(No.81) Internet Governance and Sustainable Development: The Case of Small Island Developing States

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Workshop Theme: 
Internet Governance for Development [IG4D]
Theme Question: 

Internet Governance for Development
IG4D Thematic Cluster 2 "Enabling Environment"

Question 1: What does it take to attract investment in infrastructure and encourage innovation and growth of ICT services, including mobile technology and how can these technologies best be employed to address development challenges?

Question 2: What does it take in terms of IG policy, legal and regulatory approaches? What are the challenges to and opportunities for participation of stakeholders from developing countries with a special focus on increasing participation by youth and women participation in IG from Least Developed Countries?

IG4D Thematic Cluster 3 - "Infrastructure"

Question 1: What are the key concerns regarding Internet infrastructure from developing countries' experiences and how can new technologies and the Global Internet Governance mechanisms address limitations, offer opportunities and enable development?

Concise Description of Workshop: 

The United Nations Office of the High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS; www.un.org/special-rep/ohrlls/sid/list.htm) states that Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are numerically significant being presently comprised of fifty-two (52) Nation States.
Currently, SIDS can be found in roughly in three regions: - the Atlantic, Indian Ocean and South China Sea (AIMS) Region (comprising 8 Nation States); - the Caribbean Region (comprising 16 Nation States); and - the Pacific Region (comprising 14 Nation States). Such numbers do not include those SIDS which are not UN-member States, but though not counted these island states are nonetheless recognised by the UN-OHRLLS as SIDS.
The Barbados Programme of Action (BPOA; adopted in 1994) which was further complemented by the Mauritius Strategy of Implementation (MSI 2005 and MSI+5 Outcome document), both recognised that despite being afflicted by economic difficulties and confronted by development imperatives consistent to developing countries generally; SIDS have their own peculiar vulnerabilities and characteristics. Such difficulties in the pursuit of sustainable development are particularly unique, severe and complex.
The following serves as an identification of some of the critical issues for SIDS:

  • Small size - There are many disadvantages that derive from small size, including a narrow range of resources, which forces undue specialisation; excessive dependence on international trade causing vulnerability to global developments; high population density, which increases the pressure on already limited resources; over-use of resources and premature depletion; relatively small watersheds and threatened supplies of fresh water; costly public administration and infrastructure, including transportation and communication; and limited institutional capacities, domestic markets and export volumes leading to non-existent economies of scale.
  • Isolation – Due to their geographic dispersion, isolation from markets and remote locations many SIDS are disadvantaged economically by small economies of scale, high freight costs and reduced competitiveness.
  • Climate change and sea-level rise – Due to the coastal zone concentration in a limited land area, the adverse effects of climate change and sea-level rise present significant risks to the sustainable development of SIDS, and the long-term effects of climate change may threaten the very existence and viability of some SIDS.
  • Natural and environmental disasters – SIDS are located among the most vulnerable regions in the world in relation to the intensity and frequency of natural and environmental disasters and their increasing impact, and face disproportionately high economic, social and environmental consequences.
  • Brain drain - Owing to their small size there are not sufficient jobs for specialised fields nor can local industry compete with international multinational corporations for talented workers therefore many educated citizens leave SIDS to seek out job opportunities and enhanced financial gain in developed countries.
  • Reliance on Agriculture, Fishing and Tourism- generally owing to their common colonial past the majority of SIDS rely on Agriculture, Fishing and Tourism for income. These sectors have been particularly hit by climate change, natural disasters and the Global Economic Downturn, making SIDS in dire need of diversification of their economies and retraining of unskilled workers to ensure sustainability.

These critical issues accentuate other challenges facing developing countries in general, for instance, difficulties in benefiting from trade liberalisation and globalisation; heavy dependence on welfare and external funding which can be easily impacted by global economic decline; energy dependence and access issue; the limited freshwater resources; limited land resulting in land degradation, which affects waste management, and vulnerable biodiversity resources. (Source: http://sidsnet.org)
Indeed, issues relating to and resulting from the marginalisation of SIDS from the international Internet Governance (IG) debate are increasingly becoming critical as the Internet Governance (IG) agenda and discussions evolve and move rapidly forward to conclusions. Being so widely dispersed and twinned in regions with larger, more developed neighbouring countries means that such discussions pass without the meaningful input of the 52 SIDS.
This is due in part by lack of capacity and in part by their minority voice in the regions identified. On the path to the June 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20) and leading to WSIS +10, a comprehensive SIDS position on Internet Governance issues is required, at all levels including Governmental/Public Sector, Academia, Private Sector and Civil Society.
This Workshop attempts, for the first time, to co-ordinate the SIDS IG Agenda and to address the potential impact of IG issues on human, social and economic development within the SIDS.
The Workshop will take the form of an interactive session with representative Workshop Panelists from the SIDS regions as well as stakeholder organisations and will seek to address the following at a minimum:

