IGF 2022 Day 3 Lightning Talk #89 Renewing the WSIS mandate: the Internet and its governance beyond 2025

The following are the outputs of the captioning taken during an IGF intervention. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.



>> MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to today's lightning talk. Thank you so much for being here. We know it's really busy time at the IGF. My name is Rose. I'm policy advisor for digital, culture media and sport focused on internet governance. I will be serving as the physical moderator. My colleague Marik will be serving as online moderator. We've planned a significant block of time for audience questions and participation in today's session. So please do feel free to use the online chat and raise hands virtually and in the room, of course, and we'll work to get to as many people as possible. Nigel and Jennifer will be speaking with us about the topic of this talk which is the WSIS plus 20 review process. And first Nigel and Jennifer, please be able to introduce yourselves.

>> NIGEL:  Microphone. Delightful to be here. I work for UK government on internet governance issues.

>> JENNIFER:  Hi, everyone. A many the director of corporate knowledge for dot Asia organization. We are the secretariat for AG Pacific IGF.

>> ROSALIND KENNYBIRCH: I wanted to provide context on what the world summit on the WSIS review process is. In 2005, governments agreed to a number of outcome documents including the agenda which legitimized global internet governance being conducted through a multi-Stakeholder model. In December 2015, as part of the first outcomes review, WSIS plus 10, member states agreed on a resolution reaffirming the initial WSIS vision of a people centered inclusive and development-oriented information society where everyone can create access utilized and share information and knowledge. The next review process agreed in the former resolution is scheduled for 2025 and we call this WSIS plus 20. The 2025 review of the world summit on the information society process is therefore a critical opportunity to renew support for multi-Stakeholder governance of the internet to endorse and where appropriate evolve the WSIS action lines and ensure the UNIGS continuation is a vital forum for facilitating dialogue on internet related issues. Strengthening consensus around the Stakeholder model can support the continued effectiveness of the internet governance.

As the review approaches, it is critical a diverse range of Stakeholders including youth, women and those from developing geographic regions are fully included in discussions on the future of the internet. The talk will explore how the review process can contribute to our shared aim at using the internet to connect all people ensuring access to information and knowledge for all. In particular, our speakers will focus on the following questions today:  How can we reaffirm and strengthen the multi Stakeholder model as part of the WSIS plus 20 review process?

How can we ensure the review process itself embraces multi-Stakeholder participation and what role the IGF has in facilitating this?

And how can we use WSIS plus 20 to set new goals in order to ensure public access to information and fundamental freedoms on the internet. I will hand over to Nigel to start us off and we'll follow with Jennifer. Thank you.

>> NIGEL:  Thank you. Please sit down. You are very welcome. There's just enough chairs. Thank you very much for coming today and thank you for those attending online. Rose, thank you very much for that introduction. That's really great. I'm sorry for this rather old space we've got this session in. We can cope, as they say. Ros set the scene for what we're going to cover today. And I've often reflected on the WSIS review process. Having been through the process, there's always a question of where you find the starting gum. When do you start a process?

To an extent, the process started very soon after the phase of the world summit on the informational society. Most of you are too young probably to remember 2003 and 2005. You might remember it in another context. But the WSIS process started after the second phase of the world summit informational society. So the WSIS process was born in Africa and here we are in Africa talking about it again. It's very appropriate.

I'll just say a couple words on the history and the process. And Ros has really covered some of the historical elements of the WSIS. I think it's important to understand that sometimes when we talk about the process, we refer to the Tunis mandate and discussions that took place at Tunis about the multi-Stakeholder process. And the respective roles of different actors. The roles of governments, the roles of business, the role of civil society, the role of the technical community. The original scope, if you like of the world summit information society was much more important in a sense. That was connectivity, sustainability, the digital divide. This was at a time in 2003 where things were just starting to emerge. Where the internet was just starting its course and yet many of us could see this was going to be so significant and the ability to embrace all the global citizens in this issue is important. The outcome of the WSIS process and action lines, the commitment we all have as governments and Stakeholders to ensure digital skills and safe environment.

