The first working meeting of the NETmundial Initiative (NMI) took place on March 31st at Stanford University in Palo Alto/California and served to discuss the Initiative’s organization, role and activities. I was honored to attend it as the European private sector representative in this cross-regional group consisting of 23 global stakeholders from civil society, government, the private sector, technical and academic community, and international entities and governments.
My take-away: It was a good start for the Initiative´s work, especially because the diversity of backgrounds, views and interests represented had an enriching effect on the group. The conversation was open, frank, and focused on coming to consensus rather than stating differences.
This positive tone and collaborative mindset of the group impressed me. It reminded me very much of the spirit of the NMI conference which was hold last year in Sao Paulo/ Brazil, and where despite all different views all participants showed respect and a great will to achieve a consensus: The Sao Paulo Multistakeholder Statement (for more information see our Post here). If this diversity of views, open and collaborative spirit is reflected in how the Initiative carries out its future activities, this could very well prove to be the key to its success.
One of the main questions by stakeholders about NMI has been: What will it do and focus on?
The meeting in Palo Alto found an answer. We agreed a proposal of Terms of Reference (ToR), which is now open for comments to all interested stakeholders and communities until May 1st 2015 on the online platform of the NMI. The final Communique defines it briefly like this: “NMI should be a platform for practical cooperation between all stakeholders in order to address Internet issues and advance the implementation of the NETmundial Principles.”
I believe this is a clearly defined and very important activity: The current global Internet governance environment can profit from a platform that enables stakeholders in an open, transparent and collaborative manner to coordinate, define and finally carry out activities and projects that provide solutions for issues. All of them are identified at existing fora and especially the Internet Governance Forum. By doing this, the Initiative will help strengthening the existing Internet Governance ecosystem and make it more accessible and easier to navigate for stakeholders, governments and any interested institution.
During the meeting, we had also the chance to preview and get first-hand information on some of the various project proposals, which had been already submitted through the NMI webpage by the community: A prototype for a NETmundial Solutions Map, the Internet & Jurisdiction Project, and the Deliberative Poll on Internet Governance. I will here not go into details on these projects but thought that especially the NETmundial Solutions Map prototype showed in a very practical way how collaboration and information sharing around Internet Governance issues can greatly be improved by crowd sourced, community effort. Such practical solution could help greatly in improving the transparency, accessibility and finally acceptance by all for multistakeholder-governed Internet Governance processes.
All related information on the meeting has been made available online, guided by the conviction of the Coordination Council of NMI to be fully transparent: the meeting was streamed live, the slide deck and chat transcript of the meeting can be downloaded and its video recording is already online (part 1 and part 2). Also, the NETmundial Initiative draft Terms of Reference can be accessed in English, Spanish and five additional languages.
The members of the Coordination Council in its first meeting send a strong signal to their communities: We want to make NMI an open, inclusive and collaborative platform, which fosters multistakeholder, collaborative Internet Governance. Anyone who is interested is welcome to participate and share his or her views by visiting www.netmundial.org.
So, make your voice heard and get engaged!