5 September 2014

Ninth IGF Concludes in Istanbul

The ninth annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) concluded on Friday, 5 September, in Istanbul, Turkey. The five days of wide-ranging Internet governance discussions attracted nearly 2,500 on-site participants, with more than 1,000 more online.

Over the course of the week, the NRO and RIR staff contributed to many of the workshops and main sessions. These sessions looked at topics like the impact of carrier-grade NAT technology on users and policymakers, the IANA oversight transition process, cybersecurity and capacity building.

RIPE NCC Board member Salam Yamout was selected as a representative of the Internet technical community in the closing ceremony, and spoke about the importance of preserving certain fundamental features of the Internet that make it an unfragmented, neutral network providing end-to-end connectivity. The full text of her speech is available below.

A summary of the week’s highlights and key facts is available in the Chair’s Summary IGF 2014. Video recordings of the sessions are also available online.

At the closing ceremony it was announced that the 2015 IGF will be held in Joao Pessoa, Paraiba, Brazil.

IGF 2014 technical community closing speech, by Salam Yamout: 

Ladies & gentlemen,

My name is Salam Yamout and I am speaking today on behalf of the Internet technical community. I would like to thank our hosts, the Turkish Government, and all those, the many stakeholders, who worked hard and contributed to making this ninth Internet Governance Forum a great success.

First, I would like to comment on a term, “multistakeholder”, that you have heard many, many times over the past few days. This concept was identified by the WSIS process, more than a decade ago, as an essential part of the Internet’s success. But even pre-dating this definition, we in the technical community have identified our organisations as open, bottom-up and inclusive.

What does this mean? It means that seven years after my first IGF in Hyderabad, I have the honor to stand in front of you representing the technical community.

This means that after visiting the ISOC booth at the IGF in Sharm El Sheik, a few of us started the ISOC chapter in Lebanon. This means that I, no matter my affiliation, no matter where I came from, I was able to join the technical community, listening, contributing and interacting with new colleagues from all over the world.

But the technical community is part of the larger ecosystem – another term that we have heard many times this week.

This ecosystem is a collection of diverse organisations and individuals, working independently, autonomously, and cooperatively in an environment of permissionless evolution and innovation. I admit it is a complicated mechanism, and it is only by participating that I understood the fundamental functioning of that ecosystem and of the organizations I work within. I admit that it was a shift in culture from the top-down, command and control environment I came from.

In technical terms, the Internet is a single, global network, unfragmented, neutral, providing end-to-end connections. We should not take these fundamentals for granted. The technical community plays an essential role maintaining these features, and these features are vital to preserving the Internet as we know it, not just for the next billion, but for the billions to come.

The discussions this week have touched on some of these issues – fragmentation of the Internet, the consequences of technologies like carrier grade NAT for users and policymakers, and of course, the technical administration of the Internet, including the IANA functions.

We have also heard from so many about the importance of our regional communities and forums. Coming from a region whose Internet community is growing quickly, I see the need for capacity building. . This facilitates our engagement in the various forums where specific regional as well as global issues can be addressed .

These discussions emphasize the important role of the IGF in our Internet ecosystem, a role highlighted in the output of the NETmundial meeting in Brazil earlier this year. They also underline that there will never be a single solution to the challenges of Internet governance, nor a single leader. The Internet itself is constantly evolving, and our governance processes must evolve, adapting and building on past successes.

The transition of the United States government out of its oversight role over the IANA functions is an example of this evolution. We should see this as yet another opportunity to prove that multistakeholderism is more than a buzzword – it is a mature model that works to solve practical challenges.

It’s in that spirit that we in the technical community look forward to working with all stakeholders, in their respective roles, to meet current and future challenges.

We also support an ongoing, continually improving Internet Governance Forum as a vital platform for meeting these challenges.

Sitting on the sidelines or engaging in the solution is your choice. As the famous Lebanese writer, Khalil Gibran, wrote:

“Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life.”

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