IGF 2020 Thematic Tracks





The four thematic tracks for this year were based on contributions from 2019 IGF activities, the annual IGF Stocktaking process and integrated Call for Issues and the Call for Validation of Thematic Tracks for the 2020 programme. These processes were open to everyone and more than 200 submissions were received in the Call for Validation of Thematic Tracks alone. Finally, these processes formed the basis of the MAG’s discussions and ensured that the programme topics are those that the global community deemed most critical and timely to Internet governance stakeholders and societies at large.

Listed below are the four major thematic tracks for the IGF 2020 programme. It is important for session proposers to note that associated topics, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and policy questions are illustrative only and many others may be relevant.


The Data track will provide for discussions on the fundamental challenge of ensuring the benefits of the data revolution to contribute to inclusive economic development while protecting the rights of people.

The global nature of the Internet and the transfer of digital information across borders brings an international dimension to discussions around data. The generation, collection, storage, transfer and processing of data (including personally identifiable data) have enabled new social, cultural, and economic opportunities than ever previously imagined. At the same time, the massive collection, transfer and processing of data through the application of data driven technologies by public as well as private entities pose challenges around privacy, freedom of expression and the exercise of other human rights.

The Data track will contribute to identifying best approaches to ensure the development of human-centric data governance frameworks at national, regional and international levels. It will enable an exchange of views on how to support and operationalize the exercise of human rights and the empowerment of individuals in their digital identity in current uses and development of data-driven technologies. And it will consider how to create the conditions needed to facilitate data-driven innovation, to ensure competition, and to foster trust in the development of services and new technologies, including through the use of inclusive data and the fulfillment of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Associated Tags/issues: Digital identity; Data governance (from HHRR & regulatory approaches to any other kind of approach as ethics, fairness, accountability); Data and Jurisdiction; Data-driven emerging technologies; Data-driven business models; Data access, quality, interoperability, competition and innovation.             

Associated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)45891016

Illustrative Policy Questions:

  1. What are/should be the rights and responsibilities for individuals in determining the use of their personal data? How to ensure transparency and accountability in the gathering and handling of personal data?
  2. What societal and economic benefits are enabled by the trustworthy use of data to develop data-driven emerging technologies?
  3. To what extent, if any, could the development of international norms and principles facilitate common approaches and interoperability of data protection frameworks, and also facilitate international trade and cooperation?
  4. What is the impact of AI and other data-driven technologies in the exercise of rights of most vulnerable groups? How to implement them to further advance their inclusion and avoid further harm?
  5. How can we ensure equitable access to data for fostering competition and innovation? 

    See a complete list of the illustrative policy questions


Environmental sustainability and climate action is a fundamental component of the UN 2030 Agenda. At the current pace, however, the world seems to be dangerously off-track of delivering these targets, especially the Paris Agreement commitment to limit climate change to 1.5ºC. Transcending sectors and regions, climate action is an issue that all stakeholders have committed to, but one that calls for truly integrated and innovative solutions.

The Internet and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have a powerful impact in the face of this challenge. They connect people, initiatives and resources across the globe, opening up relationships, information and avenues for collaboration. They can help monitor and track the environment, facilitating understanding, prevention and more targeted interventions globally.

At the same time, digital technologies can also be deployed in ways that counter the goals. While the ICT sector currently performs better than the wider market, the sector’s expected growth poses its own challenges on energy use and carbon emissions as well as other negative externalities such as increasing resource consumption, pollution associated with manufacturing and e-waste. There is an urgent need to identify and address the cases in which the development and use of Internet and ICTs as well as related devices and services may have adverse environmental impacts.

This track aims to understand the interdependences between the use of Internet and digital technologies to preserve the environment, but also to threaten its sustainability. It will consider how the positive impacts of ICTs for climate action can be enhanced while minimizing any negative impact.

Associated Tags/issues: Climate change; ICTs impact on the environment; ICTs carbon footprint; Management and limitation of e-waste; Technology development for climate action; Biodiversity; Responsible consumption; Conservation; Clean and renewable energy; Water scarcity; Sustainable cities / Smart cities; Emerging technologies and environment; Leveraging Artificial Intelligence and big data for environmental sustainability.

