The following was contributed by Bill Graham*
The Internet Society played a significant role in the second meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Rio de Janeiro in December, 2007. ISOC hosted an Open Forum on ISOC’s work and worked with partners to organize or participate in nine other sessions, including the Opening and Closing Panels of the IGF itself.
Planning has now begun for the 2008 IGF, which will be held in Hyderabad, India from 3-6 December. ISOC Board of Trustees members, ISOC staff members, and a large number of ISOC members participated in the IGF Open Consultations held in Geneva on 26 February 2008. The meeting was convened in the United Nations headquarters and was attended by
approximately 100 people from civil society, the private sector, governments, and international organizations.
Discussions at the meeting focused on four topics:
– an assessment of the 2007 Rio IGF – discussion of topics for the 2008 IGF – renewal of the IGF Advisory Group, and – presentations by organizations and dynamic coalitions on their Internet governance-related work.
ISOC submitted a written contribution to the meeting in advance and spoke twice in the meeting. The contribution is available on the ISOC web site at:
Speaking for ISOC, Bill Graham (who leads Strategic Global Engagement activities, including the IGF) congratulated the Brazilian hosts for a successful meeting in Rio. He stressed the importance of ensuring that the IGF becomes more practical and useful to those interested in the practice of Internet governance. He commented that ISOC considered it time now for the IGF to really draw out the concrete work and the concrete developments that have happened as a result of its meetings, in terms of the work that’s being done by various stakeholders and various communities. This work is not yet adequately captured in a way that allows people to easily get a good picture of how successful the IGF has been. He went on to say that moving forward to India, the IGF needs to focus more on fostering contributions to Internet governance at the national, regional, and international levels. Successful multistakeholder Internet governance discussions at the local level are essential to progressing Internet governance at the global level. Looking forward to the third IGF, ISOC recommended building on
opportunities to expand the work being done by dynamic coalitions and
others who are working together in formal and informal ways to make a
As a main focus, ISOC suggested there be a major focus on getting the next billion – or billions – online. That challenge is real and highlights many, many challenges for governance of the Internet itself, including scalability and sustainability issues. Bill said that taking this very practical focus would allow the IGF to practically address many facets of the themes discussed in its first meetings (access, openness, security, diversity, and critical Internet resources). It also will have direct and important linkages to development and capacity building. Focusing on the “next billion” gained prominence in Rio and ISOC believes it’s now time to better understand and address the challenges that this entails. He said that this is something to which the IGF is uniquely positioned to contribute. Learning and collaboration are essential to identifying the challenges and highlighting the solutions to problems of how the Internet is governed.
The Internet Governance Forum should serve primarily as a facilitator, providing opportunities for action-oriented, formal and informal workshops and meetings. To make that possible, ISOC suggested the Hyderabad meeting should provide a large networking and display space for all stakeholder groups to present their real-world experiences and their efforts to make Internet governance happen locally, nationally, regionally, and internationally.
The themes that ISOC raised in the Open Consultations were picked up by many other peakers during the day and the suggestions were taken into the IGF Advisory Group meetings that followed. ISOC is planning to promote those suggestions during the coming year, particularly through regional INET meetings and by continuing the successful Ambassador’s programs for the 2008 meeting.
____________________________________ *From the Internet Society Member Newsletter – Volume 7 Number 2 February 2008.