Report from the concluding session of the conference The Internet as a Global Public Resource (29‒30 April 2015), in which Dr Jovan Kurbalija, DiploFoundation director, and head of the Geneva Internet Platform, summarised the main discussions and described the roadmap for future research.
‘One of the underlying themes [of the conference] was the need to develop a positive agenda, in the sense of providing a fresh breeze. With a heavy focus on a few issues, this could provide a positive agenda to deal with risks and realise opportunities,’ Dr Jovan Kurbalija said during the concluding session of the two-day conference. ‘At the same time, we need not to be on the level of slogans, not to be naïve as regards what is the reality. There are different interests, there are different dynamics, there are different proposals. This was the general context in which we framed the discussion.’
Another discussion centred on the possible elements of the Internet that could be recognised as a global public resource, including standards, and the physical architecture. The discussion turned more complex as we tackled knowledge and information.
In identifying the main players, the conference discussions indicated that governments are the key players in providing global public goods, yet the involvement of the private sector and civil society is also crucial.
The forthcoming research will analyse the different concepts which were discussed specifically in one of the panels, including global public goods, common heritage of mankind, res nullium, and res communis omnium, and also how the various technologies can be used in the context of economic and legal perspectives.
With regard to the timeline, Kurbalija explained that the process will take place over 12 months. DiploFoundation will initiate a process with its partners in order to engage actors from the European Union, Commonwealth institutions, and the private sector, inviting them to provide the necessary expertise, experience, and resources to support the project. A number of activities are planned for the next few months.
The project will make use of an ‘agile management’ approach by ensuring an interplay between policy dialogue and research. It will include discussions with other communities, including a roundtable with the policy community in Geneva, and a roundtable in Brussels in collaboration with the business community which is heavily represented in the city.
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which takes place in November in Malta, will offer the project an opportunity to present preliminary findings during a high-level event, in which we plan to bring leaders of the Internet industry together with the Heads of State convening in Malta.
In early December, the WSIS+10 review will be very important for the Internet: heads of government will meet in New York to decide on the future of global Internet governance, revisit the Tunis Agenda, and decide on the future of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF).
Dr Kurbalija explained that the final research will be presented at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, in January 2016. This will not be the end of project, but the end of its first phase.
More reports from the conference on The Internet as a Global Public Resource are available on the conference webpage.