Just as pertinent today as they were in 2005. And obviously, a very important component was the recommendation that the UN should set up the internet governance forum. And here we are today. Seems to be a long way since 2006. We didn't have any initiatives and now we have how many?

Jennifer is an expert on all this.

>> Over 155.

>> NIGEL:  It's fantastic. Not just having regional initiatives. We have youth initiatives as well. We can see what has happened in terms of the participation of Stakeholders in not just the WSIS process but the IGF itself has been truly remarkable. The WSIS process also established or led to the creation of the WSIS forum which as many of you know meets annually to take a stop check. We were in a better place. Clearly, so much work to do has been discussed at this UN IGF. Really is work to do. And need to embrace all Stakeholders to ensure that work is done. It will lead to December 2025 which seems a long time away to a discussion in New York and many of you won't be even invited to. That will endorse a resolution on the WSIS plus 20 or on the WSIS process. How we should move forward to that.

Between now and then, of course, we have a road to go along. And as we go along that road, there are many, if you like, people we will meet along that road and many opportunities we have to gather people together to discuss what Stakeholders want and governments want in terms of the overall process. Going back to what I said in the beginning, it's important we start preparing a working group and sustainable development goals. Played incredible role in connectivity. Always played an important role in the review process there and do so again in the WSIS plus 20 agenda. And perhaps preparing a background report that shows where we have come since 2005. The opportunities we've established and goals we've reached but also more importantly, what needs to happen post 2025. How can we move on and really commit to the goals of the original drafters of the action lines and the agenda. The reason we're talking today is we think the IGF plays an important role in this process. This year, the IGF is playing an important role is giving input on what we think about some of the issues that could be in the global digital compact. Next year in Japan, we'll be talking about the global combat and focusing on the WSIS plus 20 review process. So I'll stop there and hand over to Jennifer. Or Ros, sorry.

>> Straight to you. Many thanks.

>> JENNIFER:  Thank you. I just dropped something. No worries. It's only my phone. I don't need that at all. I have so many devices here. Thank you for providing the framing and context of what WSIS is and where we are now. And I really want to pick up from where Nigel left off. The work we have to do. We are all here at the internet governance forum. Some of us have been here longer in the beginning and some of us have joined midway and some of us might be quite new. Wondering what is so special about multi Stakeholder model?

Why does this matter so much when we're talking about the WSIS plus 20 review process and context?

All of this is based on the framework of multi literalism. It is up to the UN general assembly at the end of 2025 to tell us what the decision will be. Leading up to this process is very important for us to know that since the establishment of the IGF, multi-Stakeholder model has been and still remains the key feature and the key icing, special part we're able to talk about governance issues in a way that allows other non-state actors Stakeholders. I think if I just take a little step back, when we looked at the WSIS plus 10 review back in 2015, there was quite a clear indication that the multi Stakeholder model is good. The mandate was renewed for another 10 years. It also exposed some criticism and fierce debate on what enhanced corporation really looks like. Able to provide or be in a larger role to implement the action lines and all the outcomes.

One of the leading organizations way back in the agenda to really fight for the seat at the table for other Stakeholders, civil society, technical community, private sector to be able to add their opinions and voices especially to some quite expert topics and matters like emerging technology and AI. If we're talking about the governance of these emerging technologies as well as the governance of the internet, it is imperative to have the Stakeholders table. When you are looking at the process of the review is -- strengthens the whole process. This whole thing began. And without the consultation it's not possible to enact anything that would have recommendations to be able to implement solutions to problems that we currently face. I think when Nigel mentioned back in 2003, can't really say the dates anymore. And we really do need expertise from all these different areas to be able to input substantively into this review process.

And so I really do say there has been criticism on how some processes are quite closed and some processes are quite opaque right now. The criticism that some states only pay lip service to what multi-stakeholderism is. I'm sure all of us here at the internet governance forum, we know we're not just paying lip service to multi-stakeholderism. And really important we address it by ensuring really early and equal involvement. And participation of non-governmental actors and Stakeholders. Also from the national regional initiatives, the regional part is really important. What the IGF in play in the WSIS plus 20 review is the fact that we already have established this amazing forum and the different Stakeholders and strengthening the inter sessional work the IGF really has through the years. Continuous work throughout the policy networks. I believe that best practice forum actually gave substantive input on to the open-ended working group on cyber security that met earlier this year and continue to meet over to 2025. And there is there is the many national regional subregional youth initiatives that have really popped up. More of a grass roots popping up. Not a top-down mandate at all.

