For access to the Internet to make a meaningful contribution to improving people’s lives locally, for strengthening national economies, and more broadly to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it has to be approached holistically. While access to infrastructure is critical, without this access being inclusive, useful, sustainable and affordable, and linked to human capacity development and relevant content that can make it so, it will not achieve its positive potential.
Availability of free content and services in local languages offering appropriate services and materials tailor-made on the basis of the needs of local citizens (treated not only as consumers or users, but as informed citizens in their own right) is as important as providing accessible connection. The concept of meaningful access or connectivity has emerged over the last five years in response to the growing body of evidence that even when people have connectivity, they often do not make use of the Internet.
Policy Network on Meaningful Access (PNMA)
The PNMA would provide in-depth look at why achieving meaningful and universal Internet access remains so challenging, in spite of years of efforts by policy makers and other actors from all stakeholder groups. It will assess and gather good practices and policy recommendations already discussed at the IGF; identify what the key barriers are to these not being implemented and facilitate networking among actors from all stakeholder groups that are concerned with the topic. It will further provide linkages between the existing efforts and the many stakeholders in the IGF who are undertaking related efforts, as well as create opportunities for the voices of those who are affected by the lack of meaningful access to be part of policy debate and development.
The PNMA will be a gathering point for all those interested to contribute to the matter with their expertise and experience. With advice from dedicated co-facilitators of the IGF Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG), it will also work closely with the existing networks of the IGF, such as the Dynamic Coalitions, Best Practice Forums, National Regional, Sub-Regional and Youth IGF initiatives, as well as all other stakeholders, including the session organisers and IGF annual meeting participants. Stakeholders that are not traditionally involved in the IGF process and have an interest in this topic are particularly encouraged to actively participate. The PNMA will have close linkages with the IGF 2021 high-level and parliamentary tracks.
The PNMA's work would be facilitated by a dedicated multistakeholder working group of experts. Its membership would include leading intergovernmental and international organisations, UN member states, parliaments, research academic institutions, leading private sector companies and representatives of technical communities, national, regional and youth IGFs (NRIs) and other stakeholders whose work is relevant for the PNMA.
Open Mailing List
The process for gathering inputs would be bottom-up, open and continuous throughout the IGF 2021 preparatory process. Inputs would be gathered through the resources of the working group in addition to a community’s input. All working group meetings would be open to the community for a broader discussion. The community will be able to communicate inputs through different outreach forms, ranging from surveys, monthly webinars and online meetings, bilateral meetings etc.