Global Information Society Watch foregrounds National and Regional Internet Governance Forum Initiatives

The 2017 edition of the annual Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) report focused on National and Regional Internet Governance Forum Initiatives (NRIs), increasing the capacity of civil society actors to analyse and engage with internet governance processes at all levels. NRIs are now widely recognised as a vital element of the IGF process and seen to be the