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Youth Engagement at the IGF 2018 and Ways for Improvements

ABOUT

The IGF community has demonstrated its interest and commitment to enhancing  youth engagement in the IGF. The emerging growth of the existing youth IGF initiatives1 was welcomed as a positive and proactive approach  that  Internet Governance should be discussed among all stakeholders, in an open and inclusive process, following the bottom up agenda setting. The IGF community further outlined this view during the IGF Retreat to advance the 10-years IGF mandate hosted in 2016, noting that after ten years, the IGF is growing and maturing. Many positive engagement efforts were recognized, in particular as far as the youth and NRIs are concerned2.
 
In addition, alongside the self-organizing, multistakeholder youth IGF initiatives, the IGF community took concrete steps toward ensuring that the long-term discussion process shaped around the core IGF principles is maintained as a response to an increasing complexity of the Internet Governance issues and their direct influence on people’s lives.

During the 2017 IGF Taking Stock process, the IGF community called on the IGF to support improving youth engagement in the IGF processes, and in the IGF itself. In this regard, the synthesis outcome document of all received inputs to the mentioned Taking Stock process noted that a number of inputs also called for more engagement of youth, including as organisers of IGF sessions, and for supporting them to the extent possible through sponsorship programmes offered by various organisations in the IGF community3

The IGF Secretariat, within its capacity, responded to the community’s inputs as mentioned above, and conducted several open public consultations on youth engagement at the IGF. This process primarily focused on gathering existing best practices, as summarized in the dedicated publication4, and later continued to facilitate the community’s open consultation during the 12th annual IGF meeting in Geneva5, and post-meeting discussions through online consultations6

Mentioned publication on the Youth engagement at the IGF, outlined and described four major models of practices present across different communities: 

  • Practice I: Youth Initiatives organised by the national, subregional, and regional IGF initiatives
  • Practice II: Independently organised Youth Initiatives
  • Practice III: Integration of youth in the NRIs' preparatory processes or programmes
  • Practice IV: Additional projects to build youth participation in Internet Governance

These allowed for the community to understand what are the existing mechanisms that various communities implement on the matter, that further helped in mapping the areas where improvements are needed.

Finally, the overall open consultation process mentioned above, resulted in several proposals and recommendations on how to improve the engagement of youth in the IGF, now addressed to the wider IGF community.

The wider IGF community and all interested stakeholders are invited to contribute to these recommendations with their constructive comments by 6 July 2018, 23:59 p.m. UTC.

Comments added to this platform, should respond to the feasibility of the proposed activities, and to potential entities that could carry the implementation of these.
Please note that comments should be signed, and that no anonymous comments will be taken into consideration, in accordance with the IGF’s practice.

 

A BRAINSTORMED LIST OF POSSIBLE ACTIVITIES  TO STRENGTHEN YOUTH ENGAGEMENT IN THE IGF

 

SUGGESTION 1: Developing content materials for youth regarding the IGF process and topics of interest
A set of concrete materials should be developed, in order for youth to have relevant, comprehensive resources to consult in order to build awareness of the IGF; its purpose and core principles, and how to engage. These materials should be focused on the IGF process, including user-friendly materials on how to engage via online participation; and on the substantial topical issues that are being discussed at the IGF.

While the materials that explain the IGF process could be developed by the IGF Secretariat, substantive topical materials could be developed by the relevant experts from the IGF community; drawn from the intersessional work efforts, etc. 

SUGGESTION 2: Organize info-webinars to explain the IGF process and annual meeting structure 
Prior to the annual IGF meeting, a set of webinars could be organized to explain the IGF process, and annual meeting structure, to help in preparing participants for the annual IGF meeting.
It was advised that the IGF Secretariat facilitates the process.

SUGGESTION 3: Establish a mentoring or coaching  programme
To establish a programme for making possible for youth to be connected to more experienced stakeholders from the IGF community. It was suggested that the MAG members, the Dynamic Coalitions (DCs) coordinators and the National, Regional and Youth IGF Initiatives (NRIs) coordinators could be a good starting point source for implementing this activity. 
It was proposed that there could be online meetings between the mentors and mentees prior to the annual face to face IGF meeting. An online webinar between all mentors and mentees could be organized prior to the annual face-to-face IGF meeting. 
Mentors would advise on how to integrate and benefit from the IGF, and potentially, on topics of interest to mentees.
Alternatively, the mentorship programme could be organized as a peer-to-peer concept.
 

SUGGESTION 4: Online observatory of available resources
The IGF Secretariat could facilitate coordination activities with various formations focused on youth engagement at the IGF, and have these connected with other stakeholders of relevance who agree to a specific youth dialogue. 
The community noted that there are many available opportunities for youth engagement present globally, but that there is a lack of unique searchable resources. It was suggested to create an online observatory of relevant informational resources and opportunities.  
The Internet Community Wiki Platform could be a potential partner for developing this platform, where all stakeholders, independently, could upload information of relevance for the youth community.  

SUGGESTION 5: Dedicated sessions on the topic of youth engagement to be organized during the annual IGF meeting
During the 13th IGF, a dedicated session focused on different models of youth engagement at the IGF should be organized. The session should allow for an exchange of good practices.
It was noted that there are at least four existing models, including involvement of youth activities/initiatives within existing NRIs, thus session facilitation is proposed to be organized in a bottom up process, facilitated by the IGF Secretariat.

SUGGESTION 6: Facilitating IGF related updates
It was suggested that a dedicated mailing list for announcing IGF related updates is needed. A 'news announcements from the IGF' online section could be developed and moderated by the IGF Secretariat.  

LIST OF REFERENCES

1List of recognized Youth IGF Initiatives. Available at: https://www.intgovforum.org/multilingual/content/youth-initiatives
2IGF RETREAT PROCEEDINGS: Advancing the 10-Year Mandate of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). Available at: https://www.intgovforum.org/multilingual/index.php?q=filedepot_download/..., page 13, section 3.
3Synthesis Paper: Contributions to Taking Stock of IGF 2017 and Looking Forward to IGF 2018. Available at: http://www.intgovforum.org/multilingual/index.php?q=filedepot_download/5..., page 9, paragraph 33.
 4Youth engagement at the IGF: looking at existing examples of practices. Available at: https://www.intgovforum.org/multilingual/index.php?q=filedepot_download/...
 5Work Meeting with Youth Initiative at the 2017 IGF annual meeting: summary report. Available at: https://www.intgovforum.org/multilingual/index.php?q=filedepot_download/...
 6Youth engagement at the IGF and ways for improvements: Open Consultations with the Youth IGF initiatives and other stakeholders: summary report available at: http://www.intgovforum.org/multilingual/content/igf-2018-nris-preparator...

Contact Information

United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 678