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The First Cambodia Youth Internet Governance – Was it how I expected?

Hey there, digital explorers and enthusiasts! I’m Peach, a passionate environmental advocate pursuing a green job, and I’m here to share my exciting journey throughout the first inaugural Cambodia Youth Internet Governance (CamYIGF) event. But first, let me share how I got to be part of the incredible organizing committee.

The Unexpected Application

With little knowledge about Internet Governance, I stumbled upon this great opportunity through my involvement in youth empowerment initiatives in Cambodia. I would laugh if I had told myself a year ago that I would be part of the first Cambodia Youth Internet Governance organizing committee. I applied to be part of the team and showcase how I can contribute to building and executing the event program; thankfully, I got selected and become part of the amazing team that I will tell you about.

Pre-event Activities

With my expertise in the debate field, I took the lead in designing the sub-event, two debate rounds over Internet Governance.

One was held between the IISPP Debate Society and the Paragon International University Debate Club. The second round was held between the organizing committee and students from CADT, and the topics revolved around internet governance, except it was more in-depth than the first round.

Providing training and coordinating the pre-event was an experience I always wanted to have. The sub-event goal was to enable audiences to be equipped with some knowledge of Internet governance before attending the actual events one month apart.

Highlights During the Event

I think one of the most memorable experiences from CamYIGF was stepping into the role of the Master of Ceremonies (MC) for the opening ceremony. Welcoming a diverse crowd, including enthusiasts and participants from Phnom Penh and other provinces, was a fantastic way to kick things off.

Throughout the event, I had the privilege of moderating numerous break-out sessions, diving into discussions about digital privacy, cybersecurity, digital inclusion, and the ever-expanding digital landscape. It was fascinating to hear diverse viewpoints and ideas from our speaker including international which was conducted online and our national speaker who was presented on-site, especially hearing the sharing from our fellow attendees.

Managing the event flow alongside the two volunteer teams, including Event Facilitators and Operational Support, was another hurdle we hopped past together for an event of 250 participants. Ensuring each session ran smoothly and participants had an insightful and interactive experience was a rewarding challenge. Having to make many on-spot decisions was one force that kept the event on track and dynamic.

CamYIGF was an intersection of brilliant minds from various sectors, including the government, private sector, experts, and netizens. Networking with many of them, each bringing unique perspectives, was the event’s highlight. From tech gurus to policy experts, I had the opportunity to connect and learn from the best in the field.

And last but not least, the incredible multi-stakeholder meeting! Being part of this dialogue was a true eye-opener as I got to experience what an actual multi-stakeholder discussion would be like. The collaborative spirit and exchange of ideas between stakeholders from different backgrounds left a lasting impression on me as we strive toward collaboration and initiating resolution to improve internet governance in Cambodia.

So, did I get what I expected from CamYIGF?

No, because it exceeded what I expected, and I did not think that the First Cambodia Internet Governance could achieve this milestone.

To summarize my experiences, I was an internet-governance-dehydrated-sponge now soaked up with digital and internet governance knowledge. The sophistication of Internet governance, the policies that shape our online world, and how we can ensure a safer and more inclusive digital space for all were all shown and shared throughout the event; I sincerely hope you can feel them from reading this blog.

What’s next?

The next step for our team is attending the 18th Annual Meeting of Internet Governance Forum in Kyoto, Japan, from the 8th until the 12th of October. As I actively pursue a green job, I’m excited to join many sustainability sessions because they align perfectly with my passion and professional objectives.

I’m excited to be part of the ‘Eco-friendly Policy System for Emerging Technology’ session that will provide essential insights into sustainable tech policy, enhancing my role in the green job sector.

A summit is always a place I love to be in; the ‘IGF 2023 Global Youth Summit’ will allow me to connect with fellow internet or digital enthusiasts to share experiences, learn, and collectively shape a digital landscape that prioritizes not only environmental sustainability but digital and internet governance as a whole.

