Can Internet governance change global futures? Or will global futures change Internet governance? Using scenarios to map the relationship between Internet Governance and other global challenges.

3 December 2008 - A Workshop on Diversity in Hyderabad, India


Agenda of the Meeting

This workshop will explore what happens when you specifically consider the implications of key Internet governance debates such as management of the critical Internet resources (e.g., domain name system, IPv6), countering spam, multilingualism, and cyber-security within global scenarios for progress towards, or away from, a sustainable future. The objective of achieving sustainable development is sometimes considered synonymous with solving the challenge of climate change, given the current profile of that issue. However there are number of other global challenges resulting from imbalances between economic growth, the environment and objectives of social cohesion in which the Internet is playing an increasingly critical role; including, among others, global governance, security and resource management. This bigger picture perspective is critical for considering the full impact of the evolution of the Internet, and achieving clarity on the potential roles and responsibilities of Internet governance decision makers.

Scenarios are narrative descriptions of potential futures used as a policy development tool for decades by private sector, government, intergovernmental and civil society organizations to discover linkages between policy options and outcomes about which they should be concerned. The Great Transition Initiative, the United Nations Environment Programme’s Global Environment Outlook, and Shell’s energy scenarios are a few notable examples, however their development has not benefited from an in-depth consideration of the role Internet governance mechanisms will play in the evolution and use the Internet, and its consequent impact on globalization. We believe that changes in Internet technologies and management processes may have significant impacts on larger global challenges and aspirations; this workshop will therefore explore and promote the critical relevance of Internet governance to the international community.

A set of existing global scenarios will be recast in preparation for this workshop with the assistance of global scenario, Internet governance, and sustainable development experts; and the support of the workshop’s multistakeholder partnership of organizers. At the workshop the organizers will present a summary of the revised global scenarios developed by this project. The participating panellists will be invited to discuss and debate how consideration of the different scenarios inform how Internet governance concerns might evolve as well as how Internet governance could contribute to achieving global sustainable development.

This work is part of a larger project by IISD and its partners, to review the full range of Internet and ICT diffusion issues and how they influence trajectories of global progress; and; conversely; how global trends might impact decision making around the evolution of the Internet.

Given the increasing importance of the Internet to economic development, approaches to Internet governance issues are likely to be influenced by positions taken by key stakeholders on other economic development and resource management issues. Insight into how emerging global challenges might evolve and stakeholder responses to them are therefore critical for anticipating future Internet governance challenges.

The Internet is transforming economic and social institutions globally as it increasingly underpins key processes; profoundly impacting globalization trends and geopolitical shifts in power as a result.

“The creativity, innovation, and flow of information”[1] facilitated by the Internet is also considered critical to the success of efforts to guide globalization towards a sustainable trajectory.

Decision makers engaging with Internet governance issues are therefore key actors in global sustainability through the role they play shaping the evolution and utility of the Internet. By demonstrating the relevance and impact of the evolution of the Internet on the many challenges decision makers seek to address in broader international debates, the IGF would help to strengthen Internet governance mechanisms and garner broader support, “adding to their legitimacy to the international community.”[2]

[1] ICANN’s Core Values,

[2] Chairman's summary of the Second Meeting of the IGF, Rio de Janeiro, 12 - 15 November 2007,



  • Heather Creech, IISD
  • Anriette Esterhuysen, APC. 

A summary of the revised global scenarios being developed by this project will be presented by:

  • Philip J. Vergragt Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Technology Assessment, Senior Associate, Tellus Institute. 

The panellists we have identified to discuss and debate how consideration of the different scenarios inform how Internet governance concerns might evolve as well as how Internet governance could contribute to achieving global sustainable development are as follows:

  • Ms Maria Tiura, Chair for the Committee for the Future of the Finnish Parliament, or Vice Chair Mr Jyrki Kasvi (confirmed)
  • Sangeeta Gupta, Director, Information Technology and Services Division, TERI (confirmed)
  • Don MacLean, Senior Associate, IISD (confirmed)


  • The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is a non-profit, non-governmental research institute, in the business of promoting change towards sustainable development. .IISD advances policy recommendations and works on collaborative projects with global partners in the areas of global governance, international trade and investment, information and communications technologies, climate change and energy, measurement and assessment, and natural resources management.
  • Tellus Institute is a not-for-profit research and policy organization whose core mission is to advance the transition to a sustainable, equitable, and humane global civilization. Since its formation in 1976, Tellus has been an international leader in assessing critical environment and development issues. In 1995 Tellus and the Stockholm Environment Institute convened the Global Scenario Group (GSG) to examine the requirements for a sustainable and desirable future. Numerous international, regional, and national vision studies have relied on GSG’s comprehensive and detailed scenarios, such as the United Nations Environment Programme’s Global Environmental Outlook series. Tellus currently hosts the Great Transition Initiative (GTI), a successor to the GSG. 
  • The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) is a global network of civil society organisations whose mission is to empower and support organisations, social movements and individuals in and through the use of information and communication technologies to build strategic communities and initiatives for the purpose of making meaningful contributions to equitable human development, social justice, participatory political processes and environmental sustainability. 
  • Canada's Ministry of Industry (Industry Canada) is the Canadian government lead for the Internet Governance Forum and is responsible for Canada's participation in the Governmental Advisory Committee at ICANN. In Industry Canada's view, the scenarios work proposed by the IISD in relation to naming and addressing of the Internet and sustainable development is of particular relevance to the IGF. Industry Canada has agreed to be an organiser of the workshop as the expected scenario outcomes will provide an interesting contribution to the policy discussions at the IGF, in support of capacity-building and development. 
  • Committee for the Future of the Finnish Parliament conducts research associated with futures studies, including their methodology, and when requested to do so, makes submissions to other committees on futures-related matters. The Committee also functions as a parliamentary body that conducts assessments of technological development and the effects on society of technology. 
  • The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) is a non-profit, scientific and policy research organization, working in India and globally in the fields of energy, environment and a whole range of sustainable development issues. 
  • Fujitsu will contribute a private sector perspective to the workshop through review and comment on the emerging scenarios. 
  • This workshop also has the endorsement of ISOC.