14 Jun 2017

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A sustainable governance model

By: admin

GIPO at EuroDIG 2017

Over 20 people participated in the GIPO session at EuroDOIG 2017 on a sustainable governance model for internet policy observatories.


Three related questions were raised:

  1. Is there a sustainable governance model post-European Commission funding for the tool? If so, what should it look like?
  2. How can we encourage increased use of the observatory, or how can we use the tool to build better multistakeholderism?
  3. How can we encourage increased participation in providing sources for the tool?


The discussion was rich, with many people providing input from their own experience of working with or in internet policy observatories. Particularly active were participants from ApTI, Diplo, e-baltic.org and the IGMENA programme.


One of the key conclusions to emerge was that the Global Internet Policy Observatory tool may be automated, but still requires a community to maintain sources, continue to disseminate it, and most importantly to use it. This community can be knowledge-based (experts in specific fields) and action-oriented (those who need basic information about topics related to their own). Such a distinction enables us to target ‘contributors’ and ‘consumers’ of the tool and its functionality. To this end, greater collaboration between observatories, with their existing community bases, was seen as a point to follow up on from this meeting.


Target groups were considered as key. If there is no ‘user base’, then there is no chance for sustainability. For this, further dissemination of the tool amongst civil society groups, experts and other stakeholders was considered necessary. This finding also emerged from the IES Policy Brief, written in the summer of 2016. We identified a need to be more proactive in ensuring that the pertinent groups (not necessarily those who are always present at National and Regional IGFs) are aware of the relevance of the tool for their daily professional lives.


Concerning the costs of ensuring the continuation of the tool, questions were raised about how costs can be quantified: discussion revolved around notions of resource as ‘time’ (in-kind contributions) or ‘money’ (funding).


Community building requires motivation and time, and most potential users of the tool have neither. We need to show that supporting the community building around GIPO is not an onerous process, and can be integrated into their current processes. This pragmatic solution should help increase uptake. Additionally, trust and confidence are big issues; we need to avoid questions and concerns about rivality and ‘stepping on others’ toes’ and embrace plurality. We need to use a physical presence at relevant meetings to build up awareness and trust, and the ensure that the complementarity of the tool is made far clearer. Technical support needs to be available to those groups who may find GIPO useful. This can ensure that the GIPO API or feed is used, for example, by groups that cover one of the subdomains or ‘buckets’ covered by GIPO.


Community building is also essential for content identification. The tool cannot do this alone. We need to approve, identify and submit new sources to the tool on a regular basis. This process is not onerous, but could be done through regional working groups (see IES Policy Brief, GIPO Feasibility Study). Another frame was discussed, to allow ‘functional’ working groups to be established; whilst this was seen as a useful (complementary?) approach, the regional approach was seen as one that can gives ownership and leadership to regions, to ensure complete geographic spread: regional outreach was seen as a crucial enabler for the initiative. To this end, more effort is necessary to work with National and Regional IGFs.


Outcomes and points for action

  • Build on the Federation Roadmap findings and IES Policy Brief recommendations to target specific user communities. Make particular efforts to initiate closer cooperation between the observatories that have participated in our activities thus far, identifying i) possibilities of integrating databases, and ii) steps to ensure common or transposable taxonomies.
  • Initiate Regional Working Groups (RWGs), starting with efforts in Eastern Partnership countries and the Middle East, and see how this progresses.
  • Ensure the AG takes a proactive and evangelising role in promoting the tool.
  • Fine-tune the communication of the tool’s role in informing stakeholders (particularly the uninitiated stakeholders) about recent internet governance debates.


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