Is the youth factor counting in Internet Governance? and Is Internet Governance affecting the youth?
In the last session of the IGF’s first phase (five year mandate), it emerged that the youth are a stakeholder group that has not been as actively involved as they should have in the process. Yet there has been some active participation from a small group of young people.
This workshop will raise and try to answer the following questions:
1. Has the IGF had any impact on the youth? Are young people affected by these discussions in the same way as adults?
2. The growth of the Internet is spurred by innovation; Youth are the key drivers in this scene, what policies should be in place so as not to hinder the Internet as a key tool for economic development in any government?
3. Are the youth part of any IG policy creation? Should they be? What has hindered youth in IG policy processes and what can be done to improve the situation?
4. During its first five year mandate, the IGF secretariat and other organisations conducted various capacity building program that targeted youth from developing countries. What impact did the program have on developing nations and what lessons did we learn that could improve the program in the next five year mandate?
To answer these questions, we shall be aided by panelists drawn from different sectors and of various ages, elaborating on their experiences and a lively discussion/ Q&A ,from the audience, that will come up with recommendations on the importance of the Youth engagement at the IGF, beginning from the National level to the Global level.
* The term youth is an expansive term and includes children, teenagers and young adults. Youth do not exist by themselves but are part of a society and in fact most of the problems they face during the IGF are also shared by many adults who are “beginners” in the IGF processes. The idea that adults know more is changing.
* While emphasizing the need for meaningful participation, the youth need to enhance their participation in the IGF processes because these processes are open. To this end, the youth need to take advantage of all the available avenues for participation e.g. e-participation.
* The current IGF set-up presents some hurdles to young people who wish to participate or get involved. Some of these include inhibitive costs of travelling to the IGF, understanding the “IGF lingo”, fear of making contributions and lack of young participating at organisational levels. There were suggestions for structural adjustments to the IGF to give youth affirmative representation.
* For youth participation to be meaningful, there is need to have more capacity building and support for youth people to participate. It was noted that civil society and academia sub-sectors have had many initiatives towards training and sponsoring youth to attend IGF and related events. The youth invited others such as private sector and Governments to increase their efforts at mentoring, educating and supporting them in IG.
* Participants agreed that the youth are affecting IGF because the few who participate are affecting even older people. In addition, some have activities throughout the year and not just at the IGF.
Conclusions and further comments:
1. Youth are going to be affected by discussions and decisions made on IG today and so their voices must be heard. The youth need to actively participate in the IGF processes through available avenues including e-participation which eliminates the need for travel and have no age limitation for contribution.
2. Youth participation in the IGF should not be limited to youth workshops. It is important for young people to give their input in important topics such as privacy, innovation, critical Internet resources etc. The youth were challenged to ensure that they contribute as panellists etc in discussion and workshops on these and other issues.
3. Where adults speak on behalf of youth organisations, they have a duty to actually represent the voice of the youth. This is because youth, who were born in the Internet age have a different perspectives or views of things and this diversity can contribute in shaping the IGF discussions and culture.
4. Youth participation needs to be sustainable. The young people who have had the priviledge of participating in the IGF and IG processes actually have a duty to create awareness, mentor others to make sure that there is not only smooth transition but also to keep the youth constituency growing and vibrant.
5. The youth, especially children, must continue being passionate about the IGF despite their other commitments such as having to attend school.
6. Youth coalitions were challenged to have more structured dialogue in order to channel youth voices more appropriately.
7. Youth should take advantage of adults at the IGF as most of them are willing to explain the IGF jargon. They should not shy away from learning.
8. Young people should be proactive and use means such as social networks and other available media to among others to create awareness, generate interest and dialogue and to ensure that discussions at the IGF were being heard and shared by other youth.
9. Young people were invited to visit Diplo Foundation and other booths to learn more about their available programmes and opportunities especially in regard to capacity building.
10. The IGF can do more and present the information on its website in amore user-friendly manner.
11. The deliberations of the workshop would be forwarded to the Youth Dynamic Coalition for presentation at the taking stock session.