IGF 2021 Day 0 Event #84 Internet governance, with and for the citizens

Monday, 6th December, 2021 (08:30 UTC) - Monday, 6th December, 2021 (09:15 UTC)
Conference Room 1+2

Missions Publiques
Benoît Verhulst, Antoine Vergne, Maike Brakhan

Onsite Moderator
Antoine Vergne
Online Moderator

Benoît Verhulst


Maike Brakhan


Interactive presentation and exchange between speakers and attendees

Duration (minutes)



We the Internet is the first debate of its kind to engage a coalition of strategic stakeholders brought together by Missions Publiques and representing the key players in the field: international organizations (UNESCO, European Commission, Council of Europe) governments (Germany, Switzerland), the private sector (Google, Facebook, Mozilla), civil society (The Internet Society, Web Foundation, Wikimedia Foundation, Particip’action), and the scientific community (WZB Berlin, Arizona State University for example). In 2020 we are scaling up the process in more than 100 countries, with discussions held on a single day and following a single method. In addition to the citizens’ forums, there will also be workshops with stakeholders as part of the UN High Level Panel process. “We the Internet” has proven that the future of Internet is a subject to be debated with citizens. The outcome of the preliminary dialogues in 2018 put the participants’ agenda on the table. That year, the participants brought up the question of the environment and this has now been officially added to the agenda of the Global Internet Governance Forum to be held in Poland in 2021. The pilots run in 2019 produced some clear results on the issues of digital identity and disinformation while showing the state of internet in different part of the world.

We will show to and with the attendees what a deliberative process is and what kind of output it can bring, even on a topic which is difficult to tackle as Internet. It will be an interactive session where staff members will interact directly with attendees and then compare the results of the session with the large-scale event that we run in 2020.

Session Report (* deadline 26 October) - click on the ? symbol for instructions

- Session 84 Open Forum – 77 participants (Many weren’t able to attend because of technical issues with the platform, more people on site than online)

This session was impactful both for us as organisers since we received requests for partnerships but also for stakeholders who were present and who shed light on findings from our deliberative processes in their own way.

The findings of the We, The Internet Dialogues were said by an attendee of the session that “they highlight the importance of education for online human rights, which are no different to offline human rights”.

One participant acknowledged the fact that global citizens ask for more inclusion in internet governance: “Yes it is true, internet governance should be everyone’s responsibility”. This stakeholder agreed with what came out from our findings regarding governance.

A participant in the room proposed a collaboration to become a national partner in Australia and implement a citizen dialogue locally and help reach impact at regional and national level specifically on the subject of human rights online. Another participant from Africa also showed interest in becoming a national partner.

Stakeholders showed interest in the fact that they can implement a Dialogue independently from us by using our dedicated Toolkit, free and available on our internet site. This toolkit consists of a design based on Missions Publiques’ method of citizens’ participation and 4 modules that include step-by-step guidance, case studies, references, as well as key questions for launching group discussions and individual questionnaires. All tools are grounded in research and contextualized for the diverse operating realities of global stakeholders. This is encouraging because stakeholders from the IGF community would like to expand the Citizens’ Dialogues.

On Twitter: 1 tweet from @MPubliques_EN with a thread

#OF84 #IGF2021 has started! Enlightened citizens want action now with #WeTheInternet. What do stakeholders have to say? Discussions underway at the IGF's #OF84 (thread) https://twitter.com/MPubliques_EN/status/1467777469709262851?s=20



- Session Townhall 7 – 41 registered persons (We are adding this here, because it seems we cannot edit the reporting for this session specifically) 

One attendee from Belgium showed interest in wanting to expand the We The Internet process because they too wanted to bridge back discussions between “hand-users”(who we call citizens) and stakeholders and decision-makers.

One intervention from a family doctor in England was very interesting. He understood our findings regarding AI in Ethics and found that the answer to the following question asked to citizens was of the utmost interest: “who, for citizens, should hire an AI ethicist?”. For him, one of the issues of biomedical engineers is that these “very clever people don’t deal with ethics.” These Citizens’ Dialogues are also a good way of shedding light on ethical subjects that every ordinary citizen should be concerned with, to complement to work of biomedical engineers. The participant also explained he had built a medical center to train patients: “when you look at the literacy of the population only 3% can standards legal texts.” This confirms what citizens said in the deliberations: that they want to be educated and they want literacy to be improved for all reasons such as understanding legal texts for example.   

There was one Tweet made by @ramupetu: Here a few thoughs from #IGF2021 town hall #7 'Internet Governance with & for the Citizens': data from consultations on IG issues can help #libraries shape #digitalskills programmes, also they can offer space or step in as local facilitators of continous dialogue





Finally, one participant took the floor and ended the discussion by saying:” Your role is not an easy one, but it should be done”.