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Internet governance and the IGF

Welcome to the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)! We were all new here at some point, so we hope to make it easier for you to participate in all of the activities that happen during the IGF meeting and in the time between meetings. This page should provide you with some basic ABCs to help make your first IGF meeting more meaningful.

This is an evolving project, and our objective is to create a welcoming IGF environment and enhancing experience for youth. We welcome your input as well! Please feel free to contribute here. And for more information about youth IGF initiatives, check out this link.

Also, we encourage you to check out the IGF Top Things to Know resource produced by the Internet Society (ISOC), which includes an informative video and a cheat sheet (also available in Spanish here).

What is Internet governance?


Who? Governments, the private sector (e.g., companies), civil society (e.g., NGOs), the technical community (e.g., computer scientists and Internet networking engineers), and academia (e.g., university professors). For more information on specific groups that are involved, check out the list of actors on the Geneva Internet Platform (GIP): http://giplatform.org/actors.

What? Shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making processes, and programs that shape the development and use of the Internet.

How? In a multistakeholder way, which means that everyone is able to participate equally, and no stakeholder is more important than another. Therefore, you have as much a say as governments or businesses in this process.

Where? Everywhere! Internet governance impacts all Internet users.

What is the IGF?


The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is a United Nations-supported initiative that brings people and organizations together from various stakeholder groups as equals to discuss public policy issues relating to the Internet. It was created in 2005 during the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) as part of the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society (paragraph 72), and its mandate was renewed for another 10 years by the UN General Assembly in 2015.

This year, IGF 11 is taking place in Guadalajara, Mexico, from December 6-9. You can find out more information on the official IGF 2016 website.

Note: Although the IGF officially starts on December 6, many individuals and organizations participate in pre-events, such as those on “Day 0” (December 5).

Why is there a need for the IGF?


While the IGF has no negotiated outcomes or policymaking powers, like some other UN institutions, it is the only multistakeholder platform that enables parties to come together to discuss important Internet challenges and issues. As you’ll see at this meeting, participants at the IGF discuss, exchange information, and share best practices on various Internet-related topics. The IGF serves to inform and inspire those with policymaking power in both the private and public sectors, as well as shed light on various issues by incorporating voices that are often excluded from global policy discussions. It also helps people reach a common understanding of how to maximize Internet opportunities and address the risks and challenges that are constantly arising.

How does it work?


The IGF has one large meeting every year where a number of activities take place, most of which are led by the multistakeholder community itself (e.g. workshops on various topics), as well as local, national, and regional IGFs. In addition, the IGF also has intersessional activities (i.e. those activities that take place throughout the year), like the Best Practice Forums and Dynamic Coalitions. You can learn more about these in the section on intersessional activities below.


Best Practice Forums


The Best Practice Forums, or BPFs, are community-led projects that work on specific themes throughout the year. Their primary aim is to gather broad stakeholder input to define and gather effective and/or efficient practices to address certain important challenges in Internet governance.

In 2016, there are four BPFs, namely:

  1. Gender and Access
  2. Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6)
  3. Internet exchange points (IXPs)
  4. Cybersecurity

Each of these BPFs will present their findings at the IGF meeting, and you are welcome to attend and read their reports, which are published on the IGF’s website.

Dynamic coalitions


Dynamic Coalitions, or DCs, are informal, issue-specific groups comprising members of various stakeholder groups. Ahead of the DCs Main Session at IGF 2016, participating coalitions have submitted substantive papers in accordance with the general guidelines provided as a result of the Dynamic Coalitions Coordination Activities. Existing DCs are:

Connecting and Enabling the Next Billion (CENB)


In 2015, the community contributed to the development of a set of Policy Options for Connecting the Next Billion. This first phase focused on the creation of enabling environments, including deploying infrastructure, increasing usability, enabling users, and ensuring affordability.

