Multistakeholder Internet Governance and Sustainable Development

Multistakeholder Internet Governance is an incredibly important concept that can actually act as a solution to some of the challenges discussed in the previous blog post regarding the digital divide. The term “multistakeholder” is, in itself, inclusive and therefore allows for policies that reflect the needs of many different groups, including marginalized groups such as disabled persons. Because the SDGs are such a multitudinous group of goals, there are countless actors that are promoting and working on their implementation. From local government participation to global initiatives, each goal contains elements that require the cooperation of many different communities in order to surpass the Grand Challenges that are facing our local society. Each actor brings its own methodology, action plan, and set of skills to the table, emphasizing the importance of having multistakeholder governance as a major pillar of solving global development problems.

Because we live in a society where technology grows at an astounding rate every single day, the concept of internet governance holds a lot of importance. There must be constant improvement, constant administration of the internet due to the fact that it is what connects every and all communities that withhold access to it. It’s important to have more than one stakeholder in the governance of the internet, i.e. the government, because this allows a much more comprehensive approach to the governance of it and it also allows the free flow of discussion of policy issues and potential improvements. This multistakeholder approach has allowed an intensified sense of inclusivity within the public forum. For instance, the Internet Governance Forum, a forum for multi-stakeholder dialogue on public policy that are related to internet governance issues, website quotes that their main goal is to “facilitate inclusive, productive discussions on Internet related public policy issues from a general perspective, while keeping all stakeholders involved.” This sentence is a quintessential of what this entire class is based upon; the inclusivity of all groups for the betterment of development and forward thinking. In terms of disabled persons, the more access to things such as internet governance, the louder the voice of their community, leading to more inclusive policies and heightened participation of these marginalized communities. By allowing these communities to have a voice in something as important as the internet, the rest of the world will now be able to create real, meaningful change when it comes to issues that are specific to the communities.

Inclusive sustainable development is only possible if it is, naturally, inclusive. For instance, multistakeholder internet governance is such an important concept for developmental organizations because it allows these groups to aid in efforts that they are the most educated about. In summary, we have these NGOs or these grassroots organizations that are doing hands-on work, getting to know these target populations on a more personal level and acquiring knowledge that most other groups would not be able to receive otherwise. For example, a previous professor of mine lived in Haiti for months studying soil degradation, living with the community and learning their farming techniques. After an elongated time of living with these people, he realized that the efforts the government was making in order to salvage the soil was mostly commercialized and targeted at the “most popular locations” where the United States had the most advertizing rights. Because of this, the local communities where the soil was needed the most were receiving little to no help and were suffering the most. Through working with them, he received a heightened amount of knowledge that allowed him to implement local policies that actually helped the local farms and soils in a way that was not only sustainable but specific to the populations that were using the strategies. In a larger sense, anything that is multistakeholder, not just internet governance, allows for the open dialogue between those who are familiar with the targeted areas and those who are familiar with the technologies to help to collaborate and create necessary, productive change. In terms of inclusive sustainable development, this should be regarded as the best tactic.

In addition to this tactic, macro-level solutions are also important. For instance, international organizations such as the World Bank and the HLPF promote international cooperation on a larger scale, allowing governments to notice the importance of these issues and advocating for global initiatives to help with the SDGs. This can be done through legally binding treaties and government initiated policies that enforce certain strategies. The combination of all these differing strategies leads to an inclusive form of sustainable development, emphasizing the importance of multistakeholder internet governance and multistakeholder governance on the whole.