IGF 2023 Town Hall #134 The Digital Knowledge Commons: a Global Public Good?

Tuesday, 10th October, 2023 (11:30 UTC) - Tuesday, 10th October, 2023 (12:30 UTC)
Room C-1

Data Free Flow

Birds of a Feather - 60 Min


The Global Digital Compact sets out the importance of the Digital Commons as a global public good, underlining the need for meaningful discussions about how these can be protected, promoted, and governed. A key example is the global knowledge commons which itself receives strong attention in UNESCO’s Futures of Education report as the essential raw material for enabling education, innovation, cultural rights, and much else besides. This session therefore looks to bring together players engaged both in building awareness of the importance of the knowledge commons as a digital public good, and of deepening understanding of how this can and should be governed in order to realise its potential. Key goals of the session include a wider understanding of what the knowledge commons is as a concept, and the ways in which it contributes to wider development goals. It will also look to strengthen discussion in the internet governance space about the governance challenges currently faced, including for example the role of copyright in enabling or undermining global knowledge flows, the importance of norms around privacy and the interests of indigenous peoples, and what different stakeholders can do to ensure maximum inclusion. The session will do this by starting with an exploration of the concept of the knowledge commons, based on the UNESCO Futures of Education Report, and then pass on to a number of short ‘provocation’ interventions designed to highlight potential ‘knowledge commons crises’. We will then invite audience members, online and offline, to share their own ideas for crises, which will be fed into a poll where we will ask participants to prioritise. Panellists and audience members will be asked to comment on this, and then we will brainstorm responses and actions that can be taken in the internet governance space. The result will be a report highlighting how key upcoming internet governance landmarks - notably the Global Digital Compact and WSIS+20 - can also be key moments in promoting a knowledge commons that enables development for all.

As set out above, the idea of the session is to make the session participatory, inviting participants online and offline both to respond to the ‘provocations’ from speakers, and to suggest their own. We will do this through mentimeter as an online tool, meaning that online and onsite participants will be in a similar situation, and will make sure to leave spaces in discussion to engage remote participants. We may have at least one online speaker, in order to ensure that it is clear that both types of participation are equally valued.


🔒International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions
Maria Fernanda de Brasdefer, IFLA, Civil Society, Latin America and the Caribbean Teresa Nobre, Communia, Civil Soceity, WEOG


Zeynep Varoglu, UNESCO, Intergovernmental Organisation, WEOG Tomoaki Watanabe, Creative Commons Japan, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Thanos Giannakopoulos, UN Library New York, Intergovernmental Organisation, WEOG Liam Wyatt, Wikimedia Foundation, Civil Society, WEOG Reggie Raju, University of Cape Town, South Africa, Academia, Africa

Onsite Moderator

Maria Feranda de Brasdefer, IFLA, Civil Society, Latin America and Caribbean

Online Moderator

Stephen Wyber, IFLA, Civil Society, WEOG


Stephen Wyber, IFLA, Civil Society, WEOG



Targets: 11.4, 17.6: this session looks at questions around the governance of the knowledge that is available to us and that enables us to innovate, learn and create. The knowledge commons approach is arguably already at work in the scientific information space (and so connects to SDG 17.6), and in the concept of a memory of the world (11.4). However, we need to get beyond narrow conceptions of technology transfer, and look at how we can take access as a starting point.

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