Wednesday, March 12, 2008

APC advocates gender balance in IGF

As members of the Internet community warm up for the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) due to open soon in Hyderabad, the Association of Progressive Communications (APC) has advocated for a balanced gender participation in the affairs of IGF.

The IG forum was initiated in fulfilment of the outcome of the two-phased World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which ended in 2005, in continuation of the stakeholders’ participation in fine-tuning the global policies on Internet Governance.

APC in a public statement made available to Champion Infotel at the weekend, said that though it supports the regionalisation of IGF activities globally, gender balance should be given greater attention in the composition of panels within the forum.

The group gave its support on the need to restructure IGF, emphasising that recycling of the core themes in plenary sessions during the forum required revisiting.

“There is no need to convene a plenary session on each of these themes,” APC stated, adding that they would rather suggest the use of plenary sessions to address cross-cutting areas and emerging issues such as gender balancing, especially in the composition of panels.

Regarding the IGF meeting slated for Hyderabad, APC said it supports the proposals for key themes made by the Swiss delegation, and by the Civil Society Internet Governance (CSIG) caucus.

“We also support the proposal from the International Institute for Sustainable Development that sustainable development be included as a key theme,” a part of the press statement read.

This theme, APC pointed out, cuts across most of the existing themes and complements the proposed focus on development, adding that sustainable development concerns are integral to many core IGF themes.

APC cited an instance that relates to how individual and society deal with the access theme.

“Policy makers as well as implementers are in the position to make choices about what technologies are used to expand infrastructure,” APC said.

These choices, the group explained have long-term implications for the environment, particularly on climate change, thus choices also impacted on the sustainability of the infrastructure itself, wondering if it makes sense to build internet backbone using technology that requires huge amounts of energy in parts of the world where electricity supplies are unstable, limited, and very expensive?

“Sustainable development as it relates to the development and governance of the Internet is a global issue, like climate change. It belongs in the IGF. It is an area of common concern for developing and developed countries as it impacts on everyone, even if in different ways,” the group said, just as APC acknowledged the input of those speakers who feel that the issue is too broad, and outside of the mandate of the IGF.

“We’re convinced that the IGF can find a way of including sustainable development in a focused manner that is consistent with the mandate of the IGF,” APC said.

Further, the group advised that most proposals made at the recent IGF held in Brazil, could help define regional or national priorities and facilitate participation in the IGF process.

“They can be a powerful mechanism for learning, problem solving and collaborative action,” APC submitted.

APC equally recommended that IGF uses the format of the Working Groups to assist in ensuring that the primary IGF themes, cross cutting areas, and suggested topics for main sessions, are addressed as effectively as possible before, during and after a forum as well as in between fora.

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