Ahead the 2016 meeting, the IGF is furthering its seminal work on Phase II of this project. This year, this intersessional initiative is, among other things, focusing on local and regional specifics that hinder Internet access and sustainable use, and will investigate how ensuring meaningful Internet access contributes to reaching the new UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


How do these meetings work?


A variety of workshops and sessions will be held over the next few days and you are welcome to attend any of them. You can check the schedule of the 2016 IGF here. Bear in mind that the schedule is subject to last-minute changes, so double check the session dates and timings closer to the IGF meeting.

As a first-timer, we understand you might feel overwhelmed or even intimidated. As sessions overlap, make sure that you identify sessions you find potentially interesting or relevant beforehand and work out your own agenda here for the meeting.

Prepare, prepare, prepare! You can research about the panel speakers and topics ahead of time. You can find these details by reading the selected workshops and selected open forums lists.

Who can participate during and speak at meetings?


Everyone has an equal opportunity to speak when the panel moderator opens the floor. When the time comes for audience participation during a session, please raise your hand or approach a microphone to speak.

Tip: You might feel others in the room is more experienced than you and you don’t know the topic very well enough to contribute. Remember though: no one knows the youth’s perspective or situation in your own country better than you! Keep in mind that this is also a discussion forum – there is NO right or wrong, only perspectives, reason, and evidence.

What is allowed and what is not allowed during these meetings?


Besides respecting other participants, and not verbally attacking anyone personally, there are no rules. Read more about the IGF’s guidelines for participation here.

Tips for you:

  • Be proactive! Never stop reaching out to people/participants/speakers. The IGF doesn’t end after 4 days; you can build the relationship beyond the IGF meeting, and also use the IGF as a way to network and meet individuals working on issues you care about. By doing so, you can get involved in post-IGF activities such as the intersessional work or join other Internet governance processes and communities.
  • Be specific about your questions when reaching out to people.
  • Don’t ask questions for the sake of asking questions. It’s better to contribute (in UN-language, it’s called making an intervention) when you have a salient point to make or perspective to share that is relevant to what is being discussed during the session.
  • Take notes during the day and review them at night. It helps to reflect on what happened throughout the day.
  • Read up on the just-in-time reporting and daily briefs offered by the Geneva Internet Platform (GIP).
  • Be present during the session. It will make your contributions more relevant, and make your participation more meaningful. You will learn more too! It’s important to ensure that you aren’t distracted by things like Facebook, email, or Snapchat.
  • You are encouraged, though, to share insight and what is going in the sessions on social media, especially Twitter. This year’s social media hashtag is #IGF2016.

How can I participate in what the IGF does?


Join the Youth Coalition on Internet Governance, or participate in (or even host) a youth IGF event.

Join a Best Practice Forum or a Dynamic Coalition by visiting one of the links above, or by reviewing the draft output documents on the IGF review platform. You can also comment on the Connecting and Enabling the Next Billion draft outcome document.

Connect with the Internet Society (ISOC) ambassadors.

What I wish i had done at IGF?


Calling for your thoughts! Tell us how we can improve at ycig[at]googlegroups.com.

Packing list


Before you leave home, don’t forget these essentials:

  1. Computer and/or tablet and charger
  2. Travel adapter
  3. Passport and visa (if necessary)
  4. Business cards (so you can give them to people you meet and help them connect with you after. They are useful even if you aren’t working. You can include simple information such as your university affiliation or a group you are involved in, along with your name, email, and preferred social media information).
  5. Swimwear
  6. Pen(s) and notebook
  7. Formal clothes

IGF glossary

– Internet Governance Forum
BPF – Best Practice Forum
MAG – Multistakeholder Advisory Group (the group of people appointed by the UN Secretary-General to manage and organize the IGF).
DC – Dynamic Coalition
Multistakeholder – also sometimes used as multi-stakeholder, refers to a process where multiple stakeholders (usually from all different fields – technical community, governments, civil society and academia, intergovernmental organizations (such as the UN), and the private sector) are involved.
Remote hub – an area set up away from the meeting with the aim of enabling people in different countries to listen to and participate in the IGF proceedings.
IGO – intergovernmental organization, e.g. the United Nations
UNDESA – United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs
WSIS – World Summit on the Information Society

