IGF 2017 - Day 3 - Room XII - OF74 Strengthening the IGF the German Community Invites you to a Discussion


The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Twelfth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Geneva, Switzerland, from 17 to 21 December 2017. 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 to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record. 



The purpose of this meeting today is to look into the workings of the IGF and to see how next IGF or maybe the one after that, in 2019, could or should develop. 

The invitation was issued to you by the German community.  We'll talk about IGF, outcomes, and why it exists.  Before we go into the introduction, let me introduce myself.  My name is Thomas.  I'm the ambassador and director at UN.  With me on the panel is Mr. Gi it, dl from our minister of economic affairs.  Note that Germany has submitted an application to become the host of the 2019 IGF.  That is still under consideration and of course explains the interest from our side so we wanted to seize this opportunity to meet with you to discuss ideas and to talk a bit about what the IGF means for us. 

To kickoff our debate, I have contacted a number of experts who were involved very much in previous IGFs and in the one that we are having right now.  My proposal is that I ask the four persons I've identified one short question and then of course I open up the discussion to give all of you a chance to express your use opinions. 

My first question goes to ambassador of Switzerland.  He's one of the organizers of the IGF 2018.  We have been informed that we have noticed a number of innovations and that's my next questions.  The idea to have messages on the website of the IGF.  Can you give us maybe some information about where this came from and what the background of this is?  The floor is yours.

So over the years, there have been several things that have been played with, if I may say, in terms of formative sessions, the arrangement of main sessions, how the workshops are selected, and the open forum.  We have a new format that has been introduced lately which is called the flash sessions which is something that the European IGF has introduced some years ago. 

And there has been over the years several discussions about so‑called improvements to the IGF, how to make it more relevant.  And of course those who have been participating in this discussion in the last 12 years know that this is a sensitive issue and you need to be very careful in how to deal with these things and that you make sure that whatever you experiment with is fallen on fertile ground and is accepted in the empire by the community. 

We have the advantage in Europe that we have the Europe session that I mentioned that was set up by a member of individuals with some form of backup of some institution and has now turned into something formal.  And we've had the chance to experiment and go a little further with formats and also the messages than the global UN level. 

So what you try to contribute to the experiment in terms of trying out something new this year is, as you've mentioned, the high level sessions, it is the first time that we do not have, like in the previous 11 years, we do not have more monologue, 5‑minute monologues of VIPs from all stakeholders in a row.  That's how the opening afternoon looked like until this year.  We thought that we would try to also turn this VIP segment or whatever you call it into an interactive dialogue.  Our president was very happy to be part of this and be part of our experiment to see how this goes.  It's a challenging thing. 

We also managed to even have an open mic at the high level opening session, which is something that we're proud of, that this has been possible and people have played along. 

And we have asked or discussed whether we would have the chance to have two high level sessions in order to match and accommodate a 10 or 12 which is normally the limiting size of a panel if you want to make it interactive with the public.  They basically agreed to let us experiment with two high level sessions that allowed us to have like 40 or so high level representatives of all stakeholders trying to balance this as with stakeholders, with regions, with different kinds of diversity, that you need to cope if you do something like this. 

And so this is the first time that this has been done.  It's after that, of course, up to the mark and up to the community to discuss whether they think that has been an improvement or they would rather go back to having 30‑minute monologue speeches on the opening.  Because this is all not casting stones, but in a sense, you need to somehow every now and then test a few things to see like this is make it better, more interactive, more relevant?  So this is one of the elements that we thought that we want to contribute to improving the IGF in the sense of making it more interactive, also getting high level representatives closer to the so‑called normal other or expert representatives.  That was one element. 

The other element is responding to and also an ongoing discussion about the outcome.  There's an agreement that the outcome should be more tangible.  The question is then what does that mean and how can we do this?  I think there's also an agreement that we should not go into negotiating an outcome because that would basically destroy the openness, the dialogue function, which is the function that the IGF was set up for.  So I think that is very important to remain.  Keep the IGF as a platform where no negotiations take place. 

