After one year of operating in a digital space, the Global Internet Policy Observatory (GIPO) Advisory Group will get together in this roundtable meeting to discuss questions relating to GIPO, just before the start of the Pan-European dialogue on Internet governance (EuroDIG). This gathering should lead to a greater understanding of how GIPO can be useful for its (potential) users around the world.

Roundtable on the contribution of GIPO to "multistakeholderism" in internet governance

8 June 2016

9:30-12:30 Roundtable with the Advisory Group of the Global Internet Policy Observatory

12:30-13:30 sandwich lunch offered

The Roundtable will look into three questions:

  • How can GIPO actually advance policy discussions in Internet Governance?

The roundtable will briefly present the dynamics behind the emergent frameworks for multistakeholder processes, specifically addressing how GIPO contributes to the evolution of multistakeholder processes in IG fora. This will enable the participants to examine how GIPO can further evolve to better contribute to policy making at national, regional and global level. How can GIPO help to contribute to better global internet governance?.

  • How can GIPO increase its outreach beyond the usual suspects and other observatory platforms? Can we truly reach the most fragile stakeholders?

There is a plurality of actors working on issues related to GIPO’s main activities, but it is difficult to reach out beyond those individuals who are often already engaged in these debates. Are the actors involved in the processes representative of the community of stakeholders? Are they legitimately selected? How can GIPO help to expand the circle and increase contributions without diluting expertise?

  • How do you create a shared ownership of the GIPO initiative within the IG community?

We intend to examine what output has emerged from the GIPOtool so far and how it relates to other observatory initiatives. How do the actors perceive the tool and frame their role in GIPO? Can further synergies with observatory initiatives be envisaged?

Context

Multistakeholder approaches to policymaking involve bringing together all ‘stakeholders’ in order to legitimise (international) decisions on complex issues. Although there is no specific ‘model’ of this approach (most appear to be organised in pragmatic terms), the various fora where this is used share at least three characteristics:

  1. open engagement, involving interaction between various ‘stakeholder types’ (business, civil society, governments);
  2. loose engagement mechanisms; and
  3. attempts to always seek solutions through consensus.

We are particularly interested in examining the case of internet governance (IG), where –arguably– the term 'multistakeholder' has been most prominently used in recent years. The internet governance case can provide us with a rich source of data for furthering research on the role of multistakeholder groups in decision making, given the wide-ranging nature of debates in multistakeholder fora in the field. Also, internet governance is practiced in different communities, each with their own space for multistakeholder processes. Hence we will be able to see how the process works in different institutional spaces (technical, diplomatic, and social).

One particular example of a policy innovation that attempts to overcome some of the challenges entwined in application of multistakeholderism is the Global Internet Policy Observatory (GIPO). GIPO is an initiative that is being ‘kickstarted’ by the European Commission, with the intention to let the IG community manage this. GIPO provides a tool with which different stakeholders can gain access to a diverse range of information that is publicly available, but placed in a variety of online spaces. It is specifically designed to try to open up IG to people not currently engaged in debates.

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