e-Participation Principles DiploFoundation

29 September 2011 - A Workshop on Access in Nairobi, Kenya


The workshop will consist of a roundtable discussion, in order to ensure maximum interaction among participants. The issues will be framed as questions, in order to foster a more focused debate and to reach more concrete outcomes.
Building up on the positive experience of remote participation during IGF meetings, the workshop will explore two main topics:
a) The ways to strengthen online interaction among the members of the IGF community, in order to generate a continuous all-year debate, as proposed during the discussions that took place in CSTD WG on IGF improvement;
b) A strategy to raise awareness and foster the use of online channels for participation in other global meetings, with focus on the inclusion of developing countries in international policy-shaping as an underlying principle.

The workshop will count on speakers from all stakeholder groups, not only because the diversity of views leads to creative and out-of-the-box suggestions, but also because improving e-/remote participation should be seen as a collective responsibility of all the members of the community.

The round table discussion will have two parts, focussing on answering the following questions:
Part 1: Principles and global strategies:
What are the strategies to foster the use of channels for e-/remote participation by developing countries, least developed countries and remote areas?
How can we formulate a strategy to raise awareness and foster the use of online channels for participation in other global meetings, with focus on the inclusion of developing countries in international policy-shaping?
Can a set of principles and good practices be formulated to ensure the effective impact of e-/remote participants on policy-shaping process?

Part 2: Best practices and developing practices:

How can the IGF community make use of online channels of communication more efficiently to remain in contact and make the IGF a process that develops throughout the year? 
How can we carry out at least one of the IGF open consultations entirely online?
How can we foster the participation of remote speakers and speakers from hubs in workshops?



A brief substantive summary and the main events that were raised:

The importance of e-participation is no longer in question. At the 2011 Internet Governance Forum, some 2000 participants in Nairobi, Kenya were joined by participants from 42 'remote hubs' across the globe, and a number (at least 27) of presenters and panelists joining on web-conference from their homes and offices. Remote hub groups gather together to follow webcasts of sessions, contribute input via text and video, and to discuss raised locally. A number of remote hubs translate discussions into local languages, while others are also contributing to the IGF by writing reflective blog posts and analysis from their 'birds eye view' of the forum. 2011 also saw over 12,000 messages about the IGF shared on Twitter, including tweets sharing links, insights, comments and quotes about 70 different workshops (out of approximately 120). Final statistics should be available soon.

Workshop 67 E-participation Principles consisted of short interventions by panellists followed by a roundtable discussion of issues, principles and guidelines. A review of history and issues in e-participation was given by panellists, after which onsite and remote particpants collaboratively discussed and drafted (see the online discussion at http://diplo.ietherpad.com/ep/pad/view/ro.6Uq9$cCZ/rev.4000) a set of proposed e-participation principles which is now online for follow up discussions at http://discuss.diplomacy.edu/e-participation/

This concrete output is available online and in the section 'conclusions and further comments'.

Conclusions and further comments:
E-participation principles: First draft for consultation

This is the first draft of a set of e-participation principles, collaboratively authored during Workshop 67 at the Nairobi, Kenya Internet Governance Forum (IGF) and created using the iEtherPad (ietherpad.com) collaborative drafting site. This draft combines text from many authors who participated in the workshop room, and remotely. The collaborative draft process can be seen at http://diplo.ietherpad.com/ep/pad/view/ro.6Uq9$cCZ/rev.4000

We invite your comments and discussion which we will then incorporate into a second draft.

Summarised principles : First draft


E-participation is a set of resources that allows for increased openness and inclusiveness, particularly in global policy processes.
E-participation platforms should support customisation for local language and context.
E-participation should be multilingual, moving beyond the current focus on English (e.g. transcripts of main sessions).
High and low bandwidth options should be available to improve access to e-participation.
E-participation should include formal and informal channels of participation.

Equality of participation

E-participation is not about technology; it’s about people. Relational participation that provides a social context is important. E-participation is an important part of meetings.
E-participants should be able to register for the IGF or other global meetings like anyone else, and should not be made to feel like second-class participants.
E-participation should facilitate different social media tools and platforms.
Special efforts should be made to facilitate e-participation of countries, communities, and individuals who have limited access to the Internet.
E-participation should include networking and interconnecting hub-to-hub
as well as hub-to-meeting.
E-participation should actively offer alternatives for e-presenters and e-panellists, to foster the inclusion of voices that do not have the resources to attend in situ.

Scale and stability

E-Participation should be prepared for scale-up in order to facilitate increased e-participation.
The e-participation process should remain open to new ideas and improvements from participants: e-Participation is collaboratively created.
There should be a clear commitment to problem-solving and trouble-shooting, as well as the possibility of e-participation in the development of the e-participation process itself.
The e-participation process should remain flexible and adaptable.

Capacity building

Training is essential for e-participants, onsite panel moderators, and onsite remote moderators.
E-participation must recognise and address the need for basic digital skills.
Capacity building is not just technology-oriented – it must also address moderation and facilitation skills and tech support training for hubs, remote participants, and support.

Providing platforms

E-participation should foster the creation of inclusive platforms among organisations.
E-participation should be built using open source software to support innovation, creativity, and inclusiveness.

A case study: E-participation at the heart of the IGF

E-participation should be as important as in situ meeting participation.
E-participation channels and online communities should be promoted through IGF publicity.