This year, the Internet community celebrates the 10th anniversary of the United Nations (UN) Internet Governance Forum (IGF). The 10th UN IGF meeting took place at Centro de Convenções Poeta Ronaldo Cunha Lima, in João Pessoa, Brazil (10-13 November).
The choice of the venue is symbolic; first and foremost João Pessoa, also referred to as the “city where the sun rises first”, is the capital of the state of Paraíba and the east most city in the Americas.
Secondly, the convention centre was primarily built in João Pessoa for the IGF. This is an indicator that Brasil puts the Internet governance ecosystem matters at the core and takes high-level Internet discussions with the seriousness they deserve.
This year’s theme was titled “Evolution of Internet Governance: Empowering Sustainable Development”, and was supported by eight sub-themes:
- Cyber security and trust
- The Internet economy
- Inclusiveness and diversity
- Enhancing multi-stakeholder co-operation
- The Internet and human rights
- Critical Internet resources
- Emerging issues
The 10th IGF can be rightly termed as “the mother of all IGFs”.
This is owing it kicks off at a crucial point in time as work is in progress to review the implementation of the WSIS outcomes (WSIS+10).
Besides, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) is later in the year set to decide on the renewal of the IGF mandate, deliberate the WSIS+10 review and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Similarly, there are a number of other hot topics up for discussion namely; the IANA stewardship transition, and the Net Mundial initiative, a multi-stakeholder model initiative initiated by the government of Brasilian 2014.
Being a multi-stakeholder, democratic and transparent forum, the UN IGF is a platform that is expected to provide an enabling environment for discussions among all stakeholders in the Internet governance ecosystem.
A section of the Internet community, however remains critical of the IGF as a mere “talk shop” that fails to bring forth meaningful outcomes, with some even attempting to disrupt the meeting’s opening ceremony.