At the same time, we have so far we've had the chairman's report that is very descriptive.  It's normally between 15 and 30 pages or so.  Because we have made the experience after ten years, from the very beginning, going back to an initiative of another German friend, who said okay let's try and do something more tangible but not negotiated.  Let's do a best effort by to somehow reflect the discussion immediately after like a stenographic report in a few minute to try and capture what were the main elements that were discussed?  What attendances? 

And we did this now for ten years so we can read messages from Berlin, Stockholm, and there are a number of people involved in writing these messages and we thought we'd try to do the same here for the IGF off of this as also something people can tell us whether they think it is useful or not.  Thank you.

You're a member of the mag and none of the main sponsors and organizers of today's IGF.  What's your view on these novelties and what else is new or do you have any recommendations how future IGFs could develop?  Very briefly, please. 

They're not a given.  They were not unanimously supported within the last mag and certainly that and some of the other innovations around this year's IGF will be reviewed carefully by an incoming mag to determine what the recommendation is with respect to going forward. 

I think I won't address Thomas's comments any further.  I think he did an excellent job in capturing them.  I think if I can come back to the one area where much of the mag is focused, and that's just trying to make sure the IGF remains relevant and how do we continue to advance more concrete outcomes?  We hear often it's a talking shop, just discussion. 

And start from the perspective of it's discussion pause because the issues are intertwined, complex, and nuanced, and they really take time to understand.  If there was not differing viewpoints, whether that's because of different viewpoints across stakeholders or across national differences or differences on substance, we wouldn't need this forum. 

We need it exactly because of those few things I just said. 

I think there's an awful a lot of outcomes that come out of the IGF.  The discussions advance, escalate and change over time, evolve over time.  The cyber security discussions we were having or the discussions threatening a few years ago were Spam and those things.  Now they're cyber security and much more advanced.  So they may have a lot of the same titles, but the topics under discussion today are clearly very different than 10, 11, 12 years ago. 

Those discussions look for point of commonality and agreement and they might be practiced in a best practice forum.  They might be captured in some of the other output documents.  They might be captured as a norm, which is put out for the community for broader adoption.  All those things are actions along the path to greater agreement and greater common positioning, if you will, in some of these issues. 

Some of those norms may even ultimately become policy or become regulation, but every one of them, whether it's input that's taken back to a national regional IGF initiative or a private sector company takes back what they're doing and brings back to the long discussions or governments, all those are actions that are helping to evolve those issues. 

So I think one of the challenges for us is to find a better way to talk about the value proposition of the IGF and secondly, certainly to find a way to make all the great information that's captured in the 200‑odd sessions here at the IGF much more accessible, more comprehensible. 

So the mag is continuing to look at ways to do that.  And most of the daily structure is of course resources and funding.  We are severely underresourced.  We have a secretary for four people, one resource person and a voluntary mag chair.  So a lot of the efforts are focused on managing this annual forum and of course the IGF is a new forum and has ‑‑ coalitions, major policy program and connecting in the next billion and of course on a national regional IGF initiatives and dynamic coalitions.  I'll stop there.  Happy to take any other questions later. 

The next person I would like to ask a very direct question is ambassador from Brazil because you have organized the previous IGF which was my first one.  So your experience is very important to us.  What's your take on the level and importance of the IGF, please?  The floor is yours. 

And we in Brazil favor extremely the importance of IGF.  We have been enthusiastic support of IGF sees the beginning as you have said.  We have hosted IGF in 2015.  I think this is the thing you have referred to.  Before that, we had in 2007.  So we have hosted two additions of IGF and for us it's been natural to participate in IGF

In Brazil, the thought we have adopted for discussing internet governance issues internally mirrors the way IGF is shaped.  Actually, the Brazilian ‑‑ established in 1995, 10 years before the agenda enforced or invalidated the notice of stakeholder participation.  So we are comfortable and really to strengthen IGF.  I was very happy the day I heard the investigation was the third largest to this IGF which I think is wonderful to be on a different continent and in winter, which for some of us is a very particular challenge. 

