IGF 2023 WS #373 Building rights-based DPI to support Pacific Island States


Global Digital Governance & Cooperation
Harmonising Global Digital Infrastructure

Organizer 1: Jessica Bither, Robert Bosch Stiftung
Organizer 2: Yu Ping Chan, 🔒
Organizer 3: David Lonnberg, Global Centre for Climate Mobility

Speaker 1: Jessica Bither, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Giulio Coppi, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Yu Ping Chan, Intergovernmental Organization, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 4: Astha Kapoor, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group


Jessica Bither, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator

David Lonnberg, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization


David Lonnberg, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization


Break-out Group Discussions - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

• What are the key building blocks that are required to build up a safe and inclusive digital public infrastructure that are people-centered and rights-based in the context of preparing communities for climate threats?
• What are key lessons and examples we can draw from to inform both choice in technical design, the design process itself, and in terms of digital governance going forward?
• And what lessons could we draw that could become an example for other climate-impacted communities and small island states?

What will participants gain from attending this session? The session will contextualize and unpack what is meant by “human-centered” DPI that addresses the needs and future for governments and citizens of Small Island Developing States specifically, and communities needing to adapt to climate threats more generally. The aim is to further develop and dive deeper into essential building blocks for such a digital public infrastructure, including governance principles and technical design choices, and in terms of building a sustainable technology that prepares communities for an uncertain future. It will draw from specific examples and lessons from other contexts and identify what criteria and components are essential, if such digital systems are to be truly rights- preserving and protecting.


Amidst the deepening of the climate crisis and sea level rise, the territories of Tuvalu and other Pacific Atoll nations are rapidly becoming uninhabitable, forcing communities and families to relocate. The international system – be it climate change processes, public international law and even broader discourse – is ill-equipped to address these issues. At the same time, the immense potential of digital technologies in today’s world can, and must, be effectively leveraged in adaptation and mitigation strategies.

The Rising Nations Initiative’s Digital Nation State Programme in partnership with Robert Bosch Stiftung is supporting to develop a digital infrastructure that allows for strengthened governance, administration and connectivity between citizens and government amidst the disruptive challenges of the climate crisis, and in preparation for possible relocation and growing dispersal of the population. It is essential that this developed in a way that is future-oriented, safeguards core human and digital rights, and that is based on a sustainable tech architecture that is grounded in the specific needs of the government and local communities.

This session will focus on identifying the key building blocks for a true human-centered digital public infrastructure focusing on the governance and technical design choices related (but not limited to) identity, payments or data flows, and processes for development and use of such technology that ensure safeguards for rights, privacy, and individual agency. It will further identify necessary next steps and coalition building to prioritize the most crucial digital dimensions for communities facing the unprecedented threat of sea level rise and disappearing homelands.

Expected Outcomes

The session will serve as a key point for further building the digital component of the Digital Nation State Programme in preparing small island states for inevitable sea rise, loss of home and potential options for adaption and preparing for a future. It would also serve as an important space for building a community of practice and coalitions to be able to move with the urgency of the current climate risks. The interactive discussion among experts, policymakers, civil society and practitioners will serve to refine key criteria for a truly human- centered development and design of such technology and to identify next steps for action. The organizers intend to use both the content and insights form the discussion as a crucial point to operationalize the Digital Nation State Program, specifically its rights-based and future oriented components, and to build a network and partnerships with of trusted institutions and individuals.

Hybrid Format: As a breakout session format, organizers will ensure that both onsite and online participants can participate in all parts of the discussion. Different elements of the session will include a general setting the scene for the topic with short 3-minute inputs meant to spark imagination and creativity, while the actual breakout parts of the session will be very specific in assigning a question and brainstorming task for each group. Online participants will participate in their own virtual groups (as hybrid group discussions tend to be frustrating for everyone involved), the feedback and collection of insights from the different groups will again be done with everyone together onsite and online. During the final reflection round, questions and reflections will be drawn from both online and onsite participants. Other digital tools used can include brief surveys (such as mentimeter), a digital online whiteboard and others as needed.