[Wg-mwp] Further contribution

Wout de Natris denatrisconsult at hotmail.nl
Fri Nov 10 06:30:17 EST 2017

Dear all,

Following my comments in the last virtual meeting (VM) on potential participation and ways forward, I’d like to share the following. In my opinion it is clear to many organisations participating in the IGF it has a potential for in-depth cooperation and coordination, resulting in tangible outcomes. A potential that currently is underused. Not only through the lack of participation in intersessional work, but also through the session formats currently most in vogue at the IGF. In both additions could be made to make the IGF more relevant to all stakeholders.

Current levels of participation
Concerns have been raised in this WG about participation within current intersessional work. It is a concern I’ve felt and shared constantly while active in BPFs. Of course I can only speak for those I am and was involved in. Considerable time and effort went into reaching out to potential partners, by actively showing the relevancy of the work for them and pointing to their opportunity to deliver input, to share concerns and celebrate their successes. Often with success, but always by hard, extracurricular work. Without it not much would have come of these BPFs beyond the input of a few usual suspects.

My advice is to make active reach out a required task for intersessional work, including enabling the IGF secretariat to be where the right stakeholders come together and plan meetings and ask for a promotional speaking slot. Doubts, reluctance, unfamiliarity with IGF (processes), etc., all need to be overcome by potential stakeholders.

Another point I’ve referenced before, so will be brief here, is to identify those topics that are of high relevancy to (currently absent) stakeholders. Does the current IGF process identify and define them correctly? Does it give enough precedence to these topics compared to others? And if so, are they addressed in a way that makes it of interest to participate?

Over the past two years I have heard too often participants from the technical and business communities mention that the IGF is of less and less interest to them, as they miss focus and results but also topics that are of relevance to them. As you understand from my previous email to the WG, it is here I would like to focus on. It addresses directly and indirectly the main focus points ICC-Basis pointed to in its recent contributions, while calling for forms of action to not waste valuable years in the process at the same time.

Session formats
My suggestions focus on how to make the IGF more relevant to stakeholders through a different approach.

a. Multiple sessions, identical topic
Anri mentioned in the VM that often there are many workshops around the same issue, with only minor difference in title or input. Why not ask all to merge, but in such a way that a whole day or two days can be spend on the topic, working towards  a form of conclusion? And to create a framework around the session that allows it to come up with some form of output that can be presented to the IGF and the world at large? Ideally with an advice on how to proceed.

b. Solution driven sessions
To talk about an issue for 1,5 hour does not produce the beginning of a result. In fact it will refrain many directly involved stakeholders from travelling all around the globe in the first place. Why not create sessions of multiple hours or more in which stakeholders from different communities come together to work on a specific issue and ask them to present on how they will proceed after the IGF? Whether outside or inside the IGF through a BPF, Working Group of whatever they want to call it. This may entice people to travel.

By working along more practical lines and on identified issues with great priority, involvement could grow and participation from different stakeholders become a necessity for them, as the outcomes may affect them directly and make a difference soon.

Is there a will to work differently within the IGF?
Personal experiences from leading figures in NLIGF led to a workshop last year organised by NLIGF on breaking down silos and the secrets behind mulitstakeholder cooperation. This quote is one of the conclusions: “The IGF is the only conference where all the different organisations meet. This workshop shows the potential of the IGF to grow in meaningful  ways and use the knowledge and experience from these organisations. (...) The participants stated that they found the approach refreshing and were “at work” together on a specific topic. They were actively sharing experiences, gaining insight from others and provided input for third parties to learn from.” The session was presented as a “fact finding session”, and asked the participants for input up front, to prepare the session along described lines and to be interactive.

The participants, all a national, regional or international multistakeholder cooperation body, from all IGF communities bar the media, identified conditions that have to be met to establish successful cooperation and were at times amazed to hear commonalities they were not aware of. They all agreed that working along these lines within the IGF, e.g. identifying best practices or working on a selected topic, could lead to solutions to Internet governance challenges. The will was identified and where there’s a will there’s a way.

Best practices
During the session prerequisite best practices for cooperation were identified that have to be met in order for cooperation to be successful. These range from critical mass to building trust and from equality to time, all within a neutral environment. (For completion’s sake I have added all below, should you be interested.) Prerequisites that will have to be met in any form of cooperation set up within the IGF as well. Something that is often overlooked at the start. It could be an explanation why there is often only one community involved at the start of a BPF.

Two suggestions
a. Best Practice Forum on IGF cooperation
In the last VM I suggested to set up a Best Practice Forum on IGF cooperation itself. The topic of breaking down these silos by enhancing (inter)national cooperation within the context of Internet Governance, towards a better functioning and safer Internet, creates a pro-active and continuous environment for all participating (inter)national organisations to discuss cooperation more in-depth. Plus, it allows for inviting those currently missing. Of course this needs elaboration.

b. A pilot project
Secondly there is the option to pilot on one specific topic. As an example and no more than that, I give an example around Internet security.  ‘Within two years all Internet connected devices leave a factory with a randomized, unique password’. In other words a topic that:
1) Is of "limited" scope;
2) Is practical;
3) Is executionable;
4) Provides a solution that is, indiscriminately, available to all stakeholders;
5) Provides a solution that has an indiscriminately, positive effect on all stakeholders;
6) Involves representatives from different stakeholder communities;
7) Leads to a global, preferably self-regulatory standard;
8) Once implemented makes all participants look good;
9) Makes the Internet safer from day 1 of implementation.