  1. Access & Diversity in SIDS
  2. Critical ICT Infrastructure and Internet Resource Issues in SIDS
  3. How ICT can assist with the challenges and opportunities brought about by Emerging Issues in SIDS
  4. Specific IG Issues relevant to SIDS and evaluation of Commonality of such IG issues amongst SIDS
  5. Evaluation of the commonality and need for Capacity Development in the areas of Security, Openness and Privacy among SIDS
  6. Development of an Action Plan and Research Agenda for moving forward

IMPORTANT UPDATE: See an updated Caribbean Internet Governance Framework dated August 2012 located here.

Organiser(s) Name: 

Mr. Tracy Hackshaw -- Internet Society Trinidad & Tobago Chapter -- Academic/Technical Community -- Caribbean

Previous Workshop(s): 


Submitted Workshop Panelists: 

Ms. Maureen Hilyard -- (Cook Islands) -- Chair, Pacific Islands Chapter of the Internet Society -- Pacific -- (Invited, Confirmed/Accepted) - Remote Panelist
Ms. Salanieta Tamanikaiwaimaro -- (Fiji) -- Director at Pasifika Nexus Limited, Current Chair of Fiji Cyber Security Working Group,Co-Coordinator Civil Society Internet Governance Caucus, Asian, Australasian and Pacific Islands Regional At-Large Organization (APRALO) Representative to At Large Advisory- Committee (ALAC), ICANN -- Pacific -- (Invited. Confirmed/Accepted)
Mr. Karim Attoumani Mohamed -- (Comoros) Comoros representative on the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) of ICANN Ingénieur Télécoms en Transmission, Réseaux et Commutation Chef du Département Études et Projets, Autorité Nationale de Régulation des TIC (ANRTIC) - Union des Comores -- Africa -- (Invited. Confirmed/Accepted)
Mr. Sebastian Bellagamba -- Regional Director, Internet Society Latin American and Caribbean -- LAC -- (Invited. Confirmed/Accepted)
Mr. Bevil Wooding -- (Trinidad & Tobago) Internet Strategist (Caribbean), Packet Clearing House -- Caribbean -- (Invited. Confirmed/Accepted)
Mr. Duksh Kumar Koonjoobeeharry -- (Mauritius) Fellow/Emerging Leader, DiploFoundation @CP Capacity Building Programme in Internet Governance and ICT Policy -- Africa -- (Invited. Confirmed/Accepted) - Remote Panelist
Mr. Carlton Samuels -- (Jamaica) Adjunct, University of the West Indies (Mona) -- Caribbean (Invited. Confirmed/Accepted).
Mr. Tracy Hackshaw (Moderator) -- Internet Society Trinidad & Tobago Chapter -- Academic/Technical Community -- Caribbean

Name of Remote Moderator(s): 
Ms. Cintra Sooknanan, Chair, Internet Society Trinidad & Tobago Chapter/Internet Society IGF Ambassador
Gender Report Card
Please estimate the overall number of women participants present at the session: 
There were very few women participants
To what extent did the session discuss gender equality and/or women's empowerment?: 
It was not seen as related to the session theme and was not raised
Reported by: 
Tracy Hackshaw
A brief substantive summary and the main issues that were raised: 

The Workshop was held under challenging circumstances, given that three (3) of our scheduled Panelists (2 from the Pacific Islands and 1 from Mauritius) were unable to secure funding, and now therefore intended to participate as Remote Panelists.
Notwithstanding these challenges, a late start due to problems with the remote setup, and an Internet outage of approximately 10-15 mins, we were able to effectively execute a reasonably successful Workshop, which fed into the Main Session.
Bevil Wooding (Trinidad & Tobago) (having to step in out of planned order of speaking while the in-room Remote link was being troubleshooted) kicked the session off with a provocative discussion on how Small Island Developing States, such as those in the Caribbean grapple with First World issues such as Local Content, Internet Policy et al. Mr. Wooding noted that small states face peculiar challenges, but they also hold tremendous opportunities for demonstrating the transformative power of the Internet at a national level. In the Caribbean model, he sought to highlight the key areas which the states in the region need to overcome in order to better participate in the Internet Governance conversation: 

(1) Ignorance (2) Environmental Resistance (3) Disconnect (4) Infrastructure (5) Local Content Challenges


