During the years, the Internet Governance Forum has triggered the formation of more and more national and regional IGF initiatives (such as the European Dialogue on Internet Governance, the Africa IGF, Canada IGF, Russian IGF, etc).
Although they all share the adherence to the IGF principles (multistakeholderism, openness and inclusiveness), these regional and national initiatives were created in order to address Internet-related issues which are relevant and particularly interesting for the respective regions/countries (unlike the IGF, which is focused on global Internet issues).
At this year’s IGF, these initiatives met during an inter-regional dialogue session meant to allow them to share experiences about their activities and to discuss about Internet governance issues which are considered as emerging at regional/national level.
During these exchange, an impressive number of Internet governance emerging issues were identified. Although some of these issues are also addressed at the IGF, they are looked into from a global perspective, while the national and regional IGF initiatives offer stakeholders the possibility to analyse them from a more local perspective, in line with local realities and contexts. Also, while some of these issues may have already been tackled in several countries/regions (and are, therefore, no longer considered as emerging), they continue to be viewed as emerging in different parts of the world.
Below are some of the Internet governance emerging issues raised during the national and regional IGF initiative meetings in 2011 and/or 2012:
- threats to the multistakeholder model in Internet governance and the sustainability of this model;
- the need for IG capacity building;
- lack of support and/or interest in IG issues from various stakeholder groups (such as the local business and academia);
- cybercrime and cybersecurity;
- online child protection;
- development of local content;
- consumers protection in the information society;
- digital literacy;
- acceptable behaviour on the Internet;
- safe and responsible use of the Internet;
- youth engagement and empowerment;
- provision of broadband connectivity and development of broadband networks; building IXPs;
- mobile Internet access;
- transition from IPv4 to IPv6;
- cloud computing;
- government-citizens interactions, e-government, e-democracy;
- open data;
- sovereignty online; jurisdictional issues;
- Internet as a public good;
- human rights, freedom of expression, privacy and data protection;
- intellectual property rights;
- law enforcement on the Internet;
- self-regulation/soft regulation in IG;
- ICT/Internet for disaster relief/recovery;
- openness, universality and neutrality of the Internet.
Can the regional and national IGF initiatives have a role in addressing these issues? Can they contribute to identifying solutions for the problems generated by these issues? I would say yes. Because the existence of these initiatives encourages multistakeholder discussions on such emerging issues, and these discussions can then influence and inform the policy making decisions processes taking place within national and regional decision/making bodies.