the IGF Secretariat and UNESCO where she significantly contributed in the research of on the multi-stakeholder model and IGF process.
Desiree Miloshevic (Female), the MSG member of UK IGF will have success story of one of longest serving national IGF. It will be interesting for others how to develop a sustainable model of national IGf. As she is also board of trustee, she can share the experience of of supporting various national and regional IGFs by ISOC.
Amrita Choudhury (Female), the Director of CCOAI, an India based organization significantly contributes in IG knowledge sharing, will present the Indian case studies on national IGF. Though India hosted IGF as early as in 2008, still lacking the national IGF. Government of India constituted a MSG in 2013, but it never happen. She will sharing the insight of the story, why India is lagging in IGF. She will also be sharing the her experience from APrIGF perspective.
Ali Almashel (Male): Ali, is the Board Member of Arab Multi Stakeholder Advisory Group and also the Vice Chair of APRALO. He brings the experience of the Arab world, which is considered one of tough region from Internet Freedom.

Dr. Tatian Tropina: Dr. Tropina is a senior researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International (Germany). She is closely engaged in IGF process, global, regional and local. She will bring the local experience of German IGF to the discourse.

Online Participation: 

We are continuously working in the area of IG activities. For example, we are participating at Asia Pacific School on Internet Governance, Asia Pacific Internet Governance Forum, Nepal IGF and Nepal School on Internet Governance. We will promote all of our forums and share the workshop and request them to participate.

SDGs: 

GOAL 1: No Poverty
GOAL 5: Gender Equality
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities
GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
GOAL 17: Partnerships for the Goals