Associated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)6711131415

Illustrative Policy Questions:

  1. How can existing and emerging digital technologies contribute to addressing climate change and how can they foster change in various sectors of the economy (manufacturing, trade, agrifood, etc.)? What initiatives exist and what can be done to improve them?
  2. What can be done to reduce the carbon footprint of ICTs (e.g. sustainable infrastructure, carbon-neutral data centres, efficient manufacturing, use and recycling of devices, etc.)? What lessons can be learned from various communities (e.g. indigenous peoples, small island states etc.) and existing initiatives?
  3. What role can data and AI play in tackling sustainability issues such as climate change, biodiversity, conservation and water scarcity?
  4. How could policy-making benefit from the analysis of big data to better understand impacts of policy decisions on sustainability?


Building on the 2019 Digital Inclusion track this new Inclusion track aims to engage the IG community on the issues, challenges, and solutions for the achievement of an equitable and inclusive Internet.

Inclusion is about ensuring those with limited or no access to the Internet, such as the unserved and underserved communities, as well as those for which the internet is not accessible due to gender, disability, digital literacy, affordability, or for any other reason, are now included and have equal opportunity to be meaningfully connected to the internet.  Inclusion is also about the activities related to the achievement of an inclusive information society, about engaging all stakeholders and ensuring everyone’s voice is heard and treated equally in the decision-making processes and ensuring that everyone has the right access, skills, and motivations to reap the social benefits of going online and participate in the digital economy.

Inclusion is a key contributor towards a stronger economy and enhanced economic development through shared wealth, shared employment, and equal opportunity for all, and is an enabler towards the fulfillment of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Associated Tags/issues: Access (basic and non-basic); Accessibility; Availability; Affordability (pricing/business models of Internet services); Infrastructure (adjacent systems); Digital literacy (education); Digital divide (age, gender, disability and geographics); Outreach; Poverty Eradication; Economic development; Emerging technologies; Social inclusion; Multilingual (e.g. local content development, universal acceptance); Meaningful connectivity; Design for inclusion; Community networks (leaving no one behind).

Associated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)134578910111216

Illustrative Policy Questions:

  1. What factors should be considered when seeking to understand and tackle affordability issues, and how might improvements be made?
  2. What strategies could be developed to promote (better) Internet access for women and girls, older people, people living with disabilities, refugees and other disadvantaged groups?
  3. Within the evolving Digital Economy, how can we get the most contribution from the different actors of the Internet ecosystem?
  4. How do we best equip the workforce of the 21st century with the necessary skills to take advantage of the new employment opportunities that will result from digital transformation? 
  5. How do we manage the social inclusion within the community affected with technology, as the ICT could bring the change in their social relation?

     See a complete list of the illustrative policy questions



Trust in the online world is a prerequisite for the Internet to develop its potential as a tool for empowerment, a channel of free speech and an engine of economic development. In this context, trust relates to the security, stability, and resilience of the infrastructure, systems and devices, and also to the need for people to be safe and secure. These are both vital elements for enabling a healthy and empowering digital environment, beneficial to all.

This thematic track is an evolution of the discussions under the IGF 2019 track on Security, Safety, Stability & Resilience, which are summarized in the Berlin Messages. It will provide opportunities to discuss strategies and best practices for protecting both systems and users, along with the appropriate roles and responsibilities of governments, industry and other stakeholders, while taking into account multidisciplinary perspectives. The track will also allow for a consideration of the relationship between security and people’s fundamental freedoms and rights, exploring where the balance might be struck or trade-offs might be needed in response to the growing range of threats to the global Internet and to Internet users from all age groups.

Associated Tags/issues: Cybersecurity best practices; Norms; Cyber-crime; Cyber-attacks; Capacity development; Confidence-building measures; IoT; Domain Name System; DNS abuse; DNS security; Internet protocols; Encryption; Global routing security; Human rights; Digital safety; Child online safety; CSAM; Hate speech; Extremist content; Terrorism; Social media platforms; Freedom of expression online; Disinformation; Fake news; Deepfakes; Democracy; Elections; Hacking.

Associated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)35, 916

Illustrative Policy Questions:

  1. Which policy measures could be taken for the protection, prevention and defense against cyber threats?
  2. What role can the implementation of the principles of safety by design, privacy by design and by default as a principle play to secure human rights and achieve increased safety?
  3. What are the responsibilities of digital platforms and public authorities in regulating or policing content, and where and how should the balance be struck between freedom of expression and public safety?
  4. What kind of collaboration among Internet platforms and media outlets could work to fight disinformation and fake news online?
  5. What is digital sovereignty, is it positive or negative, and how are national and international laws applied in cyberspace?

       See a complete list of the illustrative policy questions