‘Digital Inclusion & Environmental Sustainability’ is another session that perfectly blends my interests. It allows me to delve into how digital tech can bridge societal gaps while promoting sustainability, extending my wisdom and network in these areas.

Lastly, ‘Community Networks: Digital Sovereignty and Sustainability’ resonates with my dedication to creating a more environmentally conscious digital world. This session will connect me with like-minded experts and practitioners.

My desire to join these sessions arises from my belief that the intersection of emerging technologies, sustainability, and digital inclusion offers opportunities for significant impact.

I’m eagerly looking forward to diving headfirst into the 18th Internet Governance Forum and gaining firsthand insights that will enhance the 2nd Cambodia Internet Governance Forum next year. Our team goal and objectives for attending this year’s Forum is to offer our participants a comparable experience in terms of content, sessions, and overall format to the Internet Governance Forum during our event the following year.

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Exploring the Future of Internet Governance at IGF 2023 in Kyoto, Japan

The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is a global platform where stakeholders from various backgrounds come together to discuss critical issues related to the Internet\'s impact on society. From October 8th to October 12th, I had the chance to attend the IGF 2023 in Kyoto, Japan. In this blog post, I\'ll share my experiences and insights from this significant event, which covered a wide range of topics, from digital cooperation for environmental sustainability to the role of parliamentarians in shaping a trusted internet.IGF 2023 HighlightsThe IGF 2023 opened with powerful remarks from the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and the Prime Minister of Japan, emphasizing the importance of multistakeholder cooperation in addressing global challenges such as sustainable development and climate action. The theme of the event, \"The Internet We Want - Empowering All People,\" highlighted the commitment to creating an inclusive and sustainable digital future.Day 0: Setting the StageThe event\'s first day featured an inspiring opening ceremony and a session on \"Future Network Systems as Open Service Platform in Beyond5G/6G Era.\" This session provided insights into the evolution of network systems, setting the tone for the discussions to come.Day 1: Environmental Sustainability and Trusted InternetOn the first day, I attended two enlightening sessions. \"An Untapped Resource: How Can Digital Cooperation Contribute to the Battle for Our Environment?\" explored the role of digital cooperation in addressing environmental challenges. In \"The Role of Parliamentarians in Shaping a Trusted Internet Empowering All People,\" I learned about the crucial role of legislators in shaping a trustworthy and inclusive Internet.Day 2: AI-Driven EducationDay 2 delved into the future of education with the session \"AI-Driven Learning Revolution in Cambodian Higher Education.\" This discussion was particularly relevant as it explored the potential of AI in transforming Cambodia\'s educational landscape.Day 3: Inclusive Energy TransitionA highlight of my IGF experience was the session on \"Accelerating an Inclusive Energy Transition.\" This session provided valuable insights into the global transition toward sustainable energy sources and the role that digital technologies can play in this transition. It emphasized the importance of ensuring an energy transition that leaves no one behind.Day 4: Rule of Law for Data GovernanceThe final day featured a session on \"Rule of Law for Data Governance,\" which underscored the significance of governing data while respecting the rule of law. This is particularly crucial in the digital age, where data plays a pivotal role in shaping our world.Contributions to CambodiaMy participation in IGF 2023 has equipped me with valuable knowledge and fresh perspectives. I\'m committed to promoting responsible digital technology use, advocating for internet inclusivity, and supporting initiatives that leverage AI for education and sustainable energy transitions in Cambodia. I plan to actively engage in projects that align with these goals, working toward a more connected, sustainable, and inclusive Cambodia.I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Open Development Cambodia (ODC) for their unwavering support in making my participation in IGF 2023 possible. Their support allowed me to engage with global thought leaders and gain a deeper understanding of the pressing issues in internet governance. I look forward to sharing my newfound knowledge and contributing to Cambodia\'s digital future, all made possible by the support of ODC.In conclusion, the IGF 2023 in Kyoto, Japan, was a transformative experience that opened doors to new opportunities and ideas for shaping the future of the internet. With a commitment to positive change, I am excited to play my part in building a brighter digital future for Cambodia and beyond.

