1. Title : Policy Options and Best Practices for Connecting the Next Billion
2. Description/Agenda/Questions A report produced by the UN General Assembly Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Working Group on Improvements to the IGF called for the development of more tangible outputs to ‘enhance the impact of the IGF on global Internet governance and policy’. To enrich the potential for IGF outputs, the IGF Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) developed an intersessional programme intended to complement other IGF activities, such as national and regional IGF initiatives, dynamic coalitions, and best practice forums (BPFs). The outputs from this programme are intended to become robust resources, to serve as inputs into other pertinent forums, and to evolve and grow over time.
The topic “Policy Options for Connecting the Next Billion” was chosen for the 2015 intersessional work after an earlier public consultation during the preparatory process for IGF 2015. In order to continue the valuable intersessional work, a theme for the 2016 IGF programme of activities is expected to be determined during/immediately following the next IGF in November 2015 by the global IGF community, pending the renewal of the IGF mandate by the United Nations General Assembly at the end of the year. The theme is intended to reflect topical issues and to increase support to national and regional IGF initiatives, dynamic coalitions, and BPFs.
Technological advancement in connectivity has expanded broadband access and mobile penetration in recent years. Three billion people were connected to the Internet by the end of 2014. In spite of the progress achieved, more effort is necessary in order to connect the next billion and to address the digital divide.
The identification of strategies to improve connectivity is timely due to the ongoing process of reviewing the outcomes of the World Summit of the Information Society (WSIS+10) and recent discussions of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The newly adopted United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda also recognizes that ICTs are a crucial platform for the implementation of these visionary goals and the Agenda sets an ambitious goal to "significantly increase access to information and communications technology and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries by 2020".
Collaboration between governmental and non-governmental actors is key to meet this challenge and the mutistakeholder nature of the IGF makes it a privileged space for discussion.
Examples of policy questions addressed throughout the preparatory process of the ‘Connecting the Next Billion’ exercise:
How would you define the issue “Connecting the Next Billion”?
Have you observed any regional or national specificities regarding connectivity (e.g. Internet industry development)?
Do you know of existing policy measures, and private sector or civil society initiatives addressing connectivity? If yes, was the policy a government policy, industry policy (either collective best practice or corporate policy), technical policy, or did it pertain to civil society collaboration? Describe them.
In your opinion, what worked well in the development of the policy, and what impediments were encountered?
What was the experience with implementation?
Did you experience any unintended consequences of policy developments/interventions, good and bad?
Can you think of unresolved issues where further multistakeholder cooperation is needed?
Did you gain any insight as a result of the experience?
List proposed steps for further multistakeholder dialogue/actions.
3. Chair [provided by the Host Country] Name tbc
4. Moderator(s) Benedicto Fonseca (Brazil) and Constance Bommelaer (ISOC)
5. Panelists Carl Bilt
Representatives from the 6 Best Practice Forums (BPFs)
6. Structure The first half of the session, (90 minutes) could be focused on a roundtable discussion which refers to the compilation output and addresses some of the main challenges and obstacles identified by the community in the paper, panelists could be prepared to make interventions and moderators would give the floor to participants as well. The second half could then focus on tangible ways to address the challenges and overcome the obstacles, identifying solutions that are already being rolled out and hopefully some new ideas that could also come from the panelists/contributors to the compilation document/from the floor. Best Practice Forum experts and coordinators, relevant dynamic coalition representatives and National/Regional IGF initiative coordinators would feed into the discussion as the moderator’s walk through the output compilation, depending on their focus of work.
Agenda 9:00 – 9:30: Overview of process, defining the issue,etc.
9:30-10:30: Interactive roundtable discussion focused on obstacles/challenges coming from selected ‘panelists’ that represent some of the Orgs that have been active and have contributed background contributions and from National and Regional IGFs, BPFs, DCs.
10 minute break
10:45 – 11:30: Interactive roundtable focuses on identifying tangible solutions, policy options/recommendations – solution oriented focused on the identified challenges and obstacles, trying to identify partnerships, match-making exercise.
11:30-12:00: Wrap-up with continued focus on matching obstacles with potential solution ‘policy options’.