UNESCO advocates Internet Universality R.O.A.M indicators at IGF 2018

19 November 2018

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Moez Chakchouk, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information during UNESCO’s
Open Forum at the IGF 2018
© Josselyn Guillarmou, UNESCO

“Internet Universality Indicators offer an unprecedented opportunity for all stakeholders to voluntary assess their national Internet development and to defend an Internet based on Rights, that is Open, Accessible and nurtured by Multistakeholder participation,” was the main highlight from UNESCO’s Open Forum held during the Internet Governance Forum on Tuesday, November 13th, 2018.

“UNESCO has been fully committed to develop Internet Universality Indicators over the last two years. This innovative tool results from our extensive engagement with over 2000 experts from all the stakeholders’ communities. We hope the Internet indicators will raise awareness on Internet Universality, map Internet contexts and improve national Internet policies,” said Moez Chakchouk, Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information (UNESCO) while opening the session.

UNESCO’s Open Forum brought in speakers from different regions to reflect on using the Internet Indicators as a tool for measuring an array of digital issues. The aim of using this research instrument is to help to strengthen the national Internet environment and its role in advancing the Sustainable Development Agenda.

David Souter, the lead consultant representing APC (Association for Progressive Communication) consortium commissioned by UNESCO to develop the framework of indicators, provided an overview of the indicators.

“This final version of the framework includes 303 indicators (99 of them marked as core ones) developed under 5 categories, 25 themes, and 124 questions. It covers issues from freedom of expression and privacy to open data, equitable access, Internet governance, gender, children, and trust,” he said.

A panel of four experts shared their experiences of pre-testing and piloting draft Internet Indicators in Senegal, Nigeria, Brazil, and Thailand. These national exercises were undertaken in different contexts, and the lessons were incorporated in the final revision of the Indicators.

Alexandre Barbosa, Head of CETIC.br – a UNESCO Category 2 institute – said: “The piloting exercise was important not only to understand the feasibility of data collection in all dimensions of the ROAM framework, but also to better understand the role and the capacity of different stakeholders in providing access to reliable data sources”.

Pirongrong Ramasoota, Vice-President of Chulalongkorn University and Member of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission in Thailand, and Enrico Calandro from Research ICT Africa, talked about the core indicators for places where there is a lack of available data.

“The proposed Internet indicators are of high policy-relevance. At the Council of Europe, we fully support this initiative, which is complementary to our work. I will present this new tool to our Member States and will invite them to use it,” said Silvia Grundmann, Head of the Media and Internet Division at the Council of Europe.

Albana Shala, Chair of UNESCO's International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) Council, described the engagement of UNESCO’s Member States and others in the process of developing the research tool. “These Internet Indicators will be presented next week to the 39 Member States of the IPDC Council for possible endorsement. I hope that all stakeholders will seize this opportunity.” She noted that the indicators are not meant to rank or compare countries from one another, but rather to improve everyone’s experience online in any given country that wishes to use them.

Given the wide interest of IGF stakeholders in the UNESCO Internet Universality indicators, UNESCO representatives Guy Berger and Xianhong Hu were invited to  present on the initiative at a number of IGF Workshops including:

IGF 2018 WS #324 “The Open, Free Internet” is for EVERY stakeholder

The Internet Universality indicators were also presented by Guy Berger at an IGF side-event, covering media policy in digital age, and titled the Media Development and Internet Governance Symposium 2018.

For more information on the project, please consult UNESCO’s dedicated platform at the following address: https://en.unesco.org/internetuniversality. General enquiries can be issued to UNESCO’s focal points Xianhong Hu (x.hu@unesco.org) and Josselyn Guillarmou (j.guillarmou@unesco.org).