Really the only different subregions, there's up to 155 of these initiatives that meet around the year to talk about topics crucial to that locality or that region. And all of these initiatives do come to the annual IGF. A lot of them you'll see walking around here at the venue and having workshops. They bring with them valuable outputs issues and policy positions that come from their region. And I think one of the ways the IGF can really play a crucial role in the WSIS plus 20 review is to be able to gather and collate and act as a source and a center for all of these discussions and making sure that all of these good outputs. There's been criticism about outputs in the IGF. Where the mechanisms. All of the discussions we have here in the IGF, there are no negotiations going on. Openly freely. All these technical matters to do with internet governance. These form output criteria and items that can then be fed into all these different decision-making bodies as well as the WSIS plus 20 review. So I think really just want to stop there and say IGF really needs to be the place where we have these discussions.

>> ROSALIND KENNYBIRCH: Thank you so much, Jennifer. That was insightful. And thank you, Nigel as well. Okay. Great. We would now like to open it up to audience questions. As I said, we really envision this talking more focus on audience participation. So I can first take a couple of hands. Looking around, any initial hands or comments, questions?

>> Edmond here. Happy to get the discussion started. So I think it's a good thing to start this discussion early. And I think the observation that this discussion should be here at the IGF as well is useful, but I guess I have doubts and feedback into the multi-lateral decision making process is somewhat -- there is a gap there. How this bridges back to there. And I think that's something we are interested to know your thoughts.

So if I remember correctly, the WSIS plus 10 emphasized the national regional initiatives. I remember these were pertinent points. What are the other ones, how did they pan out and what other -- in this plus 20 round, what do you envision might be some additions or subtractions from the WSIS documents?

>> ROSALIND KENNYBIRCH: Thank you. Who would like to reply to that first? Happy to take two or three at a time.

>> Designed about how multilateralism is. We really do not have the deep understanding of how it can operate. So sometimes it feels the multi stakeholder we come here and speak. In the end, it's not quite substantial to represent the local sense of what happens in some of the regions. So how do we put this in a framework that can create change?

So we can empower more participation and more contextual capacity in a way that it makes sense.

>> ROSALIND KENNYBIRCH: Thank you. I'm happy to take one more. And then we can go to our panelists.

>> Hi. My name is Pete. From the Tony Blare institute. My question is similar to that. It's complicated and complex. Tends to play to the larger players in the industry. How do we think about a multi-stakeholder approach that promotes involvement from smaller organizations and isn't something that is going to entrench the status quo so to speak.

>> ROSALIND KENNYBIRCH: Thank you very much for those questions. Jennifer, please go ahead.

>> JENNIFER:  Maybe just a quick response to the question from Edmond. Since WSIS plus 10, we have had the high-level panel about that. And from that, the option paper by Germany and UAE. And within that options paper, the proposal to create the IGF plus and enhance the processes. One of the things in the options paper include a policy incubator. I use that term to reflect on the overarching inter-sessional work the IGF has done. Not just the annual forum, the outputs and the work that's done by the BP Fs. I'm trying not to use the acronyms so much.

And also the policy network. So the policy incubation part of it is enhanced. The second part is to create that leadership panel. Earlier this year, we had the announcement of the leadership panel now sat and all named. To address the existing caps where I think our participation -- participant mentioned. How do you make sure this discussion really reaches where you want it to reach. How do we improve mechanisms to make sure global south has heard or smaller companies or smaller Stakeholders or other Stakeholders are heard. The leadership panel does have the mandate to address the existing gaps in the form of the mag of the IGF and another part they do need to play is connect the dots. And so many different conversations going on right now that do impact governance. They are tasked to connect the outputs and discussions with the other current processes that are happening in ecosoc and all the cyber-security conversations. We will remain optimistic and positive they will be able to fulfill this mandate. They will be in a role to be able to connect all of these mechanisms together. And then finally, I think when I turn to your question, I myself -- technical community.

