Multistakeholder Internet Governance and Sustainable Development

Internet governance is the development and application of principles, norms, decision making and programs that shape the utilization of the internet. However, the actual definition of internet governance is up for debate, as some question who has the authority to control the internet. Some believe it is the job of the government, while civil society and corporations feel that they should have larger participation in internet governance. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has no control over the available content on the internet but is a global organization that works to protect the security and safety of the internet.

Lawrence Strickling cites multi-stakeholder internet governance as, “the best mechanism for maintaining an open, resilient, and secure Internet because, among other things, it is informed by a broad foundation of interested parties – including businesses, technical experts, civil society, and governments – arriving at consensus through a bottom-up process regarding policies affecting the underlying functioning of the Internet domain system.” Multi-stakeholder internet governance increases global ability to address internet policy reform. The internet governance forum (IGF) is a multi-stakeholder platform that discusses the internet and public policy.

The 12th annual meeting will take place during the month of December in 201 to discuss the theme, “Shape your digital Future.” It will discuss Generation Z and the challenges of internet identity and works to create solutions to increase digital communication. It will also discuss internet regulation, security and safety concerns for growing youths.

Internet governance is a part of sustainable development. In 2007 the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) research internet governance’s view on sustainable development. Research included:

  • Governance processes
  • economic barriers to development
  • developing countries to participate in international governance
  • access to knowledge
  • indicators for development.

 

As a result, IISD developed a series of papers that inclusive internet governance observations, mutual challenges internet governance and sustainable development face, and conclusion as to how to work to promote overall development.  

 

Inclusive Education as a Human Right

Education is a basic human right. If education is a human right, then all education shall be inclusive education. Providing inclusive education is paramount for the establishment of quality education for all those who seek to learn. Increased education is directly correlated to overall development. The Salamanca Statement cites inclusive education as, “recognition of the need to work towards ‘schools for all’ – institutions which include everybody, celebrate differences, support learning, and respond to individual needs’. Inclusive education works largely to ensure that people with disabilities are able to access high levels of education. Furthermore, the United Nations Convention of the Right of Persons with Disabilities describes people with disabilities as, “those who have long-term, physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others’. Because disabilities range across a large spectrum, inclusive education must take into account all of these factors.

Inclusive education also works to change societal norms regarding persons with disabilities. Its goal is to become a norm that persons with disabilities are able to access education and education facilities without obstacles or extra costs.

 

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies has worked to create, The Model Policy for Inclusive ICTs in Education for Persons with Disabilities. This document works to develop a “model policy” for nations to utilize as a template. It also works to encourage countries to further implement the UNCRPD. It includes processes for policy development and reform to achieve smaller and wider goals of expanding education sectors within countries and regions. The initiative emphasizes inclusive ICTs within education for individuals who have disabilities. It states that no person shall be a victim to the exclusion of education at any level.

 

The policy also talks about funding opportunities for persons with disabilities and inclusive education. Often times, inclusive education can be costly. It states the following recommendations to ensure proper budgeting and funding:

-Decentralising the use of funds within the education system that allows flexibility in supporting the use of inclusive ICTs in education.

-Defining the roles and responsibilities of all main stakeholders at the national, regional and organizational levels in relation to the budget implementation strategy.

-Securing and effectively co-ordinating inclusive ICT-related funding from different ministerial budgets (information society, social affairs, health, education, etc.)

 

Overall, inclusive education is an important facet of inclusive sustainable development and shall constantly work to include marginalized groups.

ICTs and Inclusive Sustainable Development and Digital Divide(s)

Technology is a constantly changing field. It prides itself on innovation. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are the technologies in the conveying, manipulation, and storage of data through electronics. This includes radio, televisions, smartphones, computers and other tablet devices, etc. Particularly before the internet was invested, populations relied on radios for their information, and have a long-stemmed history in how political actors and important figures used radio to convey messages to populations. Technology and these platforms of receiving technology can be used for education purposes, to not only increase information and research but to expand the ways in which individuals can receive and give and education. It moved education away from the classroom, which creates further opportunities for youth and adults.

 

However, within developing countries, technology is not nearly as accessible. There is an overall lack of infrastructure for these types of mechanisms within developing areas. Therefore, it is necessary to increase the groundwork for projects like technological infrastructure, as it will increase the ability for rural populations to obtain an education.

 

Sustainable Development Goals can utilize ICTs within their framework. The world has accepted SDGs and has committed to working to achieve them. Therefore it is necessary that all countries explore all options and tools available. ICTs can be utilized to drive progress and help countries achieve benchmarks. The Earth Institute of Columbia University discusses the potential barriers between SDGs and ICTs. It stated that policies and regulations need to play catch-up to the ever-changing innovations of ICTs and continuously re-work mechanisms to achieve their goals.

