Webinar: 16 Years of IGF Evolution and Strengthening – Taking Stock and Looking Forward

Wednesday, 17th November, 2021 (13:00 UTC) - Wednesday, 17th November, 2021 (14:30 UTC)
About this Session

Facilitated by MAG Chair in collaboration with the MAG Working Group on IGF Strategy and Strengthening

Interactive moderated panel that will look back and take stock of how the IGF has evolved and what its key achievements have been; reflect on the current and future internet governance ecosystem and the IGF’s role in this ecosystem, particularly in the context of ‘digital cooperation’ and the UN-Secretary General’s proposed ‘global digital compact’. The panel will consider the role the IGF has and can play in inclusive internet governance, both through the further development of the multistakeholder approach and through closer engagement with multilateral processes. Finally the session will consider what is meant by the idea of a “stronger, more focused and impactful IGF” and propose specific steps to be taken to establish a stronger, more strategic IGF that operates on the basis of a multi-year plan working to the goal of the idea of an “IGF plus” with the institutional capacity, leadership and oversight needed to see it through the renewal of its mandate in 2025 and beyond.

Process: The meeting will divided into roughly three parts with panelists speaking @ 20 minutes in each, with the remaining time reserved for open discussion with all participants.  

Moderators: Anriette Esterhuysen, MAG chair and William Drake, Columbia University, former MAG and WGIG member

Rapporteurs:  Giacomo Mazzone, past MAG member and member, MAG WG-strategy, Roman Chukov and Amrita Choudhury (MAG WG-strategy co-chairs)


Part I: Past/Origins 

  1. Markus Kummer – IGF Support Association,  WGIG and past IGF Executive Coordinator and interim MAG chair - CONFIRMED
  2. Wolfgang Kleinwächter – WGIG and EuroSSIG - CONFIRMED
  3. Christine Arida - Strategic Planning Sector Head at National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) of Egypt a past host country of the IGF - CONFIRMED

PART II – Present dynamics

  1. Fiona Alexander – past MAG member and previously with the NTIA and member of MAG WG strategy - CONFIRMED
  2. Flavio Wagner - past MAG member and member of MAG WG-strategy - CONFIRMED
  3. Parminder Jeet Singh, IT For Change (cs) - CONFIRMED 
  4. Esteve Sanz, Head of Sector EC - member of MAG WG-strategy (gov) - CONFIRMED

Part III: Futures/Options

  1. Yu Ping Chan, Office of the UN SG’s Envoy on Technology - CONFIRMED
  2. Concettina Cassa - past MAG member and co-chair WG-strategy (Gov) - CONFIRMED
  3. Mark Carvell - EuroDIG Member and former UK government policy advisers and MAG member. Member of MAG WG-strategy - CONFIRMED

Questions and topics to be addressed 

Part I: Past/Origins  

1. Over the years there have been various expressions of frustration with the IGF supposedly being just a “talk shop” that does not take binding decisions.  But this is an essential part of the IGF’s DNA, as it is what governments and stakeholders at the 2005 Tunis WSIS summit thought was needed and what they could agree to.  To set the stage for our discussion, please reflect on the considerations and processes that shaped the fundamental features of the IGF’s design and made it what it has become today.

2.  The IGF Mandate approved by the 2005 Tunis WSIS summit included provisions stating that the IGF should “Promote and assess, on an ongoing basis, the embodiment of WSIS principles in Internet Governance processes;” and “Identify emerging issues, bring them to the attention of the relevant bodies and the general public, and, where appropriate, make recommendations.”  To what extent has the IGF pursued these objectives?  What has been achieved or not regarding these functions, and why?

3.  The global Internet governance agenda has evolved significantly over the past sixteen years, with many of the issues and political dynamics that animated early IGFs drifting from center stage while new ones came to the fore.  What have been the key shifts in substantive focus and institutional dynamics over the course of the IGF’s history to date?

Part II – Present dynamics

1.  Name one positive change or achievement that you feel can be attributed to the IGF. Is there anything significant that might have turned out differently if we had not had the IGF?

2. Has the IGF altered the global discourse or debate in any significant ways? How much does such discourse and soft norms matter, relative to negotiated formal agreements?

3.  The IGF has spawned new collaborative processes that work on an intersessional basis and then feed into the meetings, e.g. the policy networks, the NRIs, the DCs and the BPFs.  Have these efforts yielded any important results? What could be done to increase their salience? What roles could they play going forward as the landscape of Internet governance and digital cooperation continues to evolve?

4.  How has the multistakeholder approach worked in the IGF? Is it continuing to develop conceptually and practically, or has it stagnated? If it has, what can be done to renew it?

Part III: Futures/Options

1.  There have been various calls, including from high-level government figures, for the IGF to produce more tangible outcomes.  What forms could these take? What would be needed for the international community to agree to such a process and outcome?

2.  With regard to the United Nations’ Roadmap and Common Agenda, what roles and value-added do you see for the IGF?  Do you see a specific role of the IGF with regard to the proposed Global Digital Compact?

3.  What is your view of the terms of reference for the new Leadership Panel (formerly referred to as the MHLB)? How can we make this a useful grouping?  What about the MAG, do its terms of reference and functioning need to change? 

4. Proposals have been made for the IGF Secretariat and MAG to work collaboratively on a multi-year plan. Do you think this is feasible? How would you go about developing and implementing such a plan?

5.  Name one aspect of how the IGF operates that you would change, and one aspect you would like to retain.