Open Development Cambodia’s insight from The Asia Pacific School on Internet Governance (APSIG) 2023

APSIG is the edition of the capacity-building initiative of the Asia-Pacific School on Internet Governance that also serves as a regional School of Internet Governance working towards raising awareness and capacity building within the Asia Pacific region. APSIG 2023 was held for three days from 27-29 November 2023 at Park Inn by Radisson North EDSA Hotel, Manila, The Philippines. Open Development Cambodia\'s team (ODC) partake in the full event. The APISIG originally started in 2016 intending to equip participants with the knowledge and skills to participate in Internet policy-making by developing a strong foundation in the following: Promote and support Schools on Internet Governance (SIGs) in the Asia-Pacific RegionProvide training services to organizers and speakers at national and local SIGsDay Zero (26 November 2023)The program officially started with an Introduction and icebreakers. On day zero of the event, the fellows get to know each other and learn from one another about the Internet governance that happens in their home country.Day One (27 November 2023)The program focused on the Internet Governance’s history and evolving ecosystem, the Role of International Organizations and NRIs, Internet Technologies and Security Standards, the Flash talk from the Fellow, Bitcoin, Blockchain and Beyond, and IP Go. Back then, all participants were informed on day zero to deliver the flash talk on the topic of Internet governance in their home country. ODC team has delivered a flash talk on the AI-driven learning Revolution In Cambodian Higher Education which is the research paper conducted by Mr. Heng Soklay AI Researcher and lecturer at Cambodia Academy of Digital Technology. On top of that, the ODC team also supported the speaker in explaining IP Go which the ODC team explained the description of the activity and the role of the network operator and the way the Internet works.Day Two (28 November 2023)The program focused on Accessibility and Inclusivity, Digital Economy and Future of Work, Internet shutdowns and International Human Rights Law, Cybersecurity Incidents (Role-play)/ DNS Security activity, Internet Governance, and 7th Generation Warfare.One of many interesting activities was called “Accessibility and Inclusivity” in which the Speaker presented us with the website’s accessibility. She aimed to raise awareness among the website developers to consider elements including audio, voice commands, and other available tools. The speaker also urged web developers to follow WC3 guidelines “Web Content Accessibility Guidelines” and ask people with disability to test their websites to ensure that the content available on their websites is accessible. Following this section, the speaker discusses Applying International Human Rights Law to the Internet Shutdown.In the session of Cybersecurity Incident Role-play, all participants were divided into 3 main teams including the management team, the technical team, and the legal team which were responsible for responding to the public about a case that a hacker leaked an NGO’s data. ODC team played the role of a team leader of the legal team and explained to the fellow the process and what we needed to do in the session and we also discussed the stage that we needed to follow carefully. Those activities made the participants know how to respond to such incidents that would happen in our daily lives.At the end of day two, the ODC team also presented about the Cambodia culture to all participants and presented about ODC’s work and ODC involvement in improving Internet Governance in Cambodia including the Internet governance and ICT programs including Cambodia Youth Internet Governance Forum, Cambodia ICT and Digital Forum, Cambodia ICT Camp.Day Three (29 November 2023)The program began with the section called Emerging Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) priorities:  The next round of new Generic top-level domain (gTLD) and Universal Acceptance, Impact of Internet Fragmentation on Future of the Internet. The APISIG 2023 came to an end with the closing remark by the organizer. All participants provided their feedback to improve the program.  ODC’s staff managed to learn from and build connections with other participants necessary for future cooperation.  After the program ends, it is expected that the ODC team can learn or apply, if possible, any relevant lessons learned from APISIG 2023 to Cambodian youth through an event called “Cambodia Youth Internet Governance Forum 2024 (Cambodia YIGF) which ODC plan to host in Phnom Penh in the upcoming year 2024. The insight from APISIG 2023 also provides additional input for the ODC team to make use of for experience-sharing sessions related to Internet governance. Second, it is an opportunity that ODC ‘s team have build a network and exchange ideas from others with other academic, expert, and other internet governance communities.

