IGF 2020 WS #347 Back to basics: Covid-19 resurfaces need for connectivity


Organizer 1: Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Organizer 2: Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Organizer 3: Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Speaker 1: Galperin Hernan, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 2: Fernanda Viecens, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 3: Malena Arcidiacono, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 4: Sebastian Benitez Larghi, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 5: Louise Hurel, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 6: Paola Ricaurte , Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)


Round Table - Circle - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

Inclusion: What universal access models proved to be resilient during this crisis? What models can be used to close internet access gaps in the region? What impact does the current digital divide have on vulnerable and low income groups? How have these effects been enhanced through the global health crisis? What are the impacts of this digital divide on continued online schooling and remote work? What are the cybersecurity implications of remote work and schooling?

This panel will bring together specialists to discuss research that assess the impact and provides policy suggestions to address the digital gap in the wake of the Covid 19 crisis. This panel will address the effects of the pandemic beyond the impacts on public health. This knowledge will center around the effects of the digital divide and the long term impact the Covid19 crisis has on the most vulnerable groups to provide policymakers with insights about new models for access to connectivity, digital skills, and added value of gender equity in the context of digital labor.


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


COVID-19 brought home the urgency of addressing long-standing inequality ICT access gaps.The immediate effects of the health emergency and the measures taken by various governments in Latin America to reduce the spread of the virus have highlighted our increasing dependence on reliable connectivity and adequate infrastructure. In the face of the crisis, our lack of adequate ICT capacity has resurfaced. Infrastructure deficit in the region has led to the critical issue of inequality, i.e., connectivity gaps, affordable and quality access, network robustness, security and traffic management. The suspension of schools and universities as well as of non essential activities and work has made the costs of the digital divide more clear than ever. The implementation of stay at home measures have different implications for people living in areas with access to mobile connectivity versus those that remain without access. Remote work and schooling is not a possibility for all and this threatens to increase the negative effects of the crisis in the long term for low income groups, women and minorities. In addition, For those who thought the debate on universal access was passé, COVID-19 reminded us that we need to offer a policy solution urgently. Countries in the Latin American region have not implemented a solution to the difficulties of compensating the lack of commercial attractiveness for ISPs to invest in remote regions. To be sure, there have been a myriad of policies and investments, public-private schemes and incentives, universal access funds and state led initiatives and none of these have reached any real level of success. We need to revisit old solutions that may have had implementation errors, as well as think out of the box for new solutions. This session will begin with a state of the issue of topics to be addressed including: infrastructure deficit and connectivity gaps in Latin America; gender gap in internet adoption in Latin America; and how this has been further revealed during the recent pandemic. Panelists will also address gender differences in employment in Latin America; the value of digital skills in Latin American education systems and labor markets, and what this means in a post-Covid-19 context. These issues will be addressed with recent research studies presented by specialists in the region. The moderator and speakers will invite in-person and online audiences to speak to these issues, and provide insight into specific cases or propose policy within the current global and regional context.

Expected Outcomes

Input from audience members will be an invaluable source of knowledge to strengthen the research presented and contribute to a multi stakeholder discussion about the effects of policy decisions on these issue areas, particularly in the context of promoting effective adoption of ICT for the social, political and economic development of the region during and in the aftermath of a global health emergency. This discussion will be documented and disseminated through Centro Latam Digital’s communications channels and directly to policymakers as a multistakeholder conversation about the importance of addressing these issues at a policy level in the region.

Moderator will introduce goals and topic of the workshop and introduce speakers. Speakers have 5 minutes to present initial findings from research and present the state of the issue within the workshop context. The moderator will have a list of specific questions to prompt discussion amongst the audience and refer back to original topics presented by speakers. An online moderator will facilitate interaction with virtual participants and integrate questions and comments into the live discussion. A summary of key points discussed, new research questions and topics to be considered will be drafted and shared with audiences through Centro Latam Digital’s communications channels, complementary to proceedings documented by the rapporteur.

Relevance to Internet Governance: This workshop will address policy decisions that surface in Latin America from the Covid-19 global emergency and spur discussion based on evidence-based research about how the digital divide is significantly aggravating the effects of the pandemic for vulnerable populations. The workshop will present the aforementioned findings to inform digital policy recommendations targeted at Latin American policymakers to address existing injustices and inequalities in terms of access, education, and labor opportunities for societies that are increasingly dependent on the internet in the short to long term.

Relevance to Theme: This workshop is directly related to the Inclusion Track because it highlights the current state of internet access, infrastructure, digital skills, online labor as exposed due to the Covid-19 crisis and the effects of the digital divide on low income groups,women and minorities in Latin America.

Online Participation


Usage of IGF Official Tool.