The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) stands as the world’s premier annual gathering of stakeholders from diverse sectors, converging to discuss and influence the trajectory of the internet’s future. The 2023 IGF, hosted in Kyoto, Japan, from October 8-12, marked a pivotal moment. At this juncture, the internet confronts numerous challenges, elevating the significance of this event in shaping its future.
Reflecting on my personal experience at IGF 2023, it was nothing short of enriching. The multitude of workshops and the community’s eagerness to engage in spontaneous discussions left me in awe. However, amidst the vibrant exchange of ideas, a notable observation was the often marginal role played by the youth in discussions, with many assuming passive roles.
The Challenges of a New Era for the Internet
Foremost among the challenges discussed was the looming threat of internet fragmentation. Governments and private entities are increasingly vying to control distinct sections of the internet, heightening the risk of a fractured and siloed digital landscape. The repercussions of such fragmentation include restricted access to information and services, as well as a potential stifling of innovation.
Another critical challenge that emerged is the ascendancy of AI and other emerging technologies. While these technologies hold the potential to revolutionize various aspects of our lives, they also bring forth risks, such as job displacement and the potential misuse of data. Navigating this landscape requires a concerted effort to ensure the responsible and ethical development and application of these transformative technologies.
In addition to these challenges, the internet grapples with the spread of misinformation and disinformation, the surge in cybercrime, and the erosion of online privacy.
The bright spot amid these challenges is the IGF 2023’s success in bringing together a diverse array of stakeholders from across the globe. The forum’s overarching theme, “The Internet We Want – Empowering All People,” served as a reminder that the internet is a global resource that should be accessible and beneficial to everyone.
What I Learned from the World’s Leading Internet Experts:
The internet is a global resource, and it needs to be governed accordingly. The current system of internet governance is fragmented and siloed, which makes it difficult to address global challenges. We need a more inclusive and participatory system of internet governance that reflects the global nature of the internet.
- We need to invest in digital literacy and education. Many people around the world do not have the skills and knowledge they need to use the internet safely and effectively. We need to invest in programs that teach people about digital literacy and online safety.
- We need to protect our online privacy and security. The internet has become a breeding ground for cybercrime and data breaches. We need to take steps to protect our online privacy and security, both as individuals and as societies.
- We need to ensure that the internet is accessible to everyone. The internet is still a luxury for many people around the world. We need to work to make the internet more affordable and accessible to everyone, regardless of their income or location.
- We need to promote diversity and inclusion on the internet. The internet should be a place where everyone feels welcome and respected. We need to work to promote diversity and inclusion on the internet, both in terms of the content that is available and the people who are participating in online communities.
These are just a few of the many things that I learned from the world’s leading internet experts at IGF 2023. It was an inspiring event, and it gave me hope for the future of the internet. I believe that if we work together, we can create a more open, inclusive, and equitable internet for everyone.
What can we all do to help? From youth role perspective:
Now, moving from reflection to action, the question arises: What can we all do to contribute, especially from the perspective of the youth?
- Active Youth Participation:
A resounding call at IGF 2023 was for increased and active youth participation. It became clear that for internet governance to be truly inclusive and effective, the youth must step forward, engage in discussions, and challenge existing norms. Our unique perspectives can inject fresh ideas and innovative solutions into the discourse.
- Advocacy for Digital Literacy:
The need for enhanced digital literacy emerged as a critical point. In a world dominated by technology, the youth can take the lead in advocating for educational programs that equip individuals with the skills to navigate the digital landscape responsibly.
- Promotion of Inclusivity:
Internet access should transcend geographical and socio-economic boundaries. As youth advocates, we can champion initiatives that bridge the digital divide, ensuring that the internet is a fundamental right accessible to all.
- Responsible Use of Emerging Technologies:
Given the prominence of AI and emerging technologies, the youth, as early adopters, bear the responsibility of advocating for their ethical and responsible use. Staying informed about potential risks and benefits positions us to contribute to shaping policies that balance innovation and societal well-being.
- Combatting Misinformation:
Misinformation emerged as a significant threat. The youth can play a pivotal role in combatting misinformation by promoting media literacy, fact-checking, and responsible information sharing.
IGF 2023 underscored that the future of the internet is a shared responsibility. The active involvement of the youth is not just encouraged but essential. By embracing our role as catalysts for positive change, we can collectively work towards shaping an internet that truly empowers and benefits all. The discussions and collaborations fostered at IGF 2023 serve as a catalyst for a more inclusive, secure, and innovative digital future.