IGF 2023 Open Forum #45 The Virtual Worlds we want: Governance of the future web


Blockchain, Digital Assets & Web 3-based Ecosystems
Virtual/Augmented Reality

Panel - 90 Min


Title: The Virtual Worlds we want: Discussion on how to design the Governance of the future web Description: Virtual Worlds (also referred to as “metaverses”) are set to change the way we interact with the Internet and with each other and are expected to enable more immersive and customised experiences in the digital space. Virtual Worlds form an important part of the forthcoming generation of the Internet and may enable a wealth of new social and business opportunities. The concept of Virtual Worlds has been around for a long time but thanks to technological developments it is now a true possibility. Applications in healthcare, education, design, logistics, engineering, and manufacturing can drive development in those industries . For example, Digital Twins, the virtual representation of physical products, systems, processes, or even people can be used for research and development and bring about dramatic productivity increases. Creative Industries have embraced Virtual Worlds and provide more widely known use-cases of Virtual Worlds such as immersive games and virtual cultural experiences. Virtual Worlds blend the digital and physical world but may also blur deeply the boundaries between the two worlds. Moreover, Virtual Worlds impact how citizens interact with the digital environment. Therefore, it is of essence that an appropriate design and governance model is put in place. The European Union aims for an open, stable, free, inclusive, global, interoperable, reliable, secure, and sustainable Internet and this applies to Virtual Worlds as well. The multistakeholder internet governance model has proven to be key to safeguard The Internet We Want and provides direct opportunities for Empowering All People to take part in the conversation. This open forum will discuss the key drivers of this new wave of the web and explore the critical elements of the design and governance of the virtual worlds, in order to ensure their openness, interoperability, and inclusiveness. The discussion will ultimately attempt to outline possible multistakeholder governance models of Virtual Worlds, explore the role of standards, and reflect on the key citizen-engagement factors. The session will be organised in the form of a Panel and will allow for interactive participation. The panel members are first given the floor and will provide their perspective on the design and governance model befitting the Virtual Worlds. Thereafter, both online and on-site participants will have the chance to intervene and ask relevant questions to the panel. The session will be moderated on-site, supported by an online moderator from the European Commission. A background paper will be made available early July [An EU initiative on virtual worlds: a head start in the next technological transition | Shaping Europe’s digital future (europa.eu)].

Additional resources: - Virtual Worlds fit for people: https://digital-strategy.ec.europa.eu/en/policies/virtual-worlds - Metaverse People, technologies & infrastructure – Europe's plan to thrive in the metaverse I Blog of Commissioner Thierry Breton: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/STATEMENT_22_5525 - Extended reality – opportunities, success stories and challenges in health and education: https://digital-strategy.ec.europa.eu/en/library/extended-reality-oppor… - Virtual worlds panel: https://citizens.ec.europa.eu/virtual-worlds-panel_en

We expect some speakers to be present on-site, while others will engage online. Thus, the session will take place in a hybrid format, with full participation for both online and on-site participants. The European Commission has ample experience hosting hybrid sessions, and this session is designed for hybrid participation. The online and on-site moderator will collaborate closely, to facilitate valuable interaction between the online and on-site speakers and participants. Online participants will be able to raise questions and concerns through the chat, which will be monitored by the online moderator. During the open floor part of the session, online and on-site questions and interventions will be addressed with equal importance. All questions will be addressed in chronological order, and the online moderator will inform the on-site moderator of questions in the chat.


European Commission
Esteve Sanz: European Commission (DG CNECT, Unit E3), Intergovernmental Organisation, WEOG Hubert Romaniec: European Commission (DG CNECT, Unit E3), Intergovernmental Organisation, EEG [online moderator and rapporteur]


The list of speakers is as follows:

1. Pearse O'Donohue - European Commission, Director for the Future Networks Directorate od DG CNNECT  - [opening keynote].

2. Miapetra Kumpula-Natri -  Member of the European Parliament; European Parliament [on-site moderator].

3. Cathy Li - Head, AI, Data and Metaverse; Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum Geneva [on-line].

4. Bitange Ndemo - professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Nairobi’s Business School, former permanent Secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Information and Communication, Kenya’s Ambassador to Belgium.

5. Dr. Masahisa Kawashima - IOWN Technology Director, Research and Development Market Strategy Division, NTT Corporation

6. Tatsuya Yanagibashi, Chief Technology Officer for Japan Nokia Solutions and Networks G.K.

Onsite Moderator

On-site Moderator is identified in the list of speakers (#1)

Online Moderator

Hubert Romaniec


Josephine Njambi (Kenya)



Targets: 8.2: Virtual Worlds have the potential to drive economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading, and innovation. 9.5: Virtual Worlds have the potential to upgrade the technological capabilities of industrial sectors. 10.3: A goal of this session is to promote appropriate policies for Virtual Worlds. 10.6: The multistakeholder governance model plays a large part in ensuring enhanced representation and voice for all players, in particular developing countries and underrepresented groups. 16.7: The goal of the session is to encourage an open conversation on the governance of Virtual Worlds and how to include the multistakeholder community and thereby ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory, and representative decision-making. 17.6: The IGF is the forum for knowledge sharing in the multistakeholder community of the Internet. With this session, we intend to mobilise the knowledge and expertise held in this community and explore how the multistakeholder internet governance model may be applied to Virtual Worlds.