So looking ahead, and I fully concur with what was said by both Thomas and Lynn that IGF has been evolving over the years, adopting new methods of work, and seeking ways too much even by retain its major corrective mistakes, not changing.  It would be impossible to serve that to including the deferment what do you call the tangible outputs, tangible outcomes, in the form of the proactive best.  That is further by best capturing the discussions into IGF itself. 

And working ‑‑ I would also mention that in Brazil, in 2015, we launch the first edition of the connect next online document, which is a kind of toolbox that aim that practitioners from particular private sector in that area.  We think is surveillance for two.  And then IGF the third edition will be launched.  So this is something that has been evolved.  And this is the kind of thing that should be further explored how out of the discussions that take place in IGF, we can take out imports that we will feed into our ‑‑ that would go beyond the community that meets in this environment. 

I think it's important that the community is discussed but it's also important that its outcomes will be comforting to the outside world in a way ‑‑ in a meaningful way.  And I think this has been a very important experience in that regard and also that even the organization of the meeting itself, like in the opening ceremony, the interaction, discussion, the open mic, I think those are also motivations.  That really provided ‑‑ for IGF in the second cycle. 

We are following, at a very early stage, we think the trend is very positive and one that we would encourage.  Thank you.

Our last brief introductory speaker will be of all matters IGF from Germany.  We have a particular welcome.  And after that, I would open the discussion to the general audience to react either to the foreign introductory statements or anything else you would like to raise about the future or the present of the IGF

In Germany, we made the experience some years ago to have a real multi‑stakeholder meeting in terms of when it came to a better to ICANN because of the enter and stuff. 

But we are also ‑‑ and you mentioned it before, 2019, we will be in Germany, so it's a much more way for us to look forward to see what is coming and to gain deeper experiences here.  What I've seen here, although I think Thomas did a very good job here as a last minute organization in this environment at this time of the year having so many attendees, I think it was more than he expected to come. 

 And hopefully, we can have this in Germany as well.  But I can see a little bit, last year and this year, a little unbalancing from some stakeholder groups.  Which means some are more represented, others are less represented.  And I'm not sure ‑‑ first I thought it was due to the time of the year, but then I reflected last year in Mexico, the IGF, and similar experience. 

This is certainly something to look more on the balancing of the attendees which is sometimes a question of the program and of the layout of the program.  And I'm happy to see more and more at the IGF interventions instead of lengthy discussions, and I would also love to see more disappearing the panels with many people on it and having very short messages and then more interactive so the takeaways are more precise instead of having the view from seeing a person and everyone is nodding the head and reading its mail. 

This is one point I think one should look at, especially in terms of 2019.  Of course we had some ideas on what can be done and further IGFs.  We have dedicated and of course there are nearly same title but different content because things change.  Cyber crime changed from credit cards to much more difficult things, but we set projects, themes out of the cybersecurity will be important over the year 2019 and 2020. 

Because you also have to give those people doing your regulation a mention for before.  You have to give some hints on what all the stakeholders are thinking of and what is their idea what can be done.  And sometimes in former times we had ‑‑ from government, and then they found out, oh, technology has gone some steps forward so laws didn't work really.  That was the time when the multi‑stakeholder mechanism were born. 

And we also had especially in this time, and I think for next year, this should also be already elaborated on.  That is from the area of the digital economy and the future of work, how does this workout.  And the further development of the multi‑stakeholder project. 

I think beside the novelties Thomas was talking about, we should have repertoires for getting short messages.  And we have seen that the messages from the various ‑‑ and we did this in Germany since we have an IGF of for many years already to have messages from those various IGFs.  And this has to be ‑‑ has been proven as very helpful also for the next IGF.  And I would like to point out on the IGF daily for those who have missed something that was new.  What I've seen and I love it to get a short glance on what happened because you cannot attend all the meetings.  That's it.  Thank you. 

