IGF 2021 WS #199 Innovative strategies in achieving universal connectivity

Friday, 10th December, 2021 (08:30 UTC) - Friday, 10th December, 2021 (10:00 UTC)
Ballroom A

Organizer 1: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 2: Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Organizer 3: Technical Community, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Organizer 4: Technical Community, African Group

Speaker 1: Taís Niffinegger, Government, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 2: Raquel Renno Nunes, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Carlos Bello, Private Sector, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 4Juan Peirano, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Round Table - Circle - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

Leveraging infrastructure and technology innovation and development: How can the significant expansion of mobile infrastructure around the world, as well as other existing and emerging technologies such as satellite, fibre, and wireless networks, be used to expand affordable access?
Practical locally-driven policy solutions: What lessons can be drawn (and how) from successful policy solutions to universal access and meaningful connectivity around the world, while taking into account local specificities and needs? In particular, what are the relevant practices implemented by local actors (local government, civil society, local providers and entrepreneurs) to advance universal and meaningful access?

The strategies for expanding connectivity do not always involve the necessary diversity of actors in the decision-making process. Some significant progress is being made by some regulators, with positive initiatives not only in terms of enabling regulation towards achieving universal connectivity but also in terms of creating a more constant dynamic where different stakeholders can give inputs and actively collaborate in decisions before, during, and after the strategy implementation and allowing that specific community needs (affordability, content in local language, gender equality, digital skills)to be properly assessed and addressed.



Targets: In 2011, the United Nations declared the Internet to be a human right and Sustainable Development Goal n. 9 (Resilient Infrastructure, Sustainable Industrialization, and Innovation) includes the provision of universal and affordable access to the Internet as a target. Bridging the digital divide is also considered a determinant factor in a country’s sustained development and participation in the global digital economy. ITU’s 2018 study on the economic impact of broadband penetration noted that an increase of ten percent in mobile broadband penetration yields an increase of 1.8 percent in GDP. In developing countries, lack of connectivity excludes billions of people from access to education, healthcare and social interaction, highlighting the urgency for the Internet to become a universal resource. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Internet has presented itself not only as a main form of communication but also as a door for educational and employment opportunities. Inequalities in access and quality of connection have more than ever deepened the disparities of opportunities between people. This has demonstrated once again that the issue of expanding connectivity is an urgent matter directly related to the wellbeing and sustainability of communities, reduction of inequalities, decent work and economic growth. Our session aims to push forward concrete strategies to achieve universal connectivity.


In the pandemic context, the Internet has acquired even greater importance in different segments of the population. The debate over Internet connection resurfaces under new shapes, including policy discussions around reframing current strategies for achieving universal Internet access, where the Roadmap for Digital Cooperation is a key reference. It is important to acknowledge, though, several successful policy cases that were already implemented with concrete positive impact in expanding connectivity. The session aims to create a space where some of these experiences are shared and discussed. This implies finding a common language among different stakeholders and establishing steps towards a common strategy or vision, allowing it to evolve in a more collaborative way. To achieve that, the session will cover the following topics: (a) What are some successful examples of policy measures taken by governments, the private sector, academia, and civil society in tackling the digital divide? Which challenges and lessons learned came from these experiences? What are the challenges and opportunities to make some of these models scalable? (b)How different stakeholders can work together and be heard by policy-making actors in decisions that directly impact the achievement of universal connectivity (eg. spectrum management, licensing frameworks, infrastructure development, innovative financing models)? What are some positive examples of collaboration and good practices in this sense? This session proposes to bring the debate through a conversational format so that panelists and participants can have a greater possibility of connecting and working in a way more in-depth analysis of policy questions, and the creation of a future network of collaboration on the topic.

Expected Outcomes

• To bring together public and private sectors, the scientific community, and civil society organizations, to brainstorm and share effective action strategies and experiences that have been effective in creating and participating in establishing a balanced and diverse multi-stakeholder decision-making process for connectivity expansion. • To identify coordination opportunities and methods for different stakeholders to work together to influence policy and regulatory decision-making and be heard by policy-making actors in decisions that directly impact the universal connectivity goal, (e.g. spectrum management, licensing frameworks, infrastructure development, innovative financing models, etc.). • To break down siloes between like-minded stakeholders and identify priorities for a shared agenda at the regional level. The discussions will be designed to share information of relevant initiatives, projects, and actions and finding common frameworks and shared language that can be used to build multi-stakeholder strategies that are grounded in specific local and regional contexts and needs.

The opportunity for participating in the debate part of the session will also be extended to remote participants, who will be given the opportunity not only to ask questions through the dedicated online forum, but also make interventions during the session. During the break-out groups, in case of hybrid format, it will be assured that the online participants will also participate in different groups in order to integrate the discussion. A collaborative document will gather these records of comments and questions during and after the workshop, to be later integrated into the report. A variety of media can also serve as background material for this debate, based on previous workshops. Remote participation tools will ensure an inclusive, accessible, and global audience both via the IGF online participation and social media (our collaborators will do "live tweeting" to engage the remote audience.

Online Participation

Usage of IGF Official Tool. Additional Tools proposed: We will share an online invitation via social media in our respective accounts (Article 19 and persona accounts) and using our Article 19 mailing list for different stakeholders as part of our communication during and previous the IGF