You can also find a handy acronym glossary at the Diplo booth with more abbreviations and acronyms, or here

We like to thank the development team:
Bianca Ho
Anri van der Spuy

& the contributors: 
Ginger Paque
Susan Chalmers
Michael Oghia
Israel Rosas
Hailey Yang
David Ng
Élisson Diones
Luã Fergus Oliveira da Cruz
Esteban Aranda


The Youth Coalition on Internet Governance (YCIG) is an open group for organizations and individuals, representing all stakeholder groups, willing to collaborate together in order to encourage and enrich youth participation in local, regional, and international Internet governance discussions and processes.

YCIG was established to advocate for the voice of children, young people, and young professionals in Internet governance fora and processes.

YCIG is open to all young people and other relevant stakeholders interested in Internet governance issues. It has been successful in securing a commitment from the IGF to include young panelists at annual meetings, as well as at organizing a series of panels at different levels of engagement, and producing clear statements during IGF closing plenary sessions.

As a registered IGF Dynamic Coalition, YCIG has a meeting slot at each forum to bring together youth stakeholders from across the IGF to identify and discuss relevant issues, and network together to build a stronger youth voice in Internet governance processes.

YCIG is run through its mailing list. You can also find more information on the YCIG Facebook group, the YCIG website, the YCIG blog, and on the IGF website.

The nature of a youth coalition is that founder members grow older and need to hand on responsibility for the coalition to new groups. Thus, right now there is no active chair or lead group within YCIG.

And that is where we need you.

If you are under 30, interested in Internet governance, and able to get involved in Internet governance debates, join the YCIG mailing list, introduce yourself, and get the discussion going over what this coalition should be doing. You might be new to Internet governance and the IGF, or you might have already taken part in the IGF as a young person but not engaged with the YCIG. The group needs new volunteers, new ideas, and new leaders. In short – it needs you!

YOUTH related Workshops @ IGF2016 Guadalajara


You can find the descriptions and details of every single workshop in the IGF 2016 programme at the following link. Those youth related workshops have been highlighted below.

Title Description & Reference
No. 84 Youth in IG: Capacity building vs Policy discussion A discussion on how youths can better achieve the goal of youth inclusion to the Internet Governance discourse. There will be a debate about the youth engagement approaches which are Capacity building and Policy discussion.

No. 126 Safe&Secure Cyberspace for Youth: Solutions for Asia&Africa The workshop will explore arising issues resulting from the rapid expansion of mobile broadband connections and smartphones across Asia and Africa. Appropriate measures and practices will be discussed accordingly.

No. 160 Social media and youth radicalization in the digital age Following the workshop on mitigating online hate speech and youth radicalization at the IGF 2015, UNESCO further the discussion and deepen the understanding of the hot issues of youth radicalization and the role of social media in the process.

No. 169 Regional Participation in Brazil: Growing Initiatives It is hosted by a group of activists, researchers and practitioners on Internet Governance have come together after IGF2015 and other IG events in Latin America who wish to gather the communities to strategize and create global ties independent from organizations and companies.

No. 225 Hands-on youth-driven Internet initiatives This panel seeks to discuss the state of youth-driven initiatives that are already on course, taking as a basis the Governance Primer course in Brazil, the Youth SIG in Latin America, Wikimedia Mexico, and Morocco’s INPT’s conferences, all of which are largely or entirely run by youth, and attempt to bridge in different ways the global society and the Internet.

No. 250 How to make remote participation sustainable? The workshop will explore how to make IG discussion sustainable for youth since they are the new blood and least economically supported. By discussing how to make remote participation a sustainable way to attract new attendees, and how to make it easy for them to voice out, despite language and timezone barriers. This topic is crucial to enable inclusive and sustainable growth.

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