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EURid Youth Committee at 2022 IGF

2 Feb. 2023

By João Pedro Martins

As Chair of the EURid Youth Committee, I wanted to share with you my experience of participating in the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) 2022 onsite in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

First, a little background on the IGF - it's an annual conference that brings together a diverse group of stakeholders to discuss issues related to the Internet and its governance. The forum is created by the United Nations and provides a platform for multi-stakeholder dialogue on Internet governance issues. It's an open and inclusive forum that encourages the participation of all interested parties, including those who may not typically be involved in Internet governance discussions.

Last year, for the first time in 11 years, the IGF was held in Africa and focused on the theme of "Resilient Internet for a Shared Sustainable and Common Future." The meeting brought attention to the fact that Africa has the lowest Internet connectivity rates, with 60% of the population lacking access, and also pointed out that globally, 2.7 billion people do not have access to the Internet.

The intersessional work of the IGF, which included policy networks, best practice forums, dynamic coalitions, and other initiatives, helped shape the theme tracks of the community sessions at the IGF. These tracks included:

  1. Advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the issues surrounding human-centric AI, trust, security, privacy, and content moderation.
  2. Avoiding Internet fragmentation and discussing drivers of fragmentation and multistakeholder governance mechanisms and regulatory approaches.
  3. Connecting all people and safeguarding human rights, including the digital divide, gender digital divide, human rights, resilient infrastructure, and education and labour.
  4. Enabling safety, security, and accountability by addressing the role of policymakers in promoting cybersecurity, combating cybercrime, protecting women from online gender-based violence, and promoting online safety and combating disinformation.
  5. Governing data and protecting privacy, including discussions on the digital commons, global digital public goods, the digital economy, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), protecting data privacy and upholding data justice, and multistakeholder approaches to governing data.

Attending the IGF provided a wealth of learning opportunities for those interested in issues related to the Internet and its governance. Some of the things I learned from attending the IGF included:

  1. Current trends and challenges in Internet governance: The IGF was a platform for discussing the latest developments and issues related to the Internet and its governance. I learned about the most pressing challenges facing the Internet, as well as emerging trends that may shape its future.
  2. Best practices and case studies: The IGF was a place to share and learn about best practices and case studies from around the world related to Internet governance.
  3. Networking opportunities: The IGF provided an opportunity to connect with other stakeholders from around the world who are working on Internet governance issues.

In addition to participating in the general sessions of the IGF, I also had the opportunity to moderate the Dynamic Coalition on Data and Trust onsite. This coalition focuses on how to build trust in data governance, how to ensure responsible data management, and how to foster transparent, inclusive and accountable data governance. The coalition brought together experts from various sectors, including government, private sector, civil society, and academia, to discuss the challenges and opportunities of data governance. We had productive discussions on topics such as data privacy, data ethics, and data literacy, and I was excited to see the coalition members actively engaging and sharing their perspectives on these issues. It was an honour to be a moderator onsite for this coalition and to contribute to the development of data governance policies and practices.

Overall, the IGF was an incredibly valuable experience, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to have participated. I'm excited to continue to be a part of the conversation on Internet governance and work towards a resilient Internet for a shared sustainable and common future.

João Pedro Martins is second from the left.