The Role of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

The High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) “has a central role in the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs,” according to the Sustainable Development Goals site page dedicated to the HLPF. The HLPF meets annually under the Economic and Social Council and meets every four years under the General Assembly (“High-Level Political Forum”). Notably, the Forum asks member states to “conduct regular and inclusive reviews at the national and sub-national levels, which are country-led and country-driven” (“High-Level Political Forum”). These national reviews are used by the HLPF when they conduct their review process (“High-Level Political Forum”). The HLPF works well in the sense that it allows countries to conduct their own, voluntary reviews that are used as the basis for the Forum’s review. This allows for experts, government organizations, and civil society organizations to participate in the specific country’s Voluntary National Review. Further, this allows for the report to be grounded in the country’s specific context, which is often left out in development discourse that traditionally imposes the West’s perception of global development. Country context is essential to assessing the progress of the SDGs. The HLPF could be improved to promote inclusive sustainable development by implementing accountability measures for those members on the Forum. How are these members chosen for the Forum? Do these members represent the diversity of both the SDGs (including experts on poverty, education, water, energy, etc.) and the member states (including representation from different countries in different regions)? 

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Multistakeholder Internet Governance and Sustainable Development

Globalization of our world has been larger due to and rapidly pushed forward by the Internet. Since its inception several decades ago, the internet has offered expansion and new opportunities for businesses, schools and education, news and information sharing, as well as institution creation and sustainment. The fluidity and accessibility however, poses a challenge for international and governmental bodies to control; I would even argue more so hard for them to adapt to as well. While some countries, such as China, have found ways within their governance strategies to have a better grasps of control over the internet, versus other countries, such as the United States that have a different governance strategies that make internet governance a grand challenge, no one governmental body will be able to properly govern the internet alone. This is why it is important to have a multistakeholder approach and collaborative effort between governments and international bodies to properly and efficient govern the internet.

According to the Internet Society, an organization dedicated to global internet development, the best and most efficient way to govern the internet is through the multistakeholder governance framework which consist of three components of open-ended unleashed innovation and infrastructure, decentralized governance institutions, and open and inclusive processes. These three components are intentional as they are formulated to approach the international norm that the Internet lives in as well as make the policy formulation process more optimal for a globally distributed network. The Internet society’s markers for success for a multistakholder approach is if decision making was inclusive and transparent, collective responsibility, effective decision making and implementation, and collaborative through distributed and interoperable governance. This approach forwards SDG 17: Partnership For The Goals, which is intended to strengthen the means of global partnership for sustainable development. Notable as this approach can be a driver for sustainable development through partnership but also could be a threat to countries were strategic partnership for internet governance can be seen as an encroachment off their countries governance.

 The issue of internet governance will not go away as the Internet is so ingrained in the world and interconnects us all to each other. The multistakeholder approach seems the most feasible way to govern the internet, if governance is what is to be sought for the protect of citizens. However, it should be noted that this process may not be adopted as it is also a door for countries to garner influence over other countries and through which can be a threat of encroachment in how a country is governed.

Internet Governance

Since the development of the internet several decades ago, it has grown to be one of the most important aspects of society today. The internet offers vast opportunities for businesses, education, networking and so much more. However, while the lack of international borders on the internet is what makes it such an incredible resource, it also makes it very difficult for international bodies and governments to control and govern what occurs on the internet. An important term to understand when discussing this topic is internet governance. A working definition of internet governance was included in Article 34 of the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society developed at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) that took place in Tunis in 2005. This working definition of internet governance is “the development and application by governments, the private sector and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programs that shape the evolution and use of the Internet”. Rather than being regulated and formed from the top-down, the internet is decentralized and mostly works from the bottom-up with internet stakeholders, civil society and governments all having to work together to create policies. 

One important element to understand about multistakeholder internet governance is that it is not a single solution, but rather a set of tools and practices that see various parties all working together to find solutions, share ideas, and develop policies. For example, the NETmundial Initiative created a set of internet governance principles meant to support the idea that the internet should be managed for the public interest. These principles include: human rights and shared values; protection of intermediaries; culture and linguistic diversity; unified and unfragmented space; security, stability, and resilience of the internet; open and distributed architecture; enabling an environment for sustainable innovation and creativity; and open standards. They also emphasize the importance of internet governance being multistakeholder, transparent, accountable, inclusive and collaborative. These are all important principles for internet governance as the internet is a vitally important global resource. 

Another important body in the internet governance field is the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). The IGF is part of the United Nations, and it is a multistakeholder platform that is responsible for facilitating the discussion of public policy issues pertaining to the internet. I think the platforms such as the IGF are very important for promoting multistakeholder collaboration and creating a space for internet governance issues to be discussed. 

