IGF 2018 WS #204
How do we train leaders for 21st century democracies?


Organizer 1: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Speaker 1: Sandra Cortesi, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Rachel Pollack Ichou, Intergovernmental Organization, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Matias Bianchi, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)


Break-out Group Discussions - 90 Min


During the first segment, each speaker will speak about their perspectives and their initiatives towards engaging democratic leaders to open principles and internet-led innovations.

Confirmed speakers are:
Sandra Cortesi, Berkman Klein Center (North America - Female - Academia). Sandra Cortesi is the Director of the Youth and Media project at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University. Sandra’s expertise in the field of youth digital literacy and inclusion, as well as her close and ongoing collaboration with multiple youth stakeholders, enables her to address the current status of youth in the digital economy, as well as to point out future trends. Stemming from ongoing qualitative research with young people across the US, Sanda will act as a conduit for the voices of disadvantaged youth who may not be able to participate.
Rachel Pollock Ichou, UNESCO (Western Europe - Female - Intergovernmental Organization). Rachel Pollack Ichou is an international researcher and project manager specialized in Internet governance and human rights. Rachel currently serves as Associate Programme Specialist in Freedom of Expression and Media Development at UNESCO. She has actively participated in national, regional and international events related to internet governance, including the 2015 IGF as a European Summer School on Internet Governance fellow, EuroDIG 2016 as an Internet Society fellow, and ICANN 55 as a NextGen@ICANN participant. She is also a member of ICANN’s Non-Commercial Stakeholder Group and contributes to ICANN's cross-community work related to human rights. She is a graduate of Harvard University, the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford and the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales.
Matias Bianchi, Academia de Innovación Política (Latin America - Male - Civil society). Matias Bianchi is a political scientist with a PhD from the Institute d´Études Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po). Previously, he has worked for the Latin American Program of the Woodrow Wilson Center, the UNDP, the Government of Argentina and the Development Center of the OECD. He is the director of the think tank Asuntos del Sur and its training program "Academia de Innovación Política".

We have already contacted two other possible speakers, representing Africa and government respectively so that we add diverse voices to the conversation and socialize more initiatives.


The proposed session seeks to gather a variety of stakeholders and represent different geographical regions. We will ensure to bring to the discussion all stakeholder groups, gender diversity and have intergenerational perspectives at the table and groups. We will also encourage remote participation.
Of our 3 confirmed Speakers, 2 are female.
Our Speakers are from Latin America, North America and Western Europe.
Our speakers represent 3 stakeholders.
However, we very much intend to add more and diverse voices to the conversation.

We are in the presence of a politically organized society, which has been undergoing changes in Latin America and the world. New forms of political participation in democracy are emerging. Political actors with network logics, collaboration ethics and a vision of political innovation are promoting a qualitative change in the way society is organized and in the way citizens and the political system relate to each other. Politics, however, has remained (somewhat) stagnant. It needs to be reinvented to account for the social demands, political practices and technological possibilities of the 21st century.

The purpose of this workshop is thus to gather diverse stakeholder views and proposals on what are the challenges of training social and political leaders for responding to a changing society and its demands for open 21st century democracies. What are the tools and knowledges they need to be trained with?

During the first 30 minutes, speakers will give a brief overview of why and how their initiatives are addressing the training of social and political leaders.

Following that introduction, participants will break out into groups for focused exchanged for 40 minutes. Participants will choose in which group to participate (or they can rotate), and will be asked to answer specific questions related to the topic of the session. One group will discuss what are the characteristics that a 21st century social and political leader should have; a second group will discuss the digital tools that social and political leaders need to use; and a third group will discuss how could the different stakeholders work together in the training of such leaders. Co-organizers and speakers will be allocated to each group to aid group work.

In the final segment (20 minutes) discussants and a nominated participant from each group will report back to the plenary and the onsite moderator will do a wrap-up of the session.

The proposed session is the break-out group discussion format. We have chosen such a format to promote an informal and intimate discussion on the proposed topics among participants. Participants would also participate at the groups they feel more attracted to or curious about. It emphasises grassroots proposals and professional networking.

The proposed dynamics is the following:
- Onsite moderator opens the session and introduces the speakers. (5 min)
- Each speaker will give a brief overview of why and how their initiatives are addressing the training of social and political leaders (25 min)
- Participants will break out into groups for focused exchanged for 40 minutes. Participants will choose in which group to participate (or they can rotate), and will be asked to answer specific questions related to the topic of the session. There will be at least one facilitator to make sure all participants have equal opportunities to speak and that respect is being favored.
- Wrap-up (20 minutes)

The world is facing changes as a result of the digital revolution, global warming, and blurring national borders, but institutional frameworks and leaders seem ill equipped to produce adequate responses to those challenges.

We see citizens building platforms and organizing themselves in more direct, deliberative, and cooperative manners. We also see collaborative and open economic models that provide opportunities for all and offer an almost zero marginal cost. Yet, these initiatives are not widespread, and most civic education initiatives still train our citizens for the 20th century.

In 2016, we studied how Latin America is educating adult leaders (ages 21-45). After mapping and analyzing 165 programs, we found out that none was addressing current challenges with newly available tools and ideas. Therefore, training a generation of leaders with the values, tools and practices available in our 21st century society, such as open and transparent ethics, plurality of origin, p2p practices, aimed at training in the use of technology to democratize politics, is a condition sine qua non to achieve the SDG.

It is therefore crucial to rethink how we are training social and political leaders to face 21st century challenges with the available and emerging technologies and tools, as well as engaging them with open logics and practices. This debate is central to the discussion of democracy and human rights.

Online Participation

The appointed online moderator will take part of the preparatory process of the session in order to be updated of the initiatives and topics that will be discussed. Prior to the session (s)he will boost a social media campaign to drive interest on the session and engage on related discussions. This campaign will also be fed by Asuntos del Sur’s broad and international network of actors (activists, researchers, public servants, civil society organizations, etc.), who will be driven to the conversation through remote participation. During the session, the online moderator will facilitate online discussion and will connect with the facilitators in each group to bring the key points that have been discussed during the social media campaign and the questions or comments raised during the session itself. During the wrap-up (s)he will also have 5 minutes to resume what has been discussed online. In case there are smaller questions raised by online participants, and thanks to his/her prior preparation, the moderator will answer them directly.