If you look around the venue, you do notice that there are fewer of us in a lot of the sessions in the agenda. Creating new technologies. We also need to be aware of policy implications and discussions that are happening at the IGF. Those currently active in the space to be able to reach out further to our fellow Stakeholders from the private sector and big tech too. They do come to the forums. They do come to the workshops. But we need to be the ones to make sure they do not entrench their advantage because they are able to come here. And we have shifted very much to working and playing and attending conferences in a hybrid manner. That equalizes a lot of the playing field as well. Even from a smaller think tank and private sector, you'll still be able to participate substantively in all of the discussions and sessions.

>> I'll try and be brief. I once gave a lecture, not a very good one on your question. So what does all this -- what is all this multi-Stakeholder stuff about?

For some of us, you can be very cynical about the inter play between the multi stakeholder and multi-lateral processes. Governments and I'm sure this doesn't happen now had a tendency to go out to public consultation to have localities of input from businesses or from other Stakeholders and completely ignore what was said in the public consultations. And even in some of the multi-lateral organizations now, still a reluctance to embrace the multi-stakeholder model. It's not just the fact we come along here and discuss things and cooperate as Stakeholders together. Your point is very important.

Not all the Stakeholders will sit down the table in 2025. We know that. We have the opportunity leading up to that to ensure those government ministers and prime ministers that sit there know that from their own country and Stakeholders. They know about the importance of the IGF so they are not blindsided. So they understand the passion and the excitement that the IGF and national regional initiatives generates. To involve many people as possible and feedback to governments and make sure everyone understands. Yes, there will be opportunity to feed input into the UN process, for the IGF to feed input into the WSIS plus 10 review. WSIS plus 20 review process. Resolutions on what should evolve after 2025 in terms of the action lines and evolving the action lines to embrace lots of the new challenges we face. At the end of the day, you are right, we'll be down to governments to agree the resolution. If we go down the route, we went for the WSIS plus 10 process, there will be co-facilitators appointed by the UNs. Diplomates on a regional basis to take into consideration the views of different bodies. And different institutions. The process in general. The importance that the IGF has become this place where people can stand up, can come together and discuss issues.

It was so good meeting some of the African parliamentarians. To have people that make decision in the room and listening to their Stakeholders is great. You're a Stakeholder. I wouldn't go out to Tony Blare and tell him he's a Stakeholder. I met him once a long time ago. But lots of other think tanks that do work in providing the process.

>> ROSALIND KENNYBIRCH: Great. Thank you so much. I will now turn to virtual questions. I believe we have a question from Vladamir. Please go ahead.

>> Yes. Thank you very much. We work together for many years. And let me say that when you speak about multi Stakeholder, speak a lot of multi stakeholderism and about -- if we look to para 35, very clear mention the distinguish. And the separate for states or private sector supported and continue to be the case in resolution. And I think we should estimate how is the situation now after 20 years. Another point there. Could see the request from us -- on forum and for enhanced calculation. Unfortunately, what was requested unlikely to finalize our work. We should to the general assembly on that. We have time, maybe we could find some other solutions for improving the IGF and any other solutions. We should agree on that. Thank you very much.

>> ROSALIND KENNYBIRCH: Thank you. Are there any other virtual questions?

Please don't be afraid to put your hand up. Or if you are struggling to raise your hand, drop a message in the chat. We can also look in the room. Great. Thank you. We've got a hand in the room.

>> Thank you. Good afternoon. My name is Eva. Mine is a simple one. I'm new in this process. I just want to know if WSIS or internet governance at the ITU level has maybe some guiding principles in terms of resolutions guiding what to do, how to do and what to achieve at the end of all these. Because if you are a newbie and hear the buzzwords being thrown around, you kind of like feeling overwhelmed. How do you get all the fragmented pieces together. The discussions that are taking place here. When one comes the next time, they know and know how to give back. Thank you.

>> ROSALIND KENNYBIRCH: Thank you very much. And do we have any other questions in the room or online?