 

Furthermore, the report also discusses how public policy and regulations are not fully utilizing ICTs and that more infrastructure is needed to decrease the number of people who do not currently have access to the internet. There needs to be a heightened collaboration between the public and private sector, to increase funding opportunities to increase opportunities for populations to utilize ICTs.

 

The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) is a United Nations-sponsored event that discusses.  information and communication. WSIS+10 was representative of the decades since the first summit in 2005. The summit mainly works on the implementation of technologies in developing countries. Through this summit, steps are being taken to allow populations to utilize ICTs to their fullest extent, and in turn, allow countries to work towards achieving 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Disaster Risk Reduction and the Sendai Framework

In the wake of climate change and increased pollutions, natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and more, are becoming more common across the globe. The United Nations Office for Disaster and Risk Reduction state that these events are more about disaster hazards, and as a result are working towards reducing the damage caused by such events. These disasters can have a serious impact on not only environmental but also infrastructure and societies as a whole. Depending on the severity of the disaster, it can have major impacts on how individuals live their lives. For instance, Puerto Rico is still struggling to regain power. Furthermore, this disaster left families with little to nothing as their homes and belongings were completely destroyed.  Disaster risk reduction works to reduce the risk of disaster by examining its causes. These include:

-exposure to hazards

-minimizing vulnerability

-land management

-improving preparedness

-increased detection of warnings for disasters.

Risk reduction for disasters is about not only reducing risk after disasters have already happened but also mitigating disasters by improving preparedness for populations.

 

The Sendai Framework is a 15-year agreement that discusses the role of multi-stakeholders in disaster risk reduction. Work for this framework began in 2012 and proceeded with negotiations in 2014-2015. It focuses on practical and evidence-based guidance. There are 7 global targets that include: reduce disaster mortality, individuals affected, economic loss, infrastructure, increase international cooperation and availability and access to resources to disaster risk information. Furthermore, there are 4 priorities of action:

  1. Understanding disaster risk
  2. Strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk
  3. Investing in disaster risk reduction
  4. Enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response and to “Build Back Better” in recovery, rehabilitation, and reconstruction.

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction calls for guidance on implementation support and works to continuously engage multilateral stakeholders, strengthen accountability, and overall reduce disaster risk. The framework wants to capitalize on the opportunity of mutual reinforcement between states and international agreements. It works to increase reporting by state actors, continued collaboration. Goal setting and target indicators, and cooperation across the multiple actors involved in the framework.  

Intersectionalities and Sustainable Development

Intersectionality has become quite a” buzzword” both within academics and everyday life. Intersectionality and the impact of intersectionality in institutions has become increasingly discussed. Intersectionality refers to the interconnectedness of social categories such as race, class, sexuality, gender, ethnicity, etc. These categories create overlapping systems of discrimination, and puts people at a disadvantage. Intersectionality calls for the simultaneous examination of these identities, how they relate to each other, and how they relate to personal development. Intersectionality also bring up the idea of power and how power has created social hierarchies that perpetuate the advantage or disadvantage of certain aspects of identities.

 

Intersectionality and inclusive development are widely interdependent. SDGs should take an intersectional approach, to account for gender, youth and disability and how they will influence each other. For instance, women are already a marginalized group, in comparison to men. However women throughout different communities will face different types of oppression to put them at a further disadvantage. Economic oppression for example: Some women, depending on ethnicity, race and class will have larger opportunities for economic mobility than others. Class widely intersects with access to education, as those of a higher class will be able to obtain more formal education. Education in turn, allows for more opportunities to increase social and economic status. This example highlights the interconnectivity of identities, and how the overlapping of identities relates to power structures and hierarchies.Women with disabilities are put at an even heightened disadvantage. The needs for not only those with disabilities, but for women with with disabilities is often underrepresented within social reform and development strategies. Therefore, it is necessary that SDGs and other united nations organizations work to create ways to understand how these identities will hurt overall development, exclude individuals and in turn create tactics and goals that work to include them.   

 

As populations are increasing life expectancy, it is also important to understand the intersectionality of age and development. For instance, older people have a higher risk of developing a disability. There needs to be more research on how age and older populations can be taken into account in policy reform.

 

Kimberle Crenshaw, a scholar who is most noted for her work on intersectionality and African-American women. She catches the essence of how intersectionality impacts inclusive sustainable development when she states, “If efforts began with addressing the needs and problems of those who are most disadvantaged and with restructuring and remaking the world more necessary, then others who are singularly disadvantaged would also benefit.”