Experiencing Internet Governance as a Panelist

Imagine a place where the ancient meets the cutting edge, where culture dances with technology—a place like Kyoto, Japan. Now, picture being part of a global gathering of minds, all driven by a shared passion for shaping the digital world. That\'s precisely where I found myself at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) 2023, and let me tell you, it was nothing short of an exhilarating experience!Being a Youth RepresentativeOne of the most memorable moments in my journey was the opportunity to serve as a panelist for Session #133, titled \"Accelerating an Inclusive Energy Transition.\" This session was a significant part of the broader discussions on Digital Technologies to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals. The session was expertly organized by several key entities, including the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, the NLIGF, Electronic Commerce Platform Netherlands (ECP), and WEOG. As I stepped onto the stage, I carried with me not just the perspectives of Cambodia but also the dynamic ASEAN youth community. It was a moment of immense honor and responsibility to raise the my voice. The session’s mission was clear: to energize our collective efforts toward an energy future that truly leaves no one behind.In my presentation titled \"Unlocking ASEAN\'s Green Energy Future Through Youth,\" I delved into the pivotal role of youth in spearheading green energy transformation in the ASEAN region. I began by emphasizing the critical importance of green energy, not only for environmental sustainability but also for our collective future. I then highlighted the significant challenges that ASEAN faces in transitioning to green energy, including surging energy demands and issues of affordability and accessibility. I also showcased the immense potential for youth to contribute to this development. Through the adoption of green technologies, the creation of green jobs, and the initiation of green initiatives, we can use the successful model of the Cambodia Internet Governance Forum as an example, in which the forum plays a paramount role in driving the transition towards a sustainable and green energy future in ASEAN.Keynote from other significant sessions:My thoughts were not only mine; I did take some aspirations and knowledge from other experts from the other sessions I joined before my panel sessions. I will list three sessions that genuinely inspired me below:\"Transforming Technology Frameworks for the Planet\" IGF 2023 was like a digital oasis, teeming with knowledge and inspiration. This session had me envisioning a tech-powered green utopia. It was a reminder that the digital realm could be a force for planetary good as well if we were to include the environment in the framework-building process.\"High-Level Panel on Artificial Intelligence\"Artificial Intelligence, or AI, wasn\'t just a buzzword—it was the show\'s star! This session was the most inspiring for me as it showed us how AI can be an accelerator in its own right, speeding us towards a greener, more sustainable world. But wait, there are matters that we need to consider here! AI needs a moral compass, and that\'s where governance comes in.\"Without facts, you can\'t have truth, and without truth, you cannot have trust.\"Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa at IGF2023. Three suggestions were raised for approaching generative AI where it can be hijacked easily for emotional influences and often false content: \"Stop surveillance for profit. Stop coded bias against women, LGBTQI, and other minorities and use journalism as an antidote to tyranny.\"\"Youth for Digital Inclusion & Environmental Sustainability\"This session was like a rallying cry for young digital warriors to start taking action. It hammered the message that we, the youth, are not just the future; we are the drivers of change today!Nadia Owusu, Civil Society, African Group representative, emphasized the role of youth in this critical time when we need to accelerate the green digital environment. I take so much inspiration from her work and statements from the session that they shape my panel discussion as well.The Return JourneyLeaving Kyoto was bittersweet, but I carried back more than just memories. I brought back a suitcase filled with inspiration, wisdom, and a heart bursting with a determination to continue endorsing digital rights, environmental sustainability, and youth empowerment.I will use my knowledge to light up our digital world, one pixel at a time. Special ThanksA heartfelt thank you to my admiring team, the Cambodia Youth Internet Governance Forum Organizing Committee, our Board of Advisory Committee, and Open Development Cambodia for making this incredible opportunity possible. Your support and dedication have fueled my journey towards a more inclusive and sustainable digital world.