Multi-stakeholder Governance and the IGF

Technology can make the world a smaller place. With technology you can communicate with someone in another country in real time, as if they were sitting with you. With technology there is also more opportunity for multi-stakeholder global governance. One example of multi-stakeholder global governance is the Internet Governance Forum or IGF. The IGF was created after it became clear at the first phase of the WSIS conference in 2003 that internet governance was a key issue. The purpose of the IGF is to bring varying stakeholders together as equals and exchange information and best practices, as well as facilitating a common understanding of how to maximize internet opportunities and address risks. While the IGF does not directly create policy, the discussions that are had can greatly shape the international agenda and set the ground work for negotiations.

Multi-stakeholder global governance bodies such as the IGF have many strengths. One of these strengths is that when there are multiple stakeholders, there are more perspectives and more information. This is a key aspect of the IGF because the more information that can be obtained, the stronger the knowledge base, which benefits every participant in the forum. Another strength of multi-stakeholder global governance is it gives developing countries the same opportunities as wealthier countries that have established dominance in fields such as internet governance. Developing countries having these same opportunities are important because, as detailed in the Missing Link and Falling Through the Net, technology is crucial to development. Without technology, it is harder to develop agriculture, health care, education, and almost every other area that governments are responsible for. Because of the importance of technology, it is crucial that developing nations have the opportunity to participate in the IGF because through the sharing of information and best practices, those countries can start bridging the technological gap between them and wealthier nations.

Multi-stakeholder global governance also allows for stakeholders who wouldn’t normally be included such as NGOs and other organizations to take part in discussions. This is beneficial because it allows for different perspectives and different ideas to be included. However, there are till many barriers to participation such as cost, travel, and a lack of personnel. In order to make multi-stakeholder governance truly inclusive, we must take into account the costs that participating for stakeholders face, and make global governance more accessible for those organizations that may not have as much money or funding.