The annual meetings of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) have been consolidated as the main space for discussion and exchange of ideas among the stakeholders of the Internet community on an equal footing. However, there are diverse activities which take place throughout the year that require the participation of all the actors of the community.
The Intersessional Activities
The concept of Dynamic Coalitions (DCs) emerged during the first IGF meeting in 2006. These are informal groups, focused on specific topics that report their activities to the IGF Secretariat each year. Currently, there are 17 active coalitions, which involve diverse topics ranging from accessibility and disability to Internet core values. It is possible to join the work of each of them by accessing the site published by the IGF Secretariat.
On the other hand, following the recommendations of the Working Group on IGF Improvements, the IGF community promoted the creation of the Best Practice Forums (BPFs) as a way to generate more tangible outcomes. For the 2018 cycle, four BPFs were approved; all of them are currently seeking feedback from the community. Some of them have a deadline of September 30, while others will receive contributions until October 15. All dates are considered as soft deadlines, so all interested stakeholders are invited to contribute.
Finally, the Policy Options for Connecting and Enabling the Next Billion (CENB) project activated its Phase IV as part of the IGF 2018 preparatory cycle. The project is focused on concrete examples of how connectivity efforts help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 7 (clean energy), SDG 8 (work and economic growth), SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure) and SDG 17 (partnerships to achieve the SDGs). CENB Phase IV accepts contributions no later than September 30, although it is also a soft deadline.
Information about these activities was shared with the community through a webinar whose recording is publicly available.
It’s Time to Strengthen the IGF
Historically, the Internet Society has shown a strong commitment to the IGF. Since its first meeting we have been a support force both logistically (through funding or fellowships), as well as in public debates, by organizing sessions at the annual meetings and by contributing to MAG meetings and Intersessional activities.
This commitment remains intact, as Raúl Echeberría, Vice President of Global Engagement of the Organization, pointed out during the eleventh meeting of LACIGF. We are convinced that the IGF is the most innovative experience of international governance in the last decades, so we must be proud of what we have achieved. However, it is necessary to evaluate what actions can be taken to improve the IGF.
In March, prior to the first MAG 2018 meeting, Raúl shared with the community some ideas to make the IGF more attractive and, thus, be better prepared to face current and future challenges. The proposals are practical and concrete: have more focused discussions, produce more tangible outcomes, reduce the number of parallel sessions that compete among each other and encourage attendees to actively participate in the debates.
The IGF has been fundamental to the Internet community. We have invested a lot in building this unique space, in which the diverse actors have learned to work together, in accordance with the principles of the multistakeholder model. If the IGF is not attractive enough and Internet Governance discussions are taken to other spaces, we must start from scratch and re-create the forms of participation we have created in the IGF.
Some of the changes can be implemented at the 2018 meeting, which will take place in Paris from November 12-14. Some others will have to wait for the 2019 cycle and later, but the most important thing is that the stakeholders of the community find consensus around the idea of the need for these adaptations. It is in favor of the IGF and the benefit will be shared by all.
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