APrIGF 2019 Update

A brief report by Maureen Hilyard

Hi everyone,

A brief report from me on the recently completed APRIGF at the Far Eastern Federal University on Russky Island in Vladivostok, Russia.

There was just a small representation from the Pacific at the event, but I think we all did well in providing a Pacific perspective in the sessions we attended. James Ahwai from Samoa was new to the IG scene and as an introduction was a panelist in the Opening Plenary on “The State of Play and Outlook for Internet Governance in the Asia Pacific” as well as providing a Pacific perspective in just about every session he attended. Jon Brewer, Anju Mangal and myself, as older hands in the IG world, did the same when the opportunity arose. Anju also moderated the final Plenary on APRIGF Multistakeholder Participation in the Global IGF.

(L-R) James Ahwai, Maureen Hilyard, Anju Mangal

Former PICISOC Chair, Rajnesh Singh did a great job not only as the APRIGF Chair but also as the stand-in moderator on many occasions, such as the Digital Accessibility panel which included Gunela Astbrink who participated remotely.
Some notes from this session:
– everyone will suffer from some form of temporal or permanent disability at some point in their life; particularly as we age, our eyes and ears both will suffer from some form of impairment
– as such this issue is not just about People With Disabilities, but its a matter for everyone; digital technologies can help us, but only if digital accessibility is implemented within those technologies
– awareness and education is key, government can also play a key facilitating and catalysing role by implementing accessibility requirements in their procurement policies
– universal design/accessibility guidelines are available but e.g. coders/developers have told us they lack awareness; once they are introduced to these, they generally are receptive to trying to implement same
– however some also consider that there may be an overhead associated with implementing such guidelines, and this is where market awareness could help i.e. about 15% of the population have some form of impairment
– people in developing countries are usually at a disadvantage when it comes to accessibility issues as government priorities may not factor them in (compared to developed countries with a more robust social welfare policy in place and the money to fund that), so digital technologies can help but again cost becomes a factor
– including universal design principles right at the beginning of product/service development stages will ensure that the end product/service is accessible – rather than trying to retrofit things
(from Rajnesh Singh)

With Naveed Haq and Rajnesh Singh of ISOC

I took a workshop (gratefully also attended by my Pacific colleagues) which was a followup to a session on “eGovernment for Empowering Pacific Citizens” which I took at the APRIGF in Vanuatu last year. This time Cherie Lagakali (attending remotely) provided an excellent overview of Fiji’s new eGov website which our working groups studied to compare it with those of some developed countries.

At the workshop, Anju Mangal also reported on the e-Government Roundtable entitled “The Future of Digital Government for Sustainable Development” which she attended in the Republic of Korea in June with Fellow PICISOC Board member Andrew Molivurae. PICISOC was able to articulate the needs of the Pacific and the many challenges that governments of SIDS and LDCS face. They include: challenges with connectivity and bandwidth, affordability, inadequate legal and regulatory frameworks, shortage of requisite human ICT capacity, failure to use local language and content, lack of entrepreneurship and a business culture that is open to change. With these issues to contend with, particularly small island countries such as those in the Pacific, ‘have not been able to reap the sustainable benefits through ICT and digital development’ [UNPOG Digital Government].

Workshop: eGovernment for Empowering Pacific Citizens

There were 22 workshops at this APRIGF with topics covering:

Day 0: community involvements as an introduction to the Fellows and Next Gen participants

Day 1: Opening Plenary, Big tech, Shutdowns, Internet Security, Universal Acceptance, Digital Talents, Safety for Children online 

Day 2: Accessibility, Governance of Crypto Assets, IOT Security, Digital Identity and Human Rights, Localised Internet, Child Safety Complaints Tools, Youth Participation, Cyber Norms, ICT Laws, Language Diversity, eGovernment

Day 3: Hate speech, AI, IPV6 Deployment, Community Networks, Digital Security, Coping with Misinformation, Lessons Learned from 10 years of Russian IGF, Closing Plenary

Jennifer Chung (APRIGF Secretariat) leads the Synthesis Document discussions

Each day ended with a session spent gathering views from participants on the day’s sessions. The APRIGF Synthesis Document will provide a summary of each of the 6 themes created by these inputs which will provide a summary of important takeaways from this event. I will make it available on our website when it is finalised

Opening Plenary moderated by Leonid Todorov, General Manager of APTLD

Contributing to the success of this event was a great communications team who were on hand in each of the session rooms. The state of the art equipment at the university ensured quality sessions with clear inputs by every participant (both remotely and in the room). Real time transcription as well as multiple screens, were also available. The sort of thing we can only wish for in the Pacific. But it certainly raised the benchmark for ensuring that we had a great conference. Many thanks to Mikhail, Leonid and the Russian APRIGF Team.

The APrIGF Gala Dinner and entertainment.

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