Blog post summary by Maureen Hilyard

Notes and Photos

The Government of France hosted the three-day meeting at the headquarters of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in parallel with the Paris Peace Forum on 11-13 November 2018. During the opening ceremony, the President of France Emmanuel Macron provided his view of some important impacts of the Internet and the importance of the IGF for advancing discussions on global Internet governance issues.  The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres  raised concerns about some of the negatives aspects of the internet but believed that transformative technologies could be used to change risks into opportunities. The IGF involved governments, private sector, NGOs and civil society sharing best practice and ideas to support the theme of “The Internet of Trust”. 

**This report was part of an evaluation written for the NZ Ministry of Finance and Trade who fully funded my attendance at this event

Sessions I attended as a reporter for the Geneva Internet Platform

Sessions that I attended related to issues of concern to the Pacific

  1. WS193: Submarine cables governance and sustainable development goals.

I was able to participate in the first half hour of this session which enabled me to hear Robert Pepper, Head of Global Connectivity and Technology Policy for Facebook. He explained Facebook’s investment in submarine cables to build partnerships with telecom operators and also to encourage a more open Internet. Their work is mainly focusing on Latin America. I then had to leave to participate in the Human Rights-Sustainable Futures session.

2. Lightning Session 13 - The TWO NETWORKS That Expand and Sustain Internet Access. Professor Lee McKnight from Syracuse University introduced and demonstrated the use of a solar powered internet service provider unit which could be used in isolated areas. It is being trialled in Africa. It made me think of how valuable a backpack toolkit such as this would be in the event of a major natural disaster when power and internet were down. They would complement the emergency satellite connected phone system which is also used in emergency situations.

3. Workshop384: Overcoming Barriers to Investment in Connectivity. The aim of this session was to explore the various barriers to finance and connectivity, in particular to underserved communities, and to try to understand the policy that would enable financial investments, in particular to last mile connectivity. Suggestions ranged from public-priate partnerships (Brazil); focus more attention on the “last metre” and social capital (Nepal); get businesses to pay for free WIFI but using ads to sell products and services – potential win-win (Philippines); and helping prospective startup operators develop business plans that will connect them to business opportunities (US consultant in Africa)

4. Lightning session#17: ICANN and Capacity Building in the Underserved Regions This session was taken by Lito Ibarra who is a Board member on the ICANN Board. It was appropriate for me to take this session, as I am the Chair of the ALAC of ICANN which represents the interest of Internet end-users, and it was good to see that a Board member and former Government Advisory Committee member, was supporting the role of capacity building in underserved regions. By chance, my colleague Pua Hunter is the Chair of this particular working group on the GAC. Lito explained the work of the Government Engagement Team and other ICANN constituency groups and I* organisations who work together to support the understanding of government officials about ICANN and its role in supporting good governance of the internet.

I wrote articles on the latter three sessions for the Diplo Foundation’s Geneva Internet Platform  (GIP) Digital Watch which was a set of reports on every session of the IGF written by Diplo Foundation Alumni.

APRALO team who were busy at various sessions as well as a the booth

President Macron at the Opening Ceremony of the IGF Paris

Sessions that I participated in as a presenter

  1. Dynamic Coalition Internet Rights and Principles:Sustainable Futures: The Internet, Human Rights and Environmental Issues Discussed the importance of the environment to Small Island Developing States, and the impacts on the future sustainability of our environment of the residual waste that will result from the future battery waste from our nearly 100% renewable energy on the outer islands to currently power the use of the Internet as well as other electrical needs, but also with the increased build up of other eWaste that contains materials that can poison our food and water sources if they are not removed from our island environments.
  2. Dynamic Coalition: Developing a SIDS Internet Economy Action & Research Agenda. As the Co-Chair the session, Tracy Hackshaw of the Carribbean SIDS and I encouraged discussion about key agenda issues that SIDS participants will focus on during the year in preparation for presentations on the IGF theme for 2019 (in Berlin 25-29 Nov). Key issues raised included: gender equality relating to affordability and accessibility issues; developing community networks to support digital literacy and training (social development); creating a cohesive framework for connecting SIDS communities and their digital assets (infrastructure development)

Other participants I engaged with during the event.

Unfortunately I only met 3 members from the Pacific at the event in Paris (two quite accidentally from Vanuatu as we waited together in the registration queue, the night before the event started,  in the rain. They had accompanied their President to the Peace Forum and Armistice Day celebrations hosted by the President of France). The other participant was an ISOC Ambassador from PNG. As the Chair of the At-Large Advisory Committee, I was introduced and was photographed by many of our global At-Large members and spent a lot of time introducing them to our work, and explaining our role within ICANN.

At-large @ IGF Paris

Participating with the the DC Internet Rights and Principles

Posing in front of the one "banner" we had on the wall

Our fantastic photographic team- Glenn & Natalia

Benefits of participation

Overall the event provided a range of beneficial inputs into the work that I will be involved in during the ensuing months as I work on the ICT Strategy, especially in relation to human rights issue reflecting the need for gender equality, accessibility and affordability issues; emergency management connectivity tools; and the benefit of the imminent submarine cable for development of communities, businesses and government. The building of a relationship with government agencies will also support the development of an ADB-funded eGovernment project which is developing alongside that of the ICT Strategy and will be planned in tandem, so that it can be rolled out once the Strategy is in place


As well, a continued presence whenever I was not involved in a presentation or reporting session, I was providing a face of At-Large as the new Chair, and introducing myself to members and staff of the ICANN organisation that we were representing, as well as partner organisations who were also in the booth area with whom we need to maintain relations with regards to supporting the capacity building and outreach and engagement activities to build capacity of our members – of the  Cook Islands Internet Action Group (Cook Islands), the Pacific Islands Chapter of the Internet Society and the Asian Australasian and Pacific islands Regional At-Large Organisation (regional) and the At-Large Advisory Committee – all of which I have a leadership role in. 

Dangerous-looking characters who appeared to just walk in off the street - but seemed to enjoy themselves.

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