Multi-stakeholder Internet Governance and Sustainable Development

In a time of digital transformation, internet governance is integral to the study of global governance and international development. Within the definition of internet governance, the words development and government are all included. There are many stakeholders important to the study of internet governance. Because so much of society utilizes the Internet to do anything, many business decisions, procedures, programs are regulated through the Internet. The platforms accessible on the internet allows for more stakeholder groupings to be involved. For instance, for those who are not able to attend a development conference because of a certain disability or because of proximity, they are able to access the conference virtually and even contribute through that chat function or through video calls. Although the Internet has revolutionized a lot of our experiences and gave us more opportunities to perform certain tasks, there is a certain risk factor that we need to take into consideration. There are incidences where some people can have too much power or access over other people’s personal data, with a powerful internet system, sometimes there are risks of cyber-attacks and insecure internet systems. For this reason, we need governance of our Internet.

            To me personally, internet governance is a fascinating topic for us to understand the implications and application to the global frameworks that have been discussed in our Senior Capstone class: Inclusive Sustainable Development. There is a huge role that technology plays because we have integrated systems and we are able to have a space that allows for more agility and opens up time and space to communicate across a wide range of groups. The internet seems to lack its governance; therefore, we need regulations by actors. But the question is, who is really governing the Internet and to what extent should the U.S. government be in charge of our Internet accessibilities or data? Do people understand what Internet Governance is? To what extent should the government have control over Internet Governance?

            The multistakeholder approach for internet governance has the idea of decentralizing institutions and governance, opening it up to include everyone and allowing for full participation by all (including persons with disabilities), and having an open-mind aspect for innovation. From my opinion, this approach does work. These components play a huge role in understanding the international norm for enabling decision-making to be accountable, sustainable and effective for all stakeholders. Therefore, there is the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) that allows for people to incorporate and adapt to new challenges surrounding the Internet. I believe what’s truly important to evaluate here is the ability to meet new challenges that evolves around the idea of inclusiveness and transparency.

Ensuring Representative Multistakeholder Governance

When considering the importance of ensuring that a diverse range of people have opportunities to make their voices heard at global levels, it is vital to encourage this sort of multistakeholder participation to start at local levels. At their genesis, multistakeholder groups need accurately represent all invested parties so that they can carry their wants and needs to higher levels.

The inclusion of a wide variety of people at local levels makes state, national and global governance more nuanced and more tailored to people’s needs. This inclusion can also help answer complex and varied development issues that have been unsolvable in the past. Without local knowledge and understanding, policymakers and government officials are quite literally flying blind when it comes to implementing the “best” strategies.

A vital part of ensuring multistakeholder participation at all levels is dialogue and communication. Although these may seem like easy assurances at first, fair and equal conversation can be extremely difficult to facilitate between different people and groups. ICTs and translating services may aid in developing these constructive conversations.

Looking to incorporating local views into an international context, a consensus must be made on what development plan or project would most benefit the greatest amount of people. This is a messy process where it is true that not everyone will be pleased with the outcome, but no one should be harmed by it. There should also be various feedback mechanisms in place that allow policymakers to identify the successful and unsuccessful parts of governance and implementation.

Click to access Engagement-Processes-cp7.pdf

Why Multi stakeholder Governance?

This weeks discussions builds upon last week’s readings on ICTs by focusing on internet governance. Internet governance (IG) encompasses all the rules, standards, and practices that regulate and shape cyberspace. Because there are multiple networks that cover a variety of regions, internet governance becomes a multi stakeholder issue due to the different actors, organizations, and individuals it affects. Internet governance therefore expands to multi stakeholder internet governance, which aims to bring all those different actors to participate in decision making, solutions, dialogue, and implementation of policies and rules related to internet governance. Multi stakeholder governance was a focal point to understand IG in each of our readings. For example, ISOC spoke about the multi stakeholder approach and how it has three components: infrastructure, governance, and humans (Internet Society). To have successful multi stakeholder decision-making to guide a progressing internet society, there needs to be inclusiveness and transparency, collective responsibility, effective decision making, and collaboration through distributed and interoperable governance (Internet Society). ISOC stated that multi stakeholder decision making is great for the reasons we touched upon; the process helps issues where decisions impact a wide range of people with overlapping rights across sectors. Continue reading

Multistakeholder Internet Governance and Sustainable Development

Internet Governance is defined as “the development of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and activities that shape the evolution and use of the Internet” (UNESCO). As the internet has grown and become such an integral part of the human experience globally, it is no surprise that it requires governance. Continue reading

Multistakeholder Internet Governance

The rise of globalization and interconnectedness has had many implications for private and public society. In the beginning of the twentieth century, the concept of world governance emerged- a governance that was not done by one state but was done by all states working together. Instead of one nation controlling the others, this concept would mean that a power separate from the nations themselves would have the ultimate power. This concept eventually led to many regional and global organizations, the largest and arguably most powerful of which is the United Nations. While the UN is far from all-powerful, it represents a multistakeholder global governance: each member state has stake in the organization, as well as countless other groups and organizations. Continue reading

Multistakeholder Internet Governance

With any type of tool or technology that is present in many nations around the world, there is the issue of governance. Who is responsible for how it is run and maintained? As there is no global government, the issue of anarchy makes the governance of transnational issues difficult. However, in recent decades, multistakeholder governance has become the best solution. Continue reading