I can take one more and then we'll head to our speakers. Great. All right. In that case, Jennifer.

>> JENNIFER:  I'm going to try to attempt to answer the question from our participant. I once was also a newbie coming into the IGF and being overwhelmed with all the topics and all the acronyms I'm trying very hard not to use as well. I think the very first thing that one can do starting back at home as well is I'm not sure if there is a Botswana IGF. If there isn't, that could be the first thing you might want to look at. Starting something that would build capacity within your borders and youth community to understand what governance is all about and topics being discussed here. The topics that we discuss at IGF is very broad and very varied.

If you look at the agenda, could be sessions of child online safety. Sessions on cyber security, human rights, freedom of expression. There's a round table. A whole bunch of main plenary session that's give high level overview of themes and topics each year. Scale up or down and understand in clear sense what is being discussed?

And now I turn to the second part of it. Where these processes then go. Where do these discussions and what we talk about, where do they then feed into?

And I guess our lightning talk is about WSIS plus 20. There are many different channels and other decision-making bodies, forums. And these are all multi-lateral mechanisms. At the end of the day, the people who do make the decisions are the state actors. They are the ones able to make decisions. The context, the discussion and the watering of the outputs do need to be multi stakeholder. Try to contact to see if there's initiative. Be able to learn on the topics and mechanisms to feed into. And you'll have a little more insights into how you can effectively participate and sit at the tables and are the concrete steps you can take.

>> Into the global initiatives. In the early days of the IGF and when we had the first national and regional initiatives, it was surprising to many of us that they sprung up in countries where perhaps no civil society and the technical community hadn't been welcomed before at the government table. And those initiatives did show how they can contribute. And I'll answer the first question. We're talking about -- this notion of enhanced corporation was something in the agenda. Enhanced corporation if we take it from an English understanding point of view is people coming together to really cooperate in a sense that makes a difference. To really work together to solve problems. To really work together to ensure that things can be taken forward. And it's not just the government listening to the Stakeholders. Also listening about the governments as well.

This is a two-way process. And I think what we've learned since 2005 is Stakeholders have so many different roles. Civil structures of society and providing networks and providing connectivity and providing ways that people can connect. The technical community plays an important role in ensuring the internet functions. The business community as we've seen plays a role in providing the infrastructure and going the extra mile to ensure the systems work. And governments have to play a role not just in public policy issues. To get involved in the other discussions and this IGF we've reflected other bodies where important work is being taken forward in the ITU and in the internet engineering task force which sets many of the standards which underpin the workings of the internet in the O EC D and UNESCO. Many other bodies that provide input into this debate. The answer to the question is the role of Stakeholders is going to evolve. Governments will always have an important role in this equation. Other Stakeholders beyond what was mentioned, academic, scientists, so many other groups as we saw in the global pandemic.

During the global pandemic what would have happened if there were no Stakeholders involved in the process, what would have happened if there were no technical community to have the networks that the health professionals could do their task. The public services that reached out to the people. What would happen in the Climate discussions. Can you imagine they take place with governments. Critically important to make those decisions as they are doing in the climate agenda. It's incredible to see what decisions governments can when they come together can make. Guided by the people understand the real issues. Complex mixture.

>> ROSALIND KENNYBIRCH: Thank you so much for outlining some of those ways you can get involved and started. Whatever country or region you are in. Definitely the IGF secretariat has things to get involved. It's my first IGF. So it can be overwhelming to even ask the question or know what question to ask about an acronym. Lean on the people around you. We're a community here. Multi Stakeholder community. And one of the benefits of that is being able to be open honest with each other and outreach to each other. Just wanted to give special thanks to Jennifer for outlining some of those resources. Great. I think we have time for maybe a couple last questions if anyone would like in the room or virtually. Opening it completely up. Any last questions.

