Q1/2020 - Internet Governance Forum, Katowice, 2 - 6 November 2020
Preparations for the 15th UN Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Katowice (2 - 6 November 2020), have started with a MAG Meeting in Geneva on 15 and 16 January 2020. Based on a “Synthesis Paper” , a thoroughly positive balance was drawn of the Berlin IGF. The event had been more output-oriented than its predecessors, was stated. Next to the “IGF Messages from Berlin” proof of this was the SME Charta and the “Jimmy Schulz Call“ of the parliamentarians. The speeches of UN Secretary-General António Guterres and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had given the IGF greater visibility in the political field. The Synthesis Paper includes twelve concrete proposal for the content and the procedures of the IGF meeting in Katowice.
The paper proposes that the three focal issues of the Berlin IGF (data, inclusion and trust) be retained as priorities for Katowice. They could be complemented by sustainability. This thematic focus would enable more continuity and depth to be reached with the IGF discussions. The discussions should also be more closely linked both to the follow-up of the UN High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation and the “Roadmap on Digital Cooperation” proposed by the UN Secretary-General as well as to international Internet negotiations outside the IGF, e.g. in the UN ecosystem or within the G20. The following potential sub-topics were mentioned:
- Digital Transformation
- Digital Skills
- Digital Economy
- Trust and Security
- Human Rights and Ethics
- New and Emerging Technologies
- Digitalization and Climate Change
- Environmental Impact of the ICTs.
As to the procedural aspect, it was proposed to streamline the program, to structure it more clearly and offer more “highlights”. For example, there should be only one plenary session per day (without parallel workshops) and the number of speakers per panel should be reduced to create more space for interactive discussions. It should become the rule that the head of government of the host country and the UN Secretary-General open the IGF. The speech of the UN Secretary-General should be designed as a kind of annual “State of the Internet/State of Digital Cooperation Speech” (as in the parliaments of the USA or Russia). The meeting of parliamentarians as it was held for the first time in Berlin and the High-Level Panel organised by the host country should become permanent institutions. Forming a “troika” consisting of host country, previous and subsequent host country could help to improve the organisation of the IGF. Other proposals addressed improvements to the work of the Dynamic Coalitions, the Best Practice Fora and the national, regional and youth IGFs (NRIs).
The Coronavirus crisis also re-set the timetable for the further preparation of the 15th IGF. The deadline for the “Call for Proposals” for workshops, open fora, Day Zero pre-events, IGF Village booths, sessions for Dynamic Coalitions and NRIs was postponed to 22 April 2020. A virtual IGF 2020 Outreach Webinar is planned for 6 April 2020. The 2nd MAG Meeting, in conjunction with the next Open Consultations, will be held online from 16 to 18 June 2020.