Strengthening IGF and the Multi-Stakeholder Model

Strengthening IGF and the Multi-Stakeholder Model


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Earlier this month, I joined more than 3,000 attendees at the 9th Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Istanbul. IGF brings together various stakeholders – from the public and private sector to civil society and engineers and academics – to discuss the Internet’s progress and its future.

Over the past 20 years, the Internet has evolved.

1995:[1]

  • Internet access was largely dial-up. Email was simply text and the Web was not multimedia.
  • Internet users were mainly North Americans who relied on low-speed.
  • Four Network Access Points across the U.S. were designated as the points at which traffic could be exchanged.

Today:

  • The rapid expansion of mobile broadband is now providing an even wider range of Internet-based services. Bandwidth-intensive types of traffic such as video are experiencing massive growth.
  • By end 2014, there will be almost 3 billion Internet users…two-thirds of them coming from the developing world.
  • Increased global traffic led to a major shift away from the US-centric pattern of international connectivity towards regional fiber networks in multiple countries.

With that extraordinary growth in mind, I wanted to focus on two overall points during my participation at IGF.

  1. A strong IGF and multi-stakeholder model means a stronger Internet. In 2005, the UN outlined the establishment of the IGF whose goal is to enhance cooperation in addressing Internet related issues. Today, the event has become an important venue for stakeholders across the globe to discuss policy issues impacting the Internet while avoiding centralised decision-making or a politicised inter-governmental treaty process. With the Internet’s evolution, the multi-stakeholder model of governance also evolved.  It has promoted the Internet in a way that is flexible and has allowed networking to flourish. AmCham EU also applauded the commitment to multi-stakeholder model at IGF in Istanbul.
  2. The importance of Europe’s commitment to the IGF. The European Commission and the European Parliament continue to play an important role in advocating for the IGF and the multi-stakeholder process and in building bridges with other countries. The Commission noted the need to continue “strengthening and improving the IGF” and “safeguarding and improving the multi-stakeholder approach to Internet governance.” Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes reiterated that position in herspeech at IGF. I was once again extremely pleased to hear the commitment of the Commission and the Parliament in engaging with and involving more and more stakeholders from the Internet ecosystem.

It seems each year the IGF continues to grow and become stronger voice for Internet governance best practices. I hope that trend continues at the 10th IGF meeting in João Pessoa, Brazil, in 2015.

[1] Points from Analysys Mason study on interconnection

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