Building Bridges to Online Multilingualism

24 October 2013 - A Workshop on Enhanced Cooperation in Bali, Indonesia

Internet Governance Forum 2013

Workshop # 88 Report

Building Bridges to Online Multilingualism

Organizer Name 

Seppia Giovanni

Organizer Entity 


Workshop Theme 

Enhanced Cooperation

Consise description 


Adopting the theme “Building Bridges”, the EURid-UNESCO workshop will discuss how online multilingualism can improve lives, including of those in remote communities, by applying multilingual policies at both global and local level. Broad multi-stakeholder cooperation is required to encourage sustainable development through proper economic, socio-cultural, technological and political growth. Stronger cooperation between key Internet stakeholders is essential for expanding online multilingualism.
Following the EURid-UNESCO report "IDNs, State of Play"(2011), and the 2012 World Report on IDN Deployment, the IDN World Report 2013 presents new evidence from an even broader selection of TLDs. Country case studies offer analysis of how IDNs are being used, including the IDN ccTLDs in China and South-East Asia. The workshop will explore how language barriers impact access to the Internet, and identify obstacles to greater uptake of IDNs.



Introduction by Giovanni Seppia - The World Report on IDN Deployment, Emily Taylor - Challenges to the expansion of online multilingualism, Janis Karklins - Multilingualism at the top level, Pat Kane - The .kr and .cn IDN TLD case studies, Hongbin Zhu and Minjung Park - IDNs and the World Wide Web multilingual content, Marco Pancini Open debate and questions and answers from the floor and remote participants


Giovanni Seppia

Remote Moderator 

Cedric Wachholz

Have you organized workshops at previous IGFs?


Workshop format 


Workshop Transcript 


Brief substantive summary of the workshop and presentation of the main issues that were raised during the discussions 


Adopting the theme “Building Bridges”, the EURid-UNESCO workshop discussed how online multilingualism can improve lives, including of those in remote communities, by applying multilingual policies at both global and local level.

The workshop introduced the World Report 2013 on Internationalised Domain Names (IDN) deployment. The research shows very strong links between local language content, the country of hosting and IDN scripts.

IDNs are a truly enabler of local language content and their further development can bridge the gaps with those communities that are not yet adequately represented online.

Of over 250 million domain names registered in the world today, only 2% are IDNs.

Using IDNs is not yet a satisfactory experience. Both the World Report and the discussion during the workshop underlined that there is much progress to be made particularly for IDNs on mobile devices, in email (including Google's gmail) and in applications such as social networks. The presentation given by CNNIC was very valuable to highlight that a coordination of efforts to promote and support IDNs and multilingualism can have very positive effects on the Internet penetration in certain countries.


Conclusions drawn from the workshop and further comments 


In the next 12 months, we will see the deployment of perhaps 100 new IDN gTLDs.  60% are in Chinese script.  This expansion of the namespace may provide the motivation for vendors to improve support for IDNs. Certainly there have been signs of improvement – when we first began studying IDNs, support in desktop browsers was poor.  The latest versions of all the major browsers now support IDNs well.

The main conclusions of the workshop are the following:

  1. - All the key DNS players - mainly registries and registrars who are crucial in the domain name chain - should work together and with the application providers to further promote the IDNs and therefore, support online multilingualism. The CNNIC and KISA works are excellent examples.
  2. - The forthcoming launch of new IDN gTLDs will show if IDNs will be relevant for Internet users in the next 5-10 year.
  3. - Educational activities will continue to be of paramount importance to market IDNs especially at the end user level.


Reported by 

Giovanni Seppia

Estimate the overall number of women participants present at the session 

About half of the participants were women

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

Discussion affecting gender equality and women's empowerment 


Workshops Staticals 
Number of FEMALE participantsNumber of MALE participantsNumber of Young participantsNumber of Developing Countries ParticipantsNumber of Developed Countries ParticipantsNumber of LDCs participantsNumber of TOTAL Participants
4 13 0 11 6 0 17