IGF 2021 WS #23
Datasphere: towards global and innovative solutions

Organizer 1: Sasha Rubel, UNESCO
Organizer 2: Brigitte Benoit Landale, FDFA
Organizer 3: Eva Sow Ebion, i4Policy Foundation
Organizer 4: Sophie Tomlinson, Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network
Organizer 5: Malarvizhi Veerappan, World Bank
Organizer 6: Carolina Rossini, Facebook

Speaker 1: Sasha Rubel, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization
Speaker 2: Eva Sow Ebion, Civil Society, Intergovernmental Organization
Speaker 3: Roger Dubach, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Lorrayne Porciuncula, Intergovernmental Organization, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 5: Foster Vivien , Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization


Sasha Rubel, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization

Online Moderator

Sophie Tomlinson, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Carolina Rossini, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Round Table - U-shape - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

Regulation, competition and innovation: How could regulatory and self-regulatory frameworks help foster more competitive Internet-related markets, a larger diversity of business models, and more innovation? How to enable equitable access to data, marketplaces or infrastructures for fostering competition and innovation on the Internet?
Data governance and trust, globally and locally: What is needed to ensure that existing and future national and international data governance frameworks are effective in mandating the responsible and trustworthy use of data, with respect for privacy and other human rights?

This session will discuss:
- How the concepts “Data Sovereignty” and “Free Flow of Data” drive local, regional and international policy debates on data
- How to prevent this detrimental polarization and bridge sectoral siloed processes
- Ways to ensure that existing and future national and international data governance frameworks are effective in promoting trust
- How diverse stakeholders, particularly from the Global South, can collaborate to build interoperable and common solutions to data governance challenges
- The innovative tools and approaches that can enhance the governance of data and the Datasphere


Targets: Data has become a crucial asset for governments, business and society in general. Therefore, data governance is a cross-cutting issue that can help the attainment of all SDGs, given the intersections and effects of data-driven technologies across SDGs:

SDG 1 mentions the need to develop appropriate new technologies related to basic serviced and financial services to fight hunger.
SDG 2 mentions the need for technological development in rural areas and access to market information in order to eliminate hunger.
SDG 3 can be promoted by digital technologies through e-health, mobile health and telemedicine solutions in rural and remote areas, in order to foster good health and well-being.
SDG 4 mentions ICT applications for quality education.
SDG 5 mentions the use of enabling technologies to empower women and promote gender equality.
SDGs 6 and 7 can be promoted by digital technologies through the use of mobile solutions, smart grids and meters to improve water and energy access.
SDG 8 mentions the use of technology in order to promote economic diversification, SMEs and entrepreneurship
SDG 9 includes a specific target to increase access to ICTs and to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet.
SDG 10 can be promoted through mobile-based services that can help reduce inequality by drastically expanding access to information, contributing to individual empowerment and social inclusion of individuals who used to fall outside the reach of traditional services.
SDG 11 can be promoted by leveraging digital technologies to organise cities and communities more efficiently.
SGD 12 can be fostered through digital technologies by connecting consumers and producers and promoting “on-demand” platforms that can save time, reduce transport costs and contribute to more efficient and sustainable consumption.
SDGs 13, 14 and 15 can be promoted through the use of IoT to help monitor climate, life underwater and life on land.
SGD 16 can be promoted through digital technologies by fostering the digitalization of public services in order to enhance access, efficiency and transparency.
SDG 17 mentions the need to foster ICTs in operationalising partnerships for development.


The collection and sharing of data opens up unprecedented opportunities for individual, social and economic value creation in a broad diversity of sectors, potentially ushering a new era of well-being for all. At the same time, however, major concerns have legitimately emerged regarding security, the economy and human rights. On one side, defenders of “Free Flow of Data'' highlight its positive effects on innovation and the digital transformation of economies and societies. On the other hand, proponents of “Data Sovereignty” are concerned about insufficient control over data use and misuse.

Debate around data has never been more polarized. Tensions are scaling up between governments, companies and civil society, eroding trust between them. This showcases our current inability to address these issues concretely and to enable interoperability between unilateral initiatives and processes that function in separate silos.

Global, multistakeholder and cross-sectoral debate on data is needed to bring nuance and common understanding to the opportunities and challenges that arise when dealing with our interconnected Datasphere. But most importantly, innovative approaches and concepts are indispensable regarding the tools and governance frameworks we rely on.

Expected Outcomes

This session aims to foster a global, cross-sectoral and multistakeholder dialogue around data and the governance of the Datasphere. It seeks to overcome the current low level of awareness on the data ecosystem, the specific characteristics of data, the state of the political tensions and existing innovative governance approaches. This workshop will be part of a series of events that the Datasphere Governance Initiative will be carrying out through seminars, round tables and capacity building activities - engaging in particular to developing countries - in order to promote an inclusive debate around data.

The main moderator will set the stage by providing context for the workshop, will make sure all the different perspectives are represented throughout the discussions and about halfway through the session will seek input and questions from the floor as well as from remote participants. The online moderator will monitor the chat and the room to ensure that questions from the audience can be integrated into the discussion, responding to topics of particular relevance to the audience.

Online Participation

Usage of IGF Official Tool. Additional Tools proposed: We will use Mentimeter to foster dynamic interaction with questions/statements between the audience (both remote and on-site) and the panelists, using the results for reporting and developing concrete recommendations