Further details of Mr. Wooding's presentation are available at https://docs.google.com/open?id=0BzqpE890O2UobzhpUjJoMk56S2c
Maureen Hilyard (Cook Islands), Chair of PICISOC, joined the Panel remotely, and provided a comprehensive stage setting presentation re: the issues and challenges facing Small Island States, and the Pacific Islands in particular. Among the issues addressed:



• Access must extend to all population groups, including those with disabilities

• The public and private sectors need to work more collaboratively to deal with digital divide issues

• The Church is a significant stakeholder group in the region, an untapped resource




• Need for links between global, regional and national strategies – including local perspectives, knowledge and values

• Capacity building must allow Pacific states to devise and implement their own policy frameworks

• Linguistic challenge – encouraging the use of indigenous languages in the writing of policy






• Citizen journalism


• Digital observatories


• Dealing with e-waste in the region


• Concerns with keeping users and infrastructure safe


• Ensuring that the internet is accessible in Pacific lanuages

Further details of Ms. Hilyard's presentation are available at https://docs.google.com/open?id=0BzqpE890O2UobmQxRWlDVjNHRms
Duksh Koonjoobeeharry (Mauritius), from AfriNIC provided a vast amount of information relating to Mauritius and the challenges faced therein. Many, if not most of these issues and challenges were seen to be very similar across the Pacific and Caribbean SIDS. 
Carlton Samuels (Jamaica), from the University of the West Indies, attempted to tie the points raised by the three SIDS regions (Africa, Caribbean and Pacific), by seeking commonalities, while respecting the differences therein.
Rapporteur, Anju Mangal (Fiji) from the Secretariat of Pacific Community and PICISOC provided the following summative points based on the Panelists' presentations, feedback from the Floor and remotely and the ebb and flow of the discussions therein:

  • Small Island Developing States (SIDS) face peculiar challenges, but they also hold tremendous opportunities for demonstrating the transformative power of the Internet at a national level, regional and international level.
  • The workshop on Internet Governance and Sustainable Development “The Case of Small Island Developing States” addressed issues and challenges that are faced by the Caribbean, Pacific and (some of) the African regions.
  • There’s still insufficient appreciation of fundamental principles and tenets of the Internet and there’s limited coverage in assessing some critical issues in relation to access, privacy, content development etc.
  • Overcoming infrastructure challenges is a key issue. There are still limited technical resources and we need to decide now how to overcome these challenges that deter the regions from equal (or at least equitable) access to connectivity.
  • Identifying hot topics like climate change issues in SIDS is a BIG CONCERN and it’s a priority now.
  • From the climate change perspective, there is a need to find concrete and immediate adaptation solutions on climate change. This can be done through the use of ICT and the Internet but the question still remains, “Who is going to help the small island developing states?” As an example, the Pacific Island nation of Kiribati is in the process of purchasing land in the Fiji Islands to help secure a future for its people who are threatened by rising sea level. Small islands like Kiribati have flat coral atolls which are already disappearing beneath the waves. So how can these people be part of the multistakeholder process if the countries have no other solution but to relocate their people? For these countries, their only hope is to have access to traditional media such as radio programs and television programs that provide them up to date news on their current situation. Having said this, there’s still some hope. Some ICT initiatives are now applied for implementing strategies and policies to combat this issue by sharing climate change information between countries and regional organizations on the climate change issues. The Internet provides a new revolution and allows people to consider earth’s climate crisis by staying informed. But for this, many of these SIDS need to first actually have decent and affordable Internet connectivity.


Conclusions and further comments: 


  1. Working together collectively and collaboratively may be an appropriate approach for SIDS to consider. It is still possible to retain a uniquely regional perspective when developing a research framework, or even perhaps an overall solution set for the challenges ... the critical aspect remains working together as a team with equal voices.
  2. New laws are already coming into place in relation to data and privacy laws and these are enablers of information societies. The time is therefore NOW to consider new opportunities. It is important therefore for the SIDS to stand up and make a statement to address some of the issues ... but the question remains “How can the SIDS address these issues?
  3. It is important to note that there are existing resources within the Internet Governance Forum to provide these opportunities for our region. One option could be for the SIDS to collectively lobby for SIDS-wide developmental funding and investment which will greatly assist SIDS-wide projects and initiatives that might not otherwise be possible, or indeed feasible within each national context.
  4. The SIDS have begun raising the volume of their voices and have obtained a seat at the table. The only logical next step will be to work together collaboratively and collectively to address BOTH our common and differential IG-related challenges.