IGF 2023 Open Forum #44 Future-proofing global tech governance: a bottom-up approach

Wednesday, 11th October, 2023 (07:45 UTC) - Wednesday, 11th October, 2023 (08:45 UTC)
WS 8 – Room C-1

Blockchain, Digital Assets & Web 3-based Ecosystems
Chat GPT, Generative AI, and Machine Learning
Quantum Computing

Panel - 60 Min


The emergence of new technologies such as quantum-related developments, metaverse platforms, nano-technology and human-machine interface, poses unprecedented challenges and opportunities for citizens, organizations and governments. How can we ensure that the development and deployment of emerging technologies are aligned with the common good of humanity? What are the principles that should guide the governance of these technologies? How can international organizations future-proof their structures and mechanisms so that they can better respond to the pace of technological change? This panel proposal aims to explore these questions and propose some possible principles for adaptive and flexible global technology governance, focused on a bottom-up approach. Drawing on the insight and experience of experts from various fields and regions, the panel will build upon the collective experience gained from the 20-year history of global internet governance, and from nascent efforts at AI governance. It will take a critical look at what has worked thus far, and what can be improved upon, for the international community to deal with the next generation of disruptive technologies. The panel will also address how global technology governance principles can inform discussions on the upcoming Global Digital Compact, WSIS+20 and other international processes.

The session can be held online via Zoom or other platform. The online moderator will track any requests for intervention from the online floor and ensure that they are given equal opportunity to speak.


🔒Ministry of Justice, Office of the Deputy General (International Law), Israel



Amb. Thomas Schneider - Switzerland - Ambassador and Director of International Affairs at the Swiss Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) in the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC) - WEOG

Sheetal Kumar - Head of Global Engagement and Advocacy, Global Partners Digital - NGO 

Gallia Daor - Policy Analyst - OECD-CDEP (IO)

Carolina Aguerre, Professor at the Universidad Católica del Uruguay, Department of Humanities - AC

Chris Jones, Director of the Technology & Analysis Directorate at the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office - WEOG

Dr. Alzbeta Krausova – Head of the Center for Innovation and Cyberlaw Research at the Institute of State and Law, in the Czech Academy of Sciences - AC (online)


Onsite Moderator

Sheetal Kumar

Online Moderator

Cedric (Yehuda) Sabbah


Dr. Alzbeta Krausova



Targets: How the international community responds to the next wave of disruptive technologies is likely to impact society in various ways: domestic institutions, human rights and economic development.

Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)

Concepts of agility and bottom-up approaches are relevant for global tech governance

Multistakeholderism, human rights and multidisciplinary remain as relevant as ever in addressing the next generation of disruptive technologies

Call to Action (* deadline 2 hours after session)

Explore and expand agility models in international institutions

Engage in mutlistakeholder discussions about the future we want, bearing in mind diverse technical, legal and cultural values

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

The session was divided into three parts:

1.       Disruption: addressing the challenge brought about by disruptive emerging technologies

2.       Agility: exploring whether and how international institutions can be agile, with an emphasis on bottom-up approaches

3.       Common principles: searching for shared values and principles that can guide international institutions going forward

1. Disruption

The international policy challenge brought about by disruptive technologies includes both a substantive challenge and a geopolitical one. With respect to the substantive challenge, there is a tension between two opposite approaches. One approach suggests that there is nothing fundamentally different with new technologies, and that over time the international community will address the issues. At the other extreme, one might be tempted to see new technologies as fundamentally problematic and warranting international regulation. From the panel, there emerged a need for balance. On the one hand, it is important to keep in mind the history of international policy responses to technological developments, paying attention to recurring patterns. It is often the case that new technologies trigger alarmist responses. Therefore, any action needs to build on fact-based, informed decision-making. On the other hand, the enormity of the challenges brought about by emerging technologies should not be understated. For example, as opposed to the early stages of the development of the internet, which was led by academia and government, nowadays the private sector has a much larger impact on the development of new technologies. One of the solutions for achieving this balance might be finding a new, original perspective of how to approach the rapidly evolving technology.

To address the geopolitical challenge, policy-makers should try to cooperate with those who understand the need to transcend geopolitics in order to foster a common good.

Multistakeholder-based policy discussions and exchanges are seen as crucial in enabling the international community to navigate both the substantive and geopolitical challenges. In that respect, the IGF and the model it embodies play a key role.

2. International institutional agility and bottom-up approaches

There was a consensus that international institutions ought to strive to be agile to the extent possible, in order to adapt to the rapid pace of technological change. However, the challenge for international institutions is to act with agility, while maintaining a high degree of depth, accuracy and transparency. Adopting bottom-up mechanisms can help. One example for this is airline industry regulation, which developed organically based on stakeholders’ common challenges and goals.

It was suggested to focus on agile processes rather than attempting to define in advance what the substantive outcome should be. In that respect, as a practical approach, instead of tackling large issues horizontally, which often requires tremendous resources and takes time, it might be useful to break up a given subject into smaller components that can be tackled individually. The UK’s AI Safety Summit is an example of this approach. Another example is the OECD's work in developing the AI Principles: the process was relatively quick, with involvement from multiple stakeholders, and the Principles have become widely used. In addition, the OECD maintains a repository of about 400 experts that are selectively called upon to provide input on specific topics. This allows the OECD to produce outputs in an agile manner.

The IGF's Best Practice Forums are another example of how an international institution can create flexible spaces for individuals from diverse backgrounds but with similar interests can coalesce and create valuable policy work.

In that regard, multi-stakeholderism can be harnessed to empower institutional agility.

The above examples underscore that future-proofing global technology governance need not be "high-tech": there are some basic mechanisms that can serve as models to enable bottom-up approaches and greater institutional agility.

3. Common principles

Principles of transparency, openness, accountability, inclusivity, a commitment to human rights (with particular attention to the impact of technologies on vulnerable groups), and trustworthiness of technology are relevant in discussions on disruptive technologies, at a high level. These principles should ideally be embedded in the work of international institutions. The question is how to apply these principles in practice, in a context-sensitive manner.

A related issue is fragmentation of efforts: multiple international organizations dealing with similar topics, in parallel, and issuing similar, complementary or conflicting outputs (recommendations, declarations, etc.). Is this fragmentation a feature or a bug? It was suggested that, to the extent that such fragmentation produces a diversity in outputs, it can be positive. However, if it results in a duplication of efforts by international institutions, then it should be avoided. This is essentially a resourcing question.

Going forward, a number of suggestions were raised. One was to improve accessibility of information on various technologies and their respective impacts, so that stakeholders across the globe benefit from high-quality data to inform policy. One potentially ground-breaking idea was to prompt a re-thinking of how international institutions go about addressing technological issues. Global policy-making mechanisms that we are familiar with today evolved in the 19th century, and some of them might need to be updated. For example, it might be useful to think about global stakeholder-based policy making, based upon shared needs of similar stakeholders across the world, as a new mode of global governance.


There emerged a common understanding that international institutions, and the core values they embody and promote, remain as relevant as every in addressing the challenges posed by emerging technologies, but that there is a need to improve – and perhaps re-think – how they operate. To that end, existing examples of agile institutional governance and bottom-up approaches, should be studied and scaled-up, to the extent possible. Moreover, mutual understanding as well as sharing procedural know-how should be promoted.