Pacific Islands Chapter at the Asia Pacific Regional IGF held in Vladivostok, Russia.

 

The Asia Pacific Regional IGF was held on July 16-19 2019 at the recently constructed Far Eastern Federal University on Russky Island in Vladivostok, Russia.  The theme of this year’s event was " Enabling a Safe, Secure and Universal Internet for all in Asia Pacific " with 22 sessions covering six sub-themes – (1) Safer Internet, Cyber-security and Regulation; (2) Access and Universality; (3) Emerging Technologies and Society; (4) Human Rights online; (5) Evolving role of Internet Governance and Multistakeholder Participation; and (6) Digital Economy.

 

  James Ahwai, Maureen Hilyard and Anju Mangal from PICISOC

 

The Board of the Pacific Islands Chapter of the Internet Society (PICISOC) was represented by Maureen Hilyard (Cook Islands) and Anju Mangal (Fiji).  James Ahwai is a newcomer to the IG scene, but he willingly participated as a panelist in the Opening Plenary on "The State of Play and Outlook for IG in the Asia Pacific" and contributed a Pacific perspective in just about every session he attended. Anju, a former MAG member, moderated the closing Plenary on "APRIGF Multistakeholder Participation in the Global IGF" as well as contributed her views on various IG issues during the week.

 

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Maureen ran a workshop which was a follow-up to a session on "eGovernment for Empowering Pacific Citizens" which was introduced at the APRIGF in Vanuatu last year. This year, PICISOC Board member, Cherie Lagakali (a participant in the 2018 event and this time attending remotely, and very clearly, from Fiji in the Pacific) provided an excellent overview of Fiji's new eGov website which has been developed with the support of the Singapore Government. Our working groups compared Fiji’s citizen focused features with other eGov websites.  An addition to the program, was a report on the eGovernment Roundtable that Anju and fellow PICISOC Board member, Andrew Molivurae attended in Korea last month.  Guest participant at this year’s eGov session and the APRIGF was Chengetai Masango of the IGF Secretariat.  The Pacific Islands Chapter members will pass on a report of the sessions that they participated in, to the Dynamic Coalition on Small Island States in the Digital Economy for the Global IGF.

 

 

(Back, L to R) Naveed, Maureen, Babu, Raj (Front) Anatoliy

 

Former PICISOC Chair, Rajnesh Singh did a great job not only as the APRIGF Chair but also as the stand-in moderator on many occasions, such as for the Digital Accessibility panel which included Anatoliy Popko (Russia), a member of the President's Committee on Disability as well as Disability advocate Gunela Astbrink (ISOC Australia) who participated remotely. Others on the panel were Naveed Haq (ISOC), Maureen Hilyard (PICISOC) and Babu Ram Aryal (Nepal - the venue for APRIGF 2020).

 

APRALO also featured at the event. Satish and Maureen participated in the introduction to APRIGF Fellows and Next Gen participants to regional organisations who are part of the AP* community. Satish introduced APRALO and its activities in the region while Maureen explained about the ALAC and its role in coordinating activities of the different RALOs globally. They were accompanied at this event by Lianna and Nadira who were also active participants in a number of sessions during the week.

 

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One of the unique features of the APRIGF is a Synthesis Document that is produced after the APRIGF event by a Drafting Committee of volunteers. Each day a Town Hall session is held where participants offer an important takeaway from a particular session they participated in during the day or they may contribute some additional thoughts to the synthesis document based on what might have been raised during a session. These contributions are collated into a document under the six sub-themes of the conference which becomes a summary of the hot topics, views and perspectives from this event. Participants can reference these ideas when they are participating in other similar events as the views of those who attended this year's APRIGF event. At the Global IGF in Geneva in 2017, we held a workshop in which we presented our Synthesis Document from the APRIGF for that year and explained its methodology and purpose. The work on the document is coordinated by the APRIGF Secretariat which is sponsored by DotAsia.

 

Contributing to the success of this event were the   great communications teams who were on hand in each of the session rooms. The state-of-the-art equipment at the university ensured quality sessions with clear inputs by every participant (both remotely and in the room). Real time transcription as well as multiple screens, were also available - the sort of thing we can only wish for in the Pacific. But it   certainly raised the benchmark for ensuring that we had a great conference.   Many thanks to Mikhail, Leonid and the Russian APRIGF Team for a great conference and a great gala event as well.

 

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Maureen Hilyard

Pacific Islands Chapter

Cook Islands