IGF 2021 Parliamentary Track: The Internet Governance Ecosystem

Thursday, 23rd September, 2021 (12:00 UTC) - Thursday, 23rd September, 2021 (14:00 UTC)
About this Session
Members of parliaments are invited to join this first preparatory session of the IGF 2021 parliamentary track, which will include an overview of the technical layers of the Internet, a look at the broader Internet governance ecosystem, and a discussion on how all this is linked with public policy and legislative work.

Session description

The key feature of the Internet’s core functions is maintaining the “uniqueness” of identifiers – the numbers (e.g. Internet protocol addresses) and domain names – which ensures global interoperability and connectivity. A large part of the Internet’s success is due to it being a “network of networks” with no central command. Its strength and value increase exponentially with the number of participants (network effect). Trust in these identifiers being unique and in the governance system that coordinates these functions is vital for the Internet to function and for it to remain the globally connected unfragmented network it is today.

The Internet does not come without risks. Most of those risks are related to what happens on the Internet (i.e. within the so-called application layer), rather than the underlying technical core functions and processes. For the latter, where risks on the stability or resilience of the Internet were identified, the industry has been putting in place new technologies to reduce these risks, whilst maintaining one global Internet. One could say that the ability of these core technologies to adapt to changes and scale-up is the foundation of the Internet’s success.

To recognise, understand and address these risks, both within the application layer and those of the underlying technical infrastructure, while maintaining a global network, we need to think globally. The tendency to seek legislation impacting the core of the Internet’s infrastructure on a domestic or regional level threatens the Internet as one unfragmented and globally interoperable space. A national or even regional Internet would never provide the same value as a global one.

In this first preparatory session of the IGF 2021 parliamentary track, we will cover several issues. We will start with an overview of the technical layers of the Internet (covering issues such as numbers, names, routing and standards) and the organisations that help run them. We will then zoom out into the broader Internet governance (IG) ecosystem, providing both a historical perspective and a forward-looking one while discussing what IG is about, what the key issues are, and what the future may hold. How all this is linked with public policy and legislative work will also be part of the debate.

Session contributors

  • Brief introduction into the IGF 2021 parliamentary track
    • Chengetai Masango | Head of the IGF Secretariat 
    • Andy Richardson | Programme Manager – Parliamentary Standards, Inter-Parliamentary Union
  • How the Internet works 
    • Chris Buckridge | Head of External Relations, RIPE Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC)
    • Olaf Kolkman | Principal – Internet Technology, Policy and Advocacy, Internet Society
    • Adam Peake | Senior Manager – Civil Society Engagement, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)
  • Overview of the Internet governance ecosystem
    • Wolfgang Kleinwächter | Professor EmeritusUniversity of Aarhus
  • Moderation: Sorina Teleanu | Consultant, IGF Secretariat



This session is dedicated to members of parliaments and parliamentary staff. Registration is required and can be done via this online form.