Inclusive Internet governance ecosystems and digital cooperation


The Internet’s contribution to social, cultural and economic growth and opportunity is recognised, but with its increased role and importance to societies, individuals and economies – well illustrated during the global pandemic – come key questions of governance, accountability, misuse and access. When approaching the governance of the Internet, most institutions, including governments, tend to turn to models they understand or are familiar with, rather than thinking about what might work in the future. Coordinating and consolidating collaborative and inclusive Internet governance is increasingly challenging. Recent discussions about the roles and responsibilities of governments and international corporations have raised issues relating to digital sovereignty, data localisation, national security, economic growth, the governance structures of a borderless Internet, cross-border business transactions, and human rights. In consequence, the precise nature, scope, and modalities of digital sovereignty have become pressing topics in a wide range of contexts. Nevertheless, there has not been any organised and fully inclusive global debate about the reasons for and manifold consequences of digital sovereignty initiatives. The IGF could be well placed to foster such a dialogue. 

There is also a need for further engagement on the evolution of the IGF itself as a widely distributed and inclusive platform for deliberating on inclusive Internet governance processes and ecosystems. What opportunities are provided by the current focus on digital cooperation resulting from the UN Secretary-General's Roadmap for digital cooperation? How to strengthen the capacities of policymakers, business and citizens to stay abreast of the rapid technological developments and adequately engage in Internet governance discussions to respond to the challenges these developments present? What is the future of multistakeholder Internet governance and who will shape it?

Another question to address touches on how the technical governance of the protocols and procedures that underpin an interconnected Internet relate to the ongoing Internet public policy discourses.

Policy questions 

  1. Digital sovereignty: What is meant by digital sovereignty? What implications does it have for the global nature of the Internet, for Internet governance itself, and the effectiveness of the multistakeholder approach? From an opposite angle, what are the implications of the Internet and digitalisation for national sovereignty?
  2. Assessing Internet governance approaches and mechanisms and fostering inclusiveness: What are the main strengths and weaknesses of existing Internet governance approaches and mechanisms? What can be done, and by whom, to foster more inclusive Internet governance at the national, regional and international levels? 
  3. Governance and cooperation for an evolving Internet: How does Internet governance need to change in order to meet the changing nature and role of the Internet? What tools, mechanisms, and capacity building instruments are needed for stakeholders to effectively cooperate, and engage in Internet governance? 
  4. Technical Internet governance: How can the technical governance of the Internet (e.g. the development of standards and protocols, and the management of critical resources) take into account the needs and views of all stakeholders?
  5. Advancing global digital cooperation: What opportunities are provided by the current focus on digital cooperation resulting from the UN Secretary-General's Roadmap for digital cooperation? What role should the IGF play (and how) in advancing global digital cooperation?

Related issues

  • Digital cooperation, digital sovereignty, multistakeholder cooperation, Internet infrastructure, capacity development, national and regional Internet governance cooperation, Internet Governance Forum, technical Internet governance, inclusive Internet governance