Before I open the floor to, one clarification.  A committee has submitted so far, the implication since 2019, but the formal decision hasn't been made.  We're not talking about something that will happen in Germany.  There's no decision.  There's a more pressing concern that we need a host for 2018.  Having said that, you are the first.  Please briefly introduce yourself and try to be very short and precise so we have as many speakers as possible within the remaining time. 

And I would like to add here to this discussion that as you all know, Germany has a very strong civil society and academic community.  And both communities see the potential for IGF as you said.  It's only an implication but Germany has a great chance to ‑‑ so we proposal basically three things, and I'll be really brief. 

There's been a process to give more structure to the program by using tags attached to all the sessions and there were other innovations that were already mentioned by the speakers who were talking before me.  And I think that ‑‑ we appreciate that very much, but we need to continue this development by also discussing the question whether for example it might be a good idea to develop content tracks for the IGF

Developing tracks that give more structure to the entire program because has been participants, especially ones coming as newcomers to the IGF see it as a very confusing program that's being presented to them.  And I think this has nothing to do with the content because the content is great in many instances.  It's more about the structure of the program, and I think that the civil society and academia have extensive experience in organizing conferences of this size.  So we will be happy to be part of the process and contribute knowledge to that. 

Secondly, both civil society and academia have suffered from restrictive and erratic handling of visa rules and procedures.  Presently and in the past, and we do very much hope that the German government will use the opportunity of an IGF happening in Germany to set an example for further inclusion of these groups by being, let's say, more opening and welcoming to people from especially the global south from these groups that I represent here. 

And the third thing is that civil society needs funding.  Everyone knows that.  Their inclusion also depends on being able to travel and be accommodated at the IGF.  So maybe it is a good idea to create shared fund.  It doesn't have to be a government fund, but it could be a shared fund by government and private sector to also distribute a travel grants and probably scholarships for people wanting to attend the internet governance forum in Germany.  Thank you very much.

I'm not going to repeat what exactly came out of it, because there will be a report and everybody can read it. 

I think that what is important is to look at the process, how we actually arrive at the topics that are relevant at an IGF.  That is one of the main outcomes A. Better process which leads perhaps to new forums but mostly to K through through the different stakeholders so that we've been missing industry and government more and more I think within the IGF.  That seems to be because the time restrain, money restrain.  But they want to have the topic that is most on their mind.  And if it's there, it's not that much of interest to participate anymore. 

The second one is the intangible and tangible outcomes.  Many things come out of the IGF and then they're stuck on the website and nobody will ever find them again because who reads all these reports, right?  If we had a success, I think the IGF need to learn how to celebrate it.  Not have an IGF and come back a year later. 

No, we want to convince organizations that currently are not present and do not really understand what the IGF is about, but actually could be their theory to come next year because hey we had a success.  It involves us.  The outcome is really something relevant to us and perhaps we will understand what they can contribute next year to the sort of collaborator. 

So in other words, there's a lot the IGF can actually do by changing the way he's thinking about itself, create new creative forums that will change potential outcomes and that is something which we will write about more about something we wanted to share with you today.  So thank you for the opportunity. 

This year, I started my own company so I'm representing no one but myself.  I think in terms of the IGF in general, I'm very glad to hear that we are already starting with a preparation tool because preparation is crucial.  I would like to offer some advice.  Perhaps it sound a little like criticism, but multi‑stakeholder is not just a word.  It's not something we way lip service to but something we should incorporate as a state of mind. 

It's a way of recognizing that the issues around the IGF and ICT for development cannot be solved by one stakeholder group alone.  And that, in all venues and aspects, it should be recognized that it's not just one stakeholder inviting others to participate but that we should have a process that from the start includes all of the stakeholders as we have said in Geneva on an equal footing. 

