Round Table - 90 Min
Addressing Challenges in Developing a Unified Digital Platform for Small Island Developing States in the Global Digital Economy
Small Island Developing States (SIDS) face unique challenges in the global digital economy, including limited access to resources, infrastructure, and technology. The Dynamic Coalition on Small Island Developing States in the Internet Economy (DC-SIDS) is committed to addressing these challenges by developing a unified, shared digital platform that empowers SIDS to participate fully in the global digital economy. However, developing such a platform comes with its own set of challenges. This roundtable workshop will bring together stakeholders to identify and solve the challenges of developing a unified digital platform for SIDS.
- To explore the previous and existing attempts to bring SIDS together via digital and other means, and explore their relative successes and failures.
- To identify the challenges faced in developing a unified digital platform for SIDS and explore potential solutions.
- To discuss the benefits of a unified digital platform for SIDS and its potential impact on economic development, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability.
- To showcase successful examples of digital platforms that have benefited SIDS and explore how they can be adapted to other SIDS.
- To develop strategies for addressing the challenges of developing a unified digital platform for SIDS.
The Roundtable will bring together policymakers, industry experts, civil society representatives, and academics from SIDS and non-SIDS countries. The workshop will also seek to include representatives from marginalized communities within SIDS, including women, youth, and persons with disabilities.
The session will be conducted as a Roundtable discussion, with participants invited to share their experiences, perspectives, and ideas. The session will begin with a brief introduction of the DC-SIDS and its objectives, followed by a panel discussion on the challenges and opportunities of developing a unified digital platform for SIDS. The panel will include representatives from SIDS and non-SIDS countries, as well as industry experts. The discussion will be followed by an open floor discussion, where participants will be invited to share their experiences and perspectives on the challenges raised. The Roundtable will conclude with the development of strategies for addressing the challenges of developing a unified digital platform for SIDS.
The workshop is expected to contribute to the following outcomes:
- Increased understanding of the challenges faced in developing a unified digital platform for SIDS.
- Identification of potential solutions and opportunities for SIDS to participate fully in the global digital economy.
- Increased collaboration between SIDS and non-SIDS countries, industry, civil society, and academia to develop a unified digital platform for SIDS.
- Strategies for addressing the challenges of developing a unified digital platform for SIDS that are inclusive, equitable, and sustainable.
The workshop will provide a platform for stakeholders to exchange ideas, share experiences, and develop strategies for addressing the challenges of developing a unified digital platform for SIDS. The workshop aims to contribute to the broader goal of empowering SIDS to participate fully in the global digital economy, promote economic development, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability.
- Maureen Hilyard, Vice Chair, ICANN At Large Advisory Committee (ALAC), Civil Society, Asia Pacific-Cook Islands (Onsite Moderator)
- Tracy Hackshaw, Director, Trinidad & Tobago Multistakeholder Advisory Group, Technical Community, GRULAC-Trinidad and Tobago (Onsite Moderator)
- 2023 Internet Society Youth Ambassadors (Rapporteurs)
Kindly note that, as is usual with the Annual DC-SIDS IGF Meeting, our format is not one that uses a "talking heads" approach, rather it utilizes the pioneering "Roundtable" approach we introduced at IGF 2012 whereby the session is led by topic discussants, with full participation and engagement from all meeting participants throughout the meeting. In this regard, a list of "speakers", in the traditional sense, is not something that we propose utilizing. We have identified a volunteer list of discussants, based on DC-SIDS Mailing List discussions.
NOTE: This list may change closer to the IGF as clarity emerges on who will likely be on site and who will be online:
Rodney Taylor, Secretary General, Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), Government-International Governmental Organization (IGO), GRULAC-Barbados
Emani Fakaotimanava-Lui, PICISOC; Niue Member of Parliament; ISP owner - MakaNet (NZ), Asia Pacific-Niue
Tatevik Grigoryan, Associate Programme Specialist Section for Digital Policies and Digital Transformation, UNESCO
Mahen Busgopaul, Halley Movement; Mauritius IGF, Indian Ocean IGF, Deputy Presiding Officer (East Africa) – African Union ECOSOCC, Civil Society, Africa-Mauritius
Cherie Lagakali, PICISOC; Pacific Manager, NetSafe New Zealand; MSG, APRIGF, Asia Pacific-Fiji
Andrew Molivurae, PICISOC Board Vice Chair; PacIGF Chair, Asia Pacific-Vanuatu
Genelle Lake, GRULAC-Trinidad and Tobago
Michele Marius, Director, ICT Pulse Consulting Limited, Editor and Publisher of ICT Pulse, Host of the ICT Pulse Podcast, Private Sector, GRULAC-Jamaica
Pua Hunter, PICISOC; GAC-ICANN; Director, ICT Unit, Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Asia Pacific-Cook Islands
June Parris, Member, CIVICUS, Civil Society, GRULAC-Barbados
Patrick Hosein, GRULAC-Trinidad and Tobago
Lance Hinds, ICANN ALAC, CEO, Brainstreet Group, Civil Society, GRULAC-Guyana
Niel Harper, GRULAC-Barbados
Carlton Samuels, GRULAC-Jamaica
Maureen Hilyard, PICISOC; ALAC-ICANN; Consultant Digital Transformation (OPM); Board Director - DotAsia; MSG - APRIGF. Asia Pacific-Cook Islands.
