IGF 2020 WS #168 Capacity Building in the Age of Convergence

Friday, 13th November, 2020 (08:00 UTC) - Friday, 13th November, 2020 (09:30 UTC)
Room 2
Thematic Track

Organizer 1: Rachel Azafrani, Microsoft
Organizer 2: Chelsea Smethurst, Microsoft
Organizer 3: Alex Wirth, Microsoft

Speaker 1: 'Gbenga Sesan, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 2: Prateek Sibal, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization
Speaker 3: Verena Weber, Intergovernmental Organization, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Julia Schuetze, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 5: Andrea Calderaro, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Chelsea Smethurst, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator

Alex Wirth, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Rachel Azafrani, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Other - 90 Min
Format description: Hybrid panel and break-out group discussions with flexible seating and online participation.

Policy Question(s)

This session will focus on the subtheme of Capacity Development by exploring the following questions: 1) What are the challenges of capacity building for the governance of converging technologies? 2) What policy and non-policy tools can address capacity building for the governance of converging technologies in the near term, and how can access to them be increased? 3) What are the roles of different stakeholder groups in capacity building for the governance of converging technologies?

This workshop is about identifying activities and roles for each set of stakeholders to ensure that the capacity gap does not widen for ensuring that these novel technologies are trustworthy as they disseminate and become increasingly complex. The first part of the session will identify some of the challenges that the governance of converging technologies poses for capacity building. The active break-out sessions will produce recommendations for policy and non-policy tools to address gaps. Finally, it aims to highlight how multistakeholder groups can be leveraged to implement these recommendations and achieve these goals in the near term.


GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities
GOAL 17: Partnerships for the Goals


Preface: Global digital transformation is drawing policy attention and increased regulatory activity around converging technologies, but inclusion in and facilitation of these conversations is strained by intense competition over skills, resources, and information. If left unaddressed, this rapid transformation will widen the digital divide, inhibiting the adoption of beneficial technologies globally and disadvantaging developing countries and smaller actors. This will leave many countries with a limited governance and adoption plan for these new technologies that present tremendous social and economic opportunity, but have novel privacy, safety, and security challenges that will impact vulnerable populations most. Capacity building in the age of convergence necessitates a diverse, multistakeholder conversation. The experts gathered as speakers and guides for this workshop represent different geographies, international institutions, civil society, and the private sector, each critical for the resources and perspectives that must be represented in order to advance capacity building. These experts have extensive practical experience in capacity building and are currently working on relevant capacity building efforts in converging technology, such as for 5G, AI, and IoT. Participants will be encouraged to think creatively about policy and non-policy tools and leveraging multistakeholder groups to advance capacity building. Structure and Methodology: This workshop will begin with a panel discussion to offer varied perspectives on the challenges of governance of converging technologies. Participants will then use design thinking methodology in active break-out sessions with mixed stakeholder groups and the expert speakers to identify policy and non-policy tools to support capacity building for adoption and governance of converging technologies with a near-term focus. Each stakeholder group is encouraged to suggest activities that their group would act upon. When they reconvene after the break-out section, panelists and participants will discuss the role of each stakeholder group in implementing the tools identified. This format will produce concrete, near-term recommendations on tools for capacity building. The multistakeholder collaboration will highlight how each group can work together to support capacity building (see Section 6 for expected outcomes and ongoing discussion). After the break-out sessions, participants will reconvene for reflection, discussion, and questions. Agenda: - 10 minutes: Opening remarks and introduction of the topic, goals, structure, and speakers of the session. These remarks will give an overview of how converging technologies are changing policymaking and norms-building and introduce the role of multistakeholder discussion for capacity building. - 25 minutes: Panel remarks led by the moderator asking direct questions about the capacity building challenges for governance of converging technologies, and how stakeholder groups are conceptualizing these challenges and their priorities. Panelists will have the opportunity to respond and pose questions to the other speakers to represent their perspectives. - 5 minutes: Transition and break to sort participants into break-out groups led by the speakers and moderators and to accommodate blended digital and in-person breakout groups. - 25 minutes: Multistakeholder break-out groups of 5-10 participants, guided by the speakers and moderators, will have a design thinking session on both policy and non-policy tools to address capacity building for governing converging technologies in the near term: the next five years. The design thinking methodology will guide the groups toward generating a large set of recommendations that will be captured for each group with digital tools. - 25 minutes: This part of the session will reconvene participants into a panel and discussion format. It will begin with the moderator posing a question to the panel about the roles of each stakeholder group in implementing these tools. Then, there will be open-ended discussion about opportunities and challenges to implement these tools in the near-term, leaving time for questions. Different perspectives and dialogue between speakers and participants will be encouraged. Facilitating Discussion and Online Participation: Participants will be informed at the beginning of the workshop that there will be time for questions in the final portion of the session so that they may prepare. The moderators will keep time during the session and ensure that each speaker has participated and prompt conversation between them. Breakout sessions will be available both in-person and online and allow for a hybrid format. The design thinking portion of the session will take place using online note-capturing tools so that both online and in-person members can contribute and will assist in capturing the recommendations for distribution. In the final part of the session, moderators will ensure to take questions from a diverse set of participants both online and in-person.

Expected Outcomes

This session will produce a concrete set of recommendations for capacity building in a report that will be brought to discussion at the BPF on Data and New Technologies in an Internet Context and published for distribution in other venues and discussion at other events. The report will highlight near term policy and non-policy tools to support capacity building for the governance of converging technologies, promoting inclusion in the adoption and development of trustworthy technology globally. It will also identify roles for each stakeholder group.

This workshop has two sections devoted to interaction and participation. First, through multistakeholder breakout sessions, which technology can enable to be hybrid with both online and in-person participants in the same group. Notes will be captured using an online tool so that all attendees can participate simultaneously. In the final part of the workshop with open discussion, the moderators will be in communication with each other and will alternate between online and in-person to provide equal opportunity for participation.

Relevance to Internet Governance: This session is intended to build upon existing work at the IGF – in particular, the BPF on AI, IoT, and Big Data. Converging technologies are changing governance because of their interdependencies, rapid development, and effects on society, and governments need support to adapt. The recommendations from this session will support capacity building to govern converging technologies and highlight where each stakeholder group has a role in this effort. Capacity building will promote trust and stability while enabling every country to take advantage of the social and economic benefits of converging technologies.

Relevance to Theme: Policymaking for and adoption of converging technologies can quickly become exclusive due to their complexity and the way stark competition over skills and resources has created inequal access to information and talent to build and govern them. Without adequate governance, it is less likely that the benefits of converging technologies will be realized, and more likely that they may be developed to the detriment of countries and actors who are not represented in international discussion. There is opportunity for a multistakeholder group to close some of these gaps. Further to the mission of the IGF, this session will examine how capacity building can be supported in the near term to ensure global realization of the immense benefits of converging technology, and how capacity building will be a multistakeholder effort through policy and non-policy avenues to address the issue. Increased capacity will promote the adoption of converging technologies that will support the advancement of people and every industry and decrease the digital divide. Capacity building will also enable a more representative discussion at the multilateral and regional level that will support inclusive norms-building for new technology.

Online Participation


Usage of IGF Official Tool. Additional Tools proposed: We will use the provided online participation platform for facilitating panel discussion and breakout sessions. Additionally, we plan to provide each break-out group with Microsoft's Whiteboarding tool as an alternative interactivity tool due to its ability to capture text and format it quickly.