>> I'm the current chair of affordable internet access and the internet society. Mine is not a question but some form of recommendation. Going back to the WSIS plus 10. Some of the ways being echoed by then was access the digital capacity developments. And we see all these sessions happening right now and being shipped. Also just like to recommend going forward we can going out on the same things. And the cost of devices and everything. So going forward, we should move in that direction. There's no time. We keep on going year by year. And time is moving. In order for us to achieve this meaningful access, there is need for us to catch up and also to redesign a model to how the IGF can work. Maybe we're missing gaps and policy on the local level. Or maybe on international level. Let's look at that. Thank you.

>> Thank you very much for this vital session. I am from Peru. I am a math member on IGF. And I have this question. Do you consider there is meaningful difference in annual IGF taking place in developing countries?

Versus IGF in developed countries.

>> ROSALIND KENNYBIRCH: Were you able to hear that question?

I might just give you my microphone. Any difference between IGF taking place.

>> Next year is going to be Japan. In following years, probably we think of more developing countries as well. Thank you.

>> ROSALIND KENNYBIRCH: Thank you. Thanks for repeating that. Were there any virtual questions?

Again, want to make sure everyone attending virtually has a chance to be heard whether it's a comment or a question. Okay. In that case, Nigel and Jennifer, please go ahead.

>> Thank you for your comments. It was not a question but a recommendation. It's important we do keep in mind we are trying to have meaningful connectivity for all of us. We reached the 8 billion mark. It does require a multi-stakeholder approach to be able to do that. Thank you for this and we will, of course, collectively work towards having this as a success. I want to frame it in the sense of a regional context as well. Before the IGF was here, we've had the IGF in Europe and eastern Europe for the last four years. I also was previously on the mag and there was a lot of discussion how are we sitting here talking about inclusion, access and all of that. And one segments. People that participate at the IGF reflects everywhere at the venue. Last year we had in Poland. A lot of polish participants. Interesting for them to be able to understand what the IGF is. What internet governance is and topics to the table. A lot more participation which is then further enhanced when they take back these discussions and policy issues and topics and outcomes to their home country.

So going forward, I am happy it will go back to my home region. The last time we had it was possibly my very first IGF in Istanbul. Long overdue in our region. And that would be a very good opportunity for participation to rise from Asia Pacific as well. To strongly consider the balancing and rotation of this forum. I know it's very difficult to achieve. Very imperative we do do that. And also, the developing country versus developed countries.

>> ROSALIND KENNYBIRCH: Thank you so much. Just want to get one question from Chris online. If our remaining last minute. Chris, please go ahead. And we'll hand over to Nigel to finish off. Chris, please go ahead.

>> Thank you very much. I hope I'm audible. Saw you looking. I just wanted to chip in one thing. We usually talk about leaving no one behind. The importance that we start thinking how we can include essence with disability carried them along with all the conversations. One thing I've seen is that not seen options. The gap is actually there. Thank you for the opportunity.

>> I'll be brief. We must finish because you'll have other things to do. First of all, on the gaps, yes. I mean, this is absolutely fundamental. I mentioned that we agreed action lines in 2005. The WSIS action lines. And I really do hope passionately that as we move towards 2025, the discussion on the WSIS review is how we evolve those and update them and the challenges we face today are reflected in the overall resolution that comes out of the UNGA in 2025. We address those gaps that there still are. For me, coming here and Brazil in 2015, going to Nairobi in 2011 were the highlights.

I can't quite remember everything at my age. The passion, the commitment, the sheer involvement that we see here in Ethiopia for the young people that stood up and said our government needs to change course on various policies. Great to go to different parts of the world here. And as Jennifer said to hear different perspectives from different regions. I really do hope that the IGF can swing round. There are financial and logistical considerations which are problems as well. I'll hand back to my boss.

>> ROSALIND KENNYBIRCH: Great. Well, thank you so much, everyone, for attending. Apologies, we've gone 3 minutes over. We started 3 minutes late. Hopefully, that's okay. Thank you so much for sharing your time today. This was a really useful conversation and exchange. I know what I really enjoyed about it. Really having that audience engagement and turned into a discussion. Which was really useful. So I hope you really enjoy the last day tomorrow of the IGF. Can you believe it's here already?

Please do come up and chat to us after. If you have any other questions, comments, we want to keep this conversation going. So please do engage with us. Let's not stop the conversation here. Thank you so much for your time.