Internet Society 2023 Youth Ambassadors: Nana Ama Yeboah Addo; Temilade Adelakun; Nanbaan Pwaspo Micah; Paola Celina Corporán Matos; Daniele Turra
1. No Poverty, 3. Good Health and Well-Being, 4. Quality Education, 7. Affordable and Clean Energy, 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth, 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, 10. Reduced Inequalities
Targets: A Unified Digital Platform can help SIDS achieve several of these goals. For example, it can help promote economic growth and job creation. It can also help improve access to education and healthcare. In addition, it can help promote sustainable development by reducing the environmental impact of economic activities.
Specific goals that the SIDS Unified Digital Platform can help achieve include:
Goal 1: No Poverty - A SIDS Unified Digital Platform can help promote economic growth and job creation.
Goal 3: Good Health and Well-being - A SIDS Unified Digital Platform can help improve access to healthcare.
Goal 4: Quality Education - A SIDS Unified Digital Platform can help improve access to education.
Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy - A SIDS Unified Digital Platform can help promote sustainable development by reducing the environmental impact of economic activities.
To align with the SDGs, a SIDS Unified Digital Platform should be designed to be inclusive and accessible to all. It should also be designed to promote innovation and entrepreneurship. Finally, it should be designed to promote collaboration between different stakeholders, including governments, the private sector, civil society, and academia.
Global communities should seek to adopt and apply UNESCO's ROAM-X Internet Universality Indicators framework as a tool for evaluating and enhancing Internet development in Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
Using readiness assessments and similar toolkits can help strategically address digital challenges and promote inclusive growth in SIDS regions.
Local SIDS communities and global fora must coordinate in order to actively voice SIDS-specific issues, including the establishment of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs), strengthening cybersecurity, and fostering local digital fora.
Supporting organisations interested in SIDS issues can work together, co-ordinated by the DC-SIDS, to identify solutions and help implement digital tools to catalyze cooperation between and within SIDS regions ensuring best fit and sustainable approaches.
Introduction & Setting the Scene
During this Roundtable, the lead discussants addressed several critical aspects related to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and the pressing need for a unified SIDS digital platform.
Tracy Hackshaw, one of the co-chairs of the Dynamic Coalition at Small Island Developing States (DC-SIDS), initiated the session by underlining the importance of collaboration and communication among SIDS to tackle on a high-level the digital challenges they face.
Rodney Taylor, Secretary General of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) and Maureen Hilyard, the other DC-SIDS co-chair delved into the challenges encountered by SIDS when engaging with international organizations. Insufficient resources and personnel limit their participation in various processes. However, they celebrated the success of the first SIDS Internet Governance Forum in 2022 and advocated for greater attention to digital governance in these regions.
Andrew Molivurae provided insights into the Pacific Internet Governance Forum (IGF), highlighting its fifth year and the diverse topics covered, such as emerging technologies, connectivity, and cybersecurity. Collaboration with organizations like AuDA, InternetNZ, and ISOC was highlighted.
Maureen Hilyard introduced the concept of "platform cooperativism" as a strategic approach, focusing on human rights and creating a democratic digital economy.
Additionally, the use of Internet universality indicators was presented, promoting principles such as human rights and openness in the digital realm. The operationalization of these principles was provided by UNESCO's Tatevik Grigoryan by introducing the ROAM-X framework. By embracing ROAM-X, SIDS can address digital challenges and promote inclusive growth in these regions.
The discussion then shifted towards the importance of multi-stakeholder participation and capacity building, emphasizing that this approach is relevant for all countries, not just developing ones.
The necessity for continuous collaboration in a working environment, rather than just periodic events, was stressed. The success of long-running events like the Caribbean Internet Governance Forum (IGF) was showcased as a model of effective policy framework development and updates.
The lead discussants concluded their segment by emphasizing the need for a unified SIDS digital platform to address the challenges faced by SIDS effectively. They called for active engagement and visibility in the International Governance Forum (IGF) space to amplify the voices of SIDS.
Discussant Interactions/Roundtable Discussion
The second part of the workshop opened the Roundtable to interactions with additional discussants in an open discussion format. The discussions revolved around the possibility of launching a unified SIDS digital platform and the importance of breaking down silos to maximize resources and enhance coordination.
Discussants stressed the need to start with a clear understanding of the nature of interaction desired and who should be involved. Mapping the SIDS landscape and focusing on content creation were deemed essential steps.
They then discussed the tools, materials, and resources necessary to develop the unified platform, following which they emphasized the importance of involving young individuals willing to contribute their time and effort to move the platform forward.
There was a call for government involvement, with specific attention to UNESCO's National and Regional Offices and the importance of a broader solution to address SIDS' issues.
The Global Digital Compact (GDC) was highlighted as a driving force for the initiative, with an emphasis on the need for accessible information and platforms for interaction across different sectors.
The Roundtable concluded with an exploration of the upcoming United Nations SIDS4 Summit to be held in Antigua and Barbuda in late May 2024 as an opportunity to advocate for the unified platform and the importance of intercessional engagement to advance SIDS' issues.
Conclusions and Key Takeways
The key takeaways from the workshop included the importance of adopting the ROAM-X framework to evaluate and enhance internet development in SIDS. By embracing ROAM-X assessments, they strategically addressed digital challenges and promoted inclusive growth.
Moreover, local communities and global fora must coordinate efforts to actively voice SIDS' issues. This includes the establishment of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs), strengthening cybersecurity, and fostering local digital fora.