As to business participation in Germany, I have pin a member of the bit coin public affairs, a working group for more than ten years, and that has the bitcome head of the international.  But I can tell you that if you want to get industry participation and issue like the IGF, look beyond bitcome.  Because the bitcome is not the venue to seek broad participation of the ICT industry and international issues. 

What you need to do is look beyond.

I also ‑‑ I just mentioned professor rotor.  I agree with him, we should have less of these packed panels.  We should look at formants that have worked in the past that are going beyond that, such as open mic sessions.  We should definitely ‑‑ I'm finished, almost. 

We should definitely include ways for more participation and prepare for that in advance, early enough so we have remote participation, perhaps.  And I think in today's world what we should have is an app.  We should have a very cool app that it works on iPhone and android phones and windows phones and on the web where people can do something like see a schedule app or whatever.  But the include and introduce more participation possibilities.  Thank you.  And I'm willing to contribute to the preparation process in the coming years. 

Mr. Comar is on the list. 

I come in late.  Please excuse me.  I was cofacilitating the main session.  And when I came in, I heard talk about the intercessional processes and they have made great progress in actually producing tangible outcomes.  And again picking up on what has been said, it was mentioned that the IGF has never been very good at actually show casing the outcomes and the output and the impact. 

And the IGF has had impact, but it's quite often intangible and may not be able to connect the books and trace it directly back to the IGF.  But one for instance a very tangible impact is the Kenyan government changed the institution and introduced the requirement to have multi‑stakeholder consultations before they changed as legislation.  And this is indirect impact of the IGF and its multi‑stakeholder approach. 

But there, and there's a great role a government can have and we look forward to this possibility, this very I would say almost certain possibility that we will go to Germany for the 2019 IGF, a host country that is a member of the G eight for instance as a very direct reach to big countries.  And we have talked about the imbalance and participation.  We have mentioned that and I think the weaknesses that the governments don't see the need to come to the IGF and then the host country can play a tremendous role in convincing governments that there is actually important to go to the IGF, to have these discussions. 

During this IGF, there's a big thread going on cybersecurity and the IGF is the only forum where you can have this type of discussion with all stakeholders involved.  And the notion that no stakeholder group can solve a problem alone is I think is the original data of the IGF.  That is where people come to the IGF.  But governments need to be made aware of that. 

And in the best practice forum on cybersecurity, for instance, we have the government of China made a contribution.  They recognize the need for that, and it would be great if other governments also actually took this responsibility seriously and actually engaged more proactively instead of just coming to observe. 

So there I have great confidence in the government of Germany to mobilize interested among its partner and reaching out to other important governments to put it on the agenda for the 2019.  Thank you. 

The only other suggestion I would have to s more process oriented.  This is starting to feel a lot like the open consultations that take place in the beginning of the IGF cycle, which is fine.  I would suggest that when that period does begin, you take the key elements that you're hearing as part of this session and take the report from this session and maybe transform it into a contribution for the open consultation as part of that process so it gets fed into the mag and the mag is aware of it as a whole and may be able to act on some of these suggestions.  Thanks.

And I believe Isaac is doing quite a good job in bringing people to the IGF.  We have more than 30 to 40 people to each IGF.  And I would propose we team up and just actually not having five different programs each reaching out, but trying to combine money to make this one big thing and allow people to come in and I volunteer to be a focus point to coordinate this.  Thank you. 

Because there are also so many recommendations coming out out of the IGF, which we should take on board to implement in 2030 and the sustainable development goals.  We cannot achieve them without using ICT for development.  So I see at least 3‑quarter of the program reflects to development, corporation issues.  And we should discuss the absence of all these people, particularly if we have the IGF industry upcoming years. 

This year in Europe and then two years in Europe, we should really make sure that maybe we can have a fund or whatever to strengthen the process from the global sense.  So I think we can all work together with German government to make this possible.  Thanks.