If this were a workshop, participants would discuss the topic and go home. A form of intersessional cooperation would keep all stakeholders involved up to the moment the topic is so advanced it can be taken outside of the IGF and brought into other bodies where results can be implemented, whether that is a standardisation, legislation or self-regulatory body. The IGF provides the platform and secretarial duties. The participants the content and the work towards a commonly supported solution.

A pilot would reveal several important lessons on how cooperation plays out within an IGF context. What challenges does it run into? Is the will to use the IGF structures for a complex issue there? Et cetera. The lessons could be incorporated into the strategy.

Some food for thought. I look forward to discussing it further. Have a good weekend all.

Best regards,

Wout de Natris

Best Practices
The following best practices were identified in one and a half hour in Mexico on (inter)national cooperation during what NLIGF called a “fact finding session”.

“Challenge. No matter how different the participating organisations are from each other, most started out from a similar position: there was a challenge that needed to be addressed. E.g. managing and/or mitigating abuse, raising awareness, managing the Internet, establishing cooperation across boundaries c.q. borders, etc. Ownership. Someone or a group of persons addressed that challenge, in a way made themselves owner of that challenge and organised a meeting around the topic which grew into organisations. The room largely agreed that to grow into a success several conditions must be met in one way or another. Perspective. There has to be a perspective as to the way forward. This was often met by addressing the following. Equality. All the participants all must have the ability to participate and share in equal ways. Trust. Without it no one will ever share information with competitors or outside organisations. Trust models. Several organisations mentioned the way they had organised themselves to enable trust to grow between participants. Often a variation to the traffic light model was brought forward. When all is said and done trust grows between individuals. Time. It takes time and patience to build trust between participants, often over several meetings. Neutrality. It was also pointed out that creating these circumstances needs hard work. A neutral place to meet in the initial phase, e.g. with the aid of a neutral secretariat or building to meet in, is seen as a good first step and the examples show that it takes multiple meetings before success is met with. Comfort zone. Stepping out of a (personal) comfort zone was a condition mentioned in this context. Expectations and goals. In these initial meetings an inventory of expectations is made, which allows for goals to be set. Alignment. In this process an alignment to each other’s expectations is made. Common cause. This is the only way forward that allows defining a common cause. Commitment. It is important that this is felt and shared by all participants as this leads to commitment to that common cause and the workload ahead. Once the initial participation has been achieved, other aspects come forward. Transparency and integrity. Processes within organisations of this kind have to be transparent for the participants and those participating actively in projects have to show integrity, which aligns directly with trust. Anonymization of data. Data shared is often anonymised. Once these circumstances are in place, a framework is created that makes it possible to work with many people from different backgrounds and organisations on large projects that make a difference for all concerned. Critical mass. From there the critical mass is built that allows for real successes. A significant number of participants has to come on board to make a difference in the topic on hand. Costs and effort. Nothing comes for free. All participating have to put in effort and make costs and/or pay a membership fee to have a chance of success. There were very different examples of funding, including examples of meeting required financial conditions with the aid of initial government support or support from outside organisations that step in to assist in financing or providing a technical solution that aid cooperation to go forward. Result. It is also important that participants receive something in return. Whether solutions, recognition or value, a result must be the ultimate outcome to make it worthwhile. On the other hand most recognised that there is a sensitivity in this form of cooperation. Participants do not only cooperate but show vulnerability in sharing incidents, even to the extent of reputational damage if others misuse information shared.  Here we return to trust, the word, the value that is perhaps the fundament of this all and extremely important to meet. This can only be overcome if the environment is trustworthy and used to learn from each other and not taking direct competitive advantages from sharing. Regulation. There was a rough consensus that regulation ought to be absent if at all possible. Voluntary. The voluntary nature of cooperation was stressed by nearly all. Regulation ought to be considered as a last resort in the case of failure to solve the challenge at hand. In this context there was a call to review older laws that sometimes make cooperation and sharing data hard. Stimulation. Governments are invited to stimulate cooperation. That is the best way forward. Several examples showed how governments had contributed successfully through stimulation and assistance in creating neutrality. “Stimulate where you can and regulate where you must”, as someone said.”

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De Natris Consult

Kamerlingh Onnesstraat 43                                                        Tel: +31 648388813

2014 EK Haarlem                                                                          Skype: wout.de.natris

denatrisconsult at hotmail.nl<mailto:denatrisconsult at hotmail.nl>


Blog http://woutdenatris.wordpress.com
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