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The annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) was held from 8 to 12 October 2023 in Kyoto, Japan in a hybrid format. This year's overarching theme was "The Internet We Want - Empowering All People" and APC had the following five priorities for the event:

  1. Global digital governance and cooperation

  2. Bringing the value of the IGF to the forefront: #TheIGFWeWant campaign

  3. A gendered approach to cybersecurity

  4. Meaningful access

  5. The intersections between environmental justice and internet governance

The APC network mobilised significantly and participated in several sessions. Here are some highlights from this year's IGF.

Join the campaign to strengthen #TheIGFWeWant: “We all are the motor behind its success”
Listen to Local Sound Bites @IGF 2023
Gender equality should be at the centre of the Global Digital Compact (GDC)
Looking ahead to WSIS+20: Accelerating the Multistakeholder Process
Sunday, 8 October - Day 0
The Internet WE Want: Perspectives from the Amazonian Region

Instead of imposing one single access model to the Internet, it is necessary to listen to the local communities, their needs and desires, in order to create solutions with the community, at their scale, that are respectful of their wishes and their culture. We have coordinated joint research on the Amazonian region, as the latest entry on our Latin America in a Glimpse series, that we have presented at previous editions of the IGF. Based on this research, in this session we want to present this new edition of the report and to explore the different challenges —technical and economic, but also political, cultural and environmental— faced by the communities in the Amazonian region and the people trying to come up with alternatives approaches to connectivity. 

Transforming technology frameworks for the planet

Extractive business models in the technology sector pose a serious threat to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Alternative models exist, and must be supported. Speakers in the pre-event will share their experiences in working through cooperative and collective models, and reflect on questions that will guide a facilitated discussion with participants. 

Digital Commons for Digital Sovereignty

The session will discuss how digital commons can foster an innovative approach to digital sovereignty with specific regard to digital innovation and digital infrastructures.

Financing Broadband Networks of the Future to bridge digital

We need to answer the question of how to ensure a long-term and sustainable approach to financing our broadband networks and to ensure they reach everyone. The answer determines how broadband networks will evolve and the coverage and quality they can provide. This workshop will explore the diversity of funding models and shed light on the financial landscape around connectivity infrastructure, ranging from submarine cables to fixed and mobile networks, and the different opportunities to leverage funds to connect people and things.

Scoping Civil Society engagement in Digital Cooperation

This session aims to gather input from civil society members to better scope our stakeholder engagement in the UN's Global Digital Compact (GDC). During this opportunity, we also plan to discuss what are the better paths of engagement in moments such as the beginning of negotiations at the Ministerial meeting that will be initiated after the Issues Paper, as well as the Summit of the Future.

Agents of inclusion: Community networks & media meet-up

This meet-up will bring together local community champions eager to share their learnings and practical solutions for a truly inclusive digital world. Practitioners from ten community centered projects of the Global Majority – some of them on-site others joining virtually – will explore digital inclusion along the “4C Framework”.

Consumer data rights from Japan to the world

The meeting will bring together stakeholders from Japan and diverse countries and regions, but also different sectors, including consumer organisations and internet governance advocacy groups. We will increase awareness and capacity of stakeholders, such as civil society, in Japan and the region to be able to understand and engage in discussions relating to data policy and governance.

High Level Panel: Looking ahead to WSIS+20: Accelerating the Multistakeholder Process

This High Level Panel explores how by building on their strong commitment to multistakeholderism, fostering cooperation – including, critically, with experts from the technical community – and discussing the potential challenges, evolving technologies and trends within the digital landscape, WSIS communities can prepare for and look beyond the 20-year milestone.

Advancing digital inclusion and human-rights: ROAM-X approach

This IGF session will highlight the significance of indicators in equipping stakeholders across various sectors with the means to align themselves with the UN SG's roadmap for digital cooperation and the Global Digital Compact, aimed at achieving the SDGs.

A Global Compact for Digital Justice: Southern perspectives

The pre-event will discuss how to center the vision of digital justice for the majority world in the global Digital Compact, with a specific focus on the sustainable development agenda. It will explore the question – How can we build a Global Digital Compact that furthers digital justice, especially in the majority world?

Monday, 9 October - Day 1
African AI: Digital Public Goods for Inclusive Development

This session will explore the tangible benefits, challenges as well as the lessons learnt in developing and deploying artificial intelligence in the public sector for public benefit.

Tuesday, 10 October - Day 2
Main Session 2: Global Digital Compact & Beyond: A Multistakeholder Perspective

This main session will explore the scope of the Global Digital Compact (GDC), what will be its major elements, including its monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. It aims to offer itself as a platform to hear from the IGF community on the GDC to date and to express themselves on their expectations from the processor.

Promoting efficient E-waste management in Africa and Asia

Despite the fact that several countries in Sub Saharan Africa and South Asia have regulations governing the management of e-waste, implementation on the ground has been timid, although users of digital and electronic tools are growing on these continents. How can we then understand this weakness both in terms of the regulation of e-waste at the national level and in terms of public awareness, especially since the waste of digital tools reaching the end of their life cycle poses serious threats to human health and sustainable environmental management?

Wednesday, 11 October - Day 3
Revitalizing Universal Service Funds to Promote Inclusion

This session proposes ideas on how to restructure Universal Service Funds (USFs) to expand the pool of potential beneficiaries to complementary access solutions, including community and municipal networks.

Overcoming barriers to bridge digital divides

Digital inclusion is of paramount importance in today's interconnected world. It refers to equitable access and meaningful participation in the digital ecosystem, ensuring that no one is left behind. This session will address several important policy questions from the digital inclusion point of view.

Viewing Disinformation from a Global Governance Perspective

The workshop will provide an overview of the controversy surrounding disinformation and intends to clarify the state of knowledge about disinformation and its effects. It will discuss current regulatory approaches including their impact.

What is the nature of the internet? Different Approaches

The goal of this session is to contribute to key global debates concerning the governance of digital issues and technologies and the role of the internet and meaningful connectivity in promoting social, environmental and gender justice.

Framework to Develop Gender-responsive Cybersecurity Policy

The framework and the recommendations that we will be presenting seek to support policymakers, international delegations and civil society organisations in developing gender-responsive cybersecurity policies and norms.

Policy network on meaningful access

This session explores how stakeholders are working towards better local content and languages online, the use of non-Latin alphabets, lack of connectivity, and more.

Thursday, October 12 - Day 4
DC3 Community Networks: Digital Sovereignty and Sustainability

The IGF 2023 session of the Dynamic Coalition on Community Connectivity (DC3) will focus on exploring the connection between community networks and environmental sustainability. This session will explore the role played by community networks as vectors of digital sovereignty and sustainability.

We are here too! African perspectives on social media futures

To reduce inequality among countries there has to be equality in terms of platform relevance and accountability, and access to information to all audiences. Global partnerships, versus top-down relationships, for a more equitable digital environment will require that African perspectives and contextual issues are more greatly factored into collective action and activism. As such, this panel feeds into SDG 17 by creating space for conversations around nuanced international lobbying against the hegemony of social media companies.


Cover image via IGF - Internet Governance Forum Facebook page