The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is calling for inputs into its Policy Network on Meaningful Access (PNMA) that are inclusive, useful, sustainable and affordable, and linked to human capacity development and relevant content that can make it so. It has set up a mailing list through which all relevant information will be communicated and invited all interested stakeholders to subscribe to it.
This call is borne out of the fact that for access to the Internet to make a meaningful contribution to improving people’s lives locally, for strengthening national economies, and more broadly to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it has to be approached holistically.
The PNMA will take in-depth look at why achieving meaningful and universal Internet access remains so challenging, in spite of years of efforts by policy makers and other actors from all stakeholder groups aimed at addressing the issue.
It will also assess and gather good practices and policy recommendations that have already been discussed at the IGF; identify what the key barriers are to these not being implemented and facilitate networking among actors from all stakeholder groups who are concerned with the issue. It will further provide linkages between the efforts on the ground and the IGF stakeholders who are undertaking related efforts, as well as create opportunities for the voices of those who are affected by the lack of meaningful access to be part of policy debate and development.
The IGF has assured that the process for gathering inputs would be bottom-up, open and continuous throughout the IGF 2021 preparatory process, adding that inputs would be gathered through the resources of the working group in addition to a community’s input.
All working group meetings, according to the IGF, would be open to the community for a broader discussion and the community will be able to communicate inputs through different outreach forms, ranging from surveys, monthly webinars and online meetings, bilateral meetings etc.
The Forum disclosed that the PNMA’s work would be facilitated by a dedicated multistakeholder working group of experts whose membership would include leading intergovernmental and international organisations, UN member states, parliaments, research academic institutions, leading private sector companies and representatives of technical communities, national, regional and youth IGFs and other stakeholders whose work is relevant for the PNMA.
The PNMA, which will have close linkages with the IGF 2021 high-level and parliamentary tracks, will be a gathering point for all those interested to contribute to the matter with their expertise and experience. With advice from dedicated co-facilitators of the IGF Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG), it will also work closely with the existing networks of the IGF, including the Dynamic Coalitions, Best Practice Forums, National Regional, Sub-Regional and Youth IGF initiatives, as well as all other stakeholders, including the session organisers and IGF annual meeting participants.
Stakeholders that are not traditionally involved in the IGF process but have an interest in this topic are encouraged to actively participate.
Over the last five years, the concept of meaningful access or connectivity has emerged in response to the growing pieces of evidence which show that even when people have connectivity, they often do not make use of the Internet. Availability of free content and services in local languages offering appropriate services and materials tailor-made on the basis of the needs of local citizens, who should be treated not only as consumers or users, but as informed citizens in their own right, is as important as providing accessible connection.
To make contributions into the PNMA, interested stakeholders are invited to subscribe to the dedicated mailing list (firstname.lastname@example.org).