Inclusive Cities and New Urban Agenda

According to the Collaborative for Inclusive Urbanism, an inclusive city is, “a city in which the processes of development include a wide variety of citizens and activities. These cities maintain their wealth and creative power by avoiding marginalization, which compromises the richness of interaction upon which cities depend.” Inclusive cities bring together marginalized groups and increased access to basic resources and share urban spaces. Inclusive cities allow all individuals to gain access to sustainable living, whether it be through housing, water, and sanitation, green energy, etc. Inclusive cities are also known as “smart cities” as they include the needs of everyone. 

Inclusive cities largely include rights to people with disabilities. For example, public transportation should not only be efficient in that it gives access to the entirety of the city for large ranges of the day, but also includes audio capabilities for those who are blind and visually impaired. Furthermore, it should have accessibility for those with physical impairments so they can easily utilize public transportation.

Inclusive, “Smart cities” also bear in mind how increased urbanization can also lead to increased pollution. As a result, there is a focus to increase green energy, and create buildings that are eco-friendly. The New Urban Agenda has a multitude of projects across the globe that are ensuring eco-construction. These projects include collaboration between private actors and civil society.

The New Urban Agenda, through the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, is a framework that outlines city planning and enables urban sustainability. The power of cities and its influence on overall development has lead to the continuation of strategizing further urban cultivation. The New Urban Agenda states, “By 2050, the world’s urban population is expected to nearly double, making urbanization one of the twenty-first century’s most transformative trends. In 2016, the UN conference focused on sustainable urban development through the inclusion of leaders from the local, and national level. Furthermore, Habitat III also included civil society and private actors in order to further promote its goals.

Habit III is unique in that it is committed to including multiple stakeholders in the conversation of urban development, as inclusive cities involve all marginalized groups. Allowing multiple groups to sit at the table increases personal responsibility in regards to urban development, which only further promotes overall development. It also gives others the opportunities to have side events that can have further detailed conversations regarding issues.

Citiscope has noted that “last year’s Habitat III negotiations were hung up for many months on what was known as “follow-up and review” — namely, whether UN-Habitat, the agency that focuses on urbanization, will be responsible for overseeing implementation of the New Urban Agenda at the U. N. level.” The General Assembly secretary has stated it is committed to monitoring and evaluating the New Urban Agenda and to ensure its impartiality and starting in 2018 will report back to the General Assembly every four years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Development, SDGs and the HLPF

According to Amartya Sen, development is the expansion of citizen capabilities through increasing access and opportunities. There are various stakeholders and aspects needed in order to continue development within societies. Sen discusses the importance of discussion, criticisms, and debates as a method of democracy that encourages constant reform. Furthermore, Acemoglu and Robinson state that the reasons for country’s lack of development lie in their inability to create incentives for institutions to save. As a result, the United Nations has developed methods of ensuring the increased opportunities and capabilities are given to various citizens. One of the most well-known methods is the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals

 

The 2030 Sustainable Development goals are meant to be adopted by countries in order to end poverty, sustainability efforts on the planet, and to aid marginalized groups. Each goal is outlined with methods of measuring the success of each country and specific targets. In order to hold accountability and make sure countries are working towards targets, the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) was created. It further provided guidance on how countries can include multiple stakeholders such as governments, the private sector, civil society and other affected parties. The HLPF has an annual timeline up to 2030, and includes the various SDGs each year is currently focussing on.

 

One main issue I have with the HLPF guideline is that is extremely vague. Each SDG can be applicable to all countries. However, countries are at various points, and inequalities cannot be ignored. For instance, although a country in the global north and south have made efforts to increase green energy, countries in the global south may feel that poverty alleviation may be more important. As a result, they may not have the same timeline as the global north, who has already significantly decreased poverty. It would be interesting to see if the HLPF were able to further break down their timeline across the regions, taking their needs and abilities into account and then establishing a timeline that would best suit that region’s interest.

 

Furthermore, it is important to understand the intersectionalities within the SDGs. For instance, reducing inequalities intersects with reducing gender equality, quality education, and peace justice and stronger institutions. No poverty and zero hunger also largely intersect. While it is clear that the United Nations has separated these developmental goals because they are different in scope, it is important the the HLPF and other UN bodies work together to establish how the intersectionality of these development goals can be utilized in order to propel countries in achieving annual and millennial goals.  Overall SDGs and the HLPF confront Grand Challenges head on and have developed a collaborative approach to working towards creating a stronger, interdependent world.