The multistakeholder governance framework is composed of three key ideas: “open-ended unleashed innovation,” “decentralized governance institutions,” and “open and inclusive processes,” as stated in the article “Internet Governance – Why the Multistakeholder Approach Works” In other words, multistakeholder governance focuses on infrastructure, governance, and humans. This article notes that multistakeholder decision-making is effective and sustainable, which is relevant to our inquiry on inclusive sustainable development. Rather than thinking of the multistakeholder approach as a single solution/model, we should think of it as a tool system that prioritizes “individuals and organizations from different realms participating alongside each other to share ideas or develop consensus policy” (“Internet Governance”). Thus, solutions and models under the multistakeholder framework may differ in some ways, yet they will all prioritize open and inclusive participation from different perspectives. In relation to the Internet ecosystem, the article states that “the Internet’s governance reflects the Internet itself: open, distributed, interconnected, and trans-national.” As the Internet ecosystem grows, public and private organizations rely not just on the Internet, but also on the multistakeholder approach, which mirrors the “Internet way of doing things” (“Internet Governance”). Following the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in 2005, many international and multilateral organizations have come out in support of the multistakeholder approach, including the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2008 and the NETmundial conference in 2014, among many others (“Internet Governance”). The article notes that as the Internet evolves, so will the multistakeholder approach. As the multistakeholder approach evolves, certain attributes should be maintained, such as inclusiveness and transparency, collective responsibility, effective decision-making, and collaboration through distributed and interoperable governance (“Internet Governance”). It is incredibly exciting and important that in addition to being characterized as sustainable, as mentioned above, multistakeholder approaches are also working towards inclusiveness. This approach seems to really fit with our class themes. Outside of this class, I have not heard much about multistakeholder governance/approaches, and I am interested in the reason behind this. I feel that this approach is relevant not just in Internet governance or in inclusive sustainable development, but in many other aspects of life (e.g., in discussions on power hierarchies, political representation, public policy, the bureaucracy of the education system, etc.).
NETmundial is a shorter name for a conference titled “NETmundial – Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance,” which was held in São Paulo, Brazil in April 2014 (netmundial.org). This meeting led to the endorsement of two activities intended to help with the implementation of ofs mission statement, “to provide a platform that helps catalyze practical cooperation between all stakeholders in order to address internet issue and advance the implementation of the NETmundial Principles and Roadmap” (netmundial.org). These two activities include the NETmundial Solutions Map, which supports information sharing and collaboration across Internet governance issues and the NETmundial Collaboration Platform, which aims to “catalyze practical cooperation between all stakeholders” (netmundial.org). It is clear in NETmundial’s mission statement and in its two endorsed activities that the elements of the multistakeholder approach, notably interconnectedness and openness, are prioritized.
We have learned about and engaged in discussions concerning multistakeholder approaches throughout the semester. However, this week’s readings highlight the essentiality of multistakeholder participation in Internet governance. In a world ever-dependent on the Internet, how does Internet governance take care to include those historically excluded, specifically persons with disabilities, for whom the Internet and other technologies can be difficult to use/access? How can we use multistakeholder approaches in Internet governance to facilitate greater access to the Internet and other technologies? How can multistakeholder approaches shape discussions on the relationship between information and communication technologies (ICTs) and Internet governance? In an article published by the Council on Foreign Relations titled “What Is Internet Governance?” US surveillance practices including the monitoring of foreign leaders are brought up, notably how their controversial nature has sparked debate over Internet governance. How can multistakeholder approaches lead to bipartisan discussions on Internet governance? This is a relevant question, particularly because next month is Election Day and we hear news of potential foreign interference in our election. How can multistakeholder approaches in Internet governance contribute to conflict and conversely, to peace? These are questions for which I do not have an answer, but rather, I am trying to portray how multistakeholder approaches can spawn new modes of inquiry within the Internet governance realm.
While Internet governance might not be explicitly relevant to my capstone project that focuses on how persons with disabilities are excluded from the implementation of SDG 3, measured against National Indicator Framework Indicators 3.8.1 and 3.8.8, there are definitely lessons from this topic to apply to my project. In my previous discussion post, I posed the questions, “How can ICTs be used to promote inclusive health development in India? More specifically, how can ICTs promote quality healthcare access and universal health coverage, the two SDG indicators on which my project is based? In a world of increasing telehealth usage, particularly during COVID-19 (and India has been at the forefront of COVID-19 cases), how can ICTs facilitate greater access and coverage?” While these questions concern ICTs, Internet governance is relevant as it influences access to ICTs, rules when using ICTs, etc. I am not an expert on the relationship between Internet governance and ICTs, and would love for anyone to help me better understand this! While considering ICTs as a means of dissolving the disparities in healthcare access and universal health coverage between persons with disabilities and persons without disabilities in India, I might think about the role of Internet governance in India, and within the healthcare industry more specifically. Again, I am not an expert on Internet governance in India/the healthcare industry, so these ideas will be bolstered by more in-depth research.