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EuroDIG stakeholders acknowledge UNESCO’s Internet Universality Indicators

25 June 2019

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Speakers discussed UNESCO’s Internet Universality indicators at EuroDIG session, The Hague, 20 June 2019.
© UNESCO

On 20 June 2019, UNESCO hosted a panel discussion at the European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG) conference in The Hague, focusing on how its newly-launched Internet Universality ROAM-X Indicators can help assess Internet policies in European countries. Participants largely welcomed the Indicators as an opportunity for stakeholders at various levels.

Why use UNESCO’s Indicators to assess a where a country stands in terms of Internet development? Because they are a unique and comprehensive tool to look at the big picture, from interrelated human rights, openness, inclusivity and quality of access to Internet, to the dimension of multistakeholder participation to Internet governance. They are thus relevant for all stakeholders and countries including in Europe, to assess and improve Internet policies at the national level and to foster digital collaboration at international and regional levels. These are the strong messages that were heard from participating European stakeholders.

“UNESCO indicators  aim to assess how well all national stakeholders including governments, companies and civil society perform in adhering to the ROAM standards and can be considered complementary to other valuable existing tools initiated by the OECD, ITU or Council of Europe (CoE)” underlined Xianhong Hu, UNESCO focal point for the Internet Universality Indicators project. She informed that a number of countries worldwide are currently engaged in the process and encouraged more European countries and stakeholders to consider assessing their national Internet environment using the Indicators.

“Regional and international standard-setting and digital collaboration can also benefit from the UNESCO Internet Universality Indicators” said Ms. Artemiza Chizca representing the Council of Europe. Ms. Chizca reiterated CoE’s commitment to collaborate with UNESCO on the project, and that its Committee of Ministers encourages CoE Member States to combine the assessment of the CoE Internet freedom and UNESCO Internet Universality Indicators.
The potential of the Indicators to inform better policy-making was underlined by Mr. Andreas Salz and Mr. Luiz Fernando Martins Castro. Mr Salz, representing Germany’s national commission to UNESCO, expressed that it had recommended the German government to conduct an assessment; while Mr. Castro, board member of CGI.br, informed that CETIC.br is currently completing the assessment in Brazil.

“ICANN, as an Internet Service Provider, fully supports the Indicators, especially its bottom-up approach, which is in line with ICANN’s goal of achieving a free, open, secure and multistakeholder Internet” stressed Mr. Nigel Hickson. 
Mr. Giacomo Mazzone, representing European Broadcasting Union (EBU), acknowledged the opportunity of content- and media-related indicators for broadcasters and local content production communities, in their efforts to foster quality news and content online.

The ROAM-X framework was also recognized as an advocacy tool to inform citizen debates on Internet issues by Ms. Morgane Fleury, representing Missions Publiques, which partners with UNESCO to channel non-expert citizen opinions in debates and implementation processes of indicators.

Ms. Anja Gengo, the IGF Secretariat’s Focal Point for the National and Regional Initiatives (NRIs) Engagement, expressed its support of national assessments and invited UNESCO to further engage with NRIs communities. 
As the session opened to interventions from the audience, participants from several countries including Bulgaria and Ukraine expressed their interest and discussed the implementation process. Future events will also see clarifications around this process, including the IGF pre-event in Berlin where all ongoing assessments will be showcased.

UNESCO presented the Indicators at EU High Level Group on Internet Governance (HLIG) meeting in The Hague, 21 June 2019. © UNESCO

On June 21 in The Hague, UNESCO also presented the Indicators project at the Multistakeholder open session of EU High Level Group on Internet Governance (HLIG) meeting. Ms. Hu took the opportunity to acknowledge the recent UN Secretary-General High-Level Panel report on digital cooperation, in which UNESCO’s ROAM principles are recognized as a conducive framework for governing Artificial Intelligence and fostering digital cooperation. 

UNESCO welcomes further expressions of interest on the part of stakeholders interested in conducting national assessments of Internet development using the ROAM-X indicators. More information on the project is available on the dedicated webpage.