The 6th IGF starts at the UN Compound in Nairobi; lovely surroundings with a relaxed atmosphere. Even strict security checks are not as annoying as in other places. It is fascinating how the same rules (UN security) are localised worldwide. With a few smiles and easy communication, life is easier, even when it comes to security matters.
At the event itself, the IGF crowd is going through its annual ritual. Some patterns have been established with GigaNet and APC pre-events. One innovation is the High Level Ministerial segment. One experienced IGF-er passed the comment that even after six years, we have not managed to put different IGFs ‘in the same room’ . While ministers had a ‘blue sky event’ with speeches on broadband and major achievements, the sky didn’t look quite as blue in conference room next door where civil society and academia warned us about growing risks for the Internet. How can they communicate? Can we harness this diversity of views and ideas?
The Nairobi IGF is an IGF in transition. It will pose more questions than provide answers. Sometimes, the key is to ask the right questions. However, it is important that we make a start on providing some answers when it comes to IGF itself. Can it fill the widening gap in global Internet governance? How can the IGF adjust to fast changes in global policy? What needs to be changed and what should remain as it is?
Even a quick glimpse of the IGF agenda shows that this will be the main theme: Improving the IGF: How can we get the most out of IGF Improvement Processes? Enhanced Intra-Stakeholder Diversity and Intra-stakeholder Balance in Multi-Stakeholder Internet Governance, Mapping Internet Governance, IGF Improvements, Internet Governance Principles: Initiatives Toward the Improvement of a Global Internet Governance, Reflection on the Indian Proposal Towards an IGF 2.0, e-Participation Principles, e-Participation Principles