I just want to focus on a very specific issue.  We talked about tangible outcomes.  So I was attending a session on small island developing states, which was mostly for young people who were in the room.  And I was really frustrated at seeing that those young people basically fill our footprints which was there was just a regular round table discussion and people were wanting or claiming or stating, whatever, difficulties and hard ships they face.

 And there was only to or no attempt ‑‑ limited or no attempt whatsoever to call for some more constructive exchange of views and formulating some common approach to whatever challenges they are facing. 

It was only by the end of the session that the moderator woke up and suddenly said what if we create a network, you know, for further communication.  I mean, these young people were nearly fell asleep during the session because that was too boring for them and not inspiring at all. 

My concern is that for the IGF not only tangible outcomes matter but also some kind of legacy that we should generate and retain through both IGFs and intercessional periods.  And I believe that in that sense, we should focus on such sessions which would not only produce some kind of reports, you know, country or regional reports, but some success stories or specific cases in which in the course of some subsequent discussion people could build some disciplines or other instruments which would enable them to coordinator for the long and spread the word, so to say, within their respective territories or regions. 

And number two, another I had a privilege to attend, has a very good practice of merging session of the same moments and the same topic.  And I feel I've seen so many sessions with really the same titles and people address addressing the same issues which basically still a lot of valuable time during these three days when we're together.  And I may be wrong.  I can see some people disagree with me.  But I think that would be very constructive to build a more sound agenda.  Thank you. 

It's my second IGF, and when I go through the sessions, go through the flows here, my impression is there are an amount of people who is a little bit lost in this circus due to the fact that the existing structures of internet governance are quite complex.  And I would propose perhaps we need some ground workshop which explains who is IGF, who is ICANN, who are the rules and what is the roles and so on.  And where is the IGF in all this.  And to support a common understanding supporting these discussions because sometimes people are talking different languages. 

I think that we have perhaps two big issues and then some smaller issues.  One is organization and one is results. 

On the organizational issues, I feel one issue is access.  Access multi‑stakeholder, the nature of the multi‑stakeholder process.  So there has been talk about including the global south, giving visas, including more businesses, including more governments.  Certainly this is partly or in some parts even exclusively a part for the host country and I think we will work together as our colleagues in the other ministries on these issues. 

The second on the organization, I think is the proceedings, how does the IGF proceed?  There has been sometimes some people say that we need more structure, that we need smaller panels, with more relevant outcomes, that the proceedings should be a little more interactive, and the high level session that has been designed in a new way was one of the examples of how to change proceedings from 30 minutes statements to a more shorter interactive kind of proceeding.  And on the side of how to involve people better, there are perhaps two ideas.  One was the ‑‑ what is the IGF and the other was to create an app for orientation and perhaps giving more structure. 

On the results side, I feel that there is a good sense of what has already been achieved on the side of more tangible and more concrete results, but still there is a appetite for more on this.  Without losing the multi‑stakeholder nature of the whole IGF, so this is going to be challenging.  And I think in the mag, we will have to think about ways. 

But it has also been stressed that the IGF or the multi‑stakeholder process is somehow also a name in itself.  I mean, the fact of people coming together discussing and having an inside and a deep insight and then going back to the constituencies, spreading it into legislation or a business lines or whatever is also perhaps not so tangible, but it is a result of the IGF

So on both issues, tangible, nontangible results, we could think how do we do it better.  One proposal was to build on success stories.  What has already been done and the best practices segment, but perhaps we could focus on this.  In the pros, we are at the beginning of the process.  I think it is a good beginning.  We have two years time now.  And together with you and everybody outside and the remote participation, we will work on this.  We will include all the stakeholders.  We will try to make it relevant for all the stakeholders.  And to have a good IGF with good proceedings, good participation, and good results.  Thank you very much. 


So please make sure you remain active in both elections, and I look forward to really about inputs and a very creative and active multi‑stakeholder constituency that works for the next IGF.  Thank you very much for coming.  And I'm afraid we have to close this now because the next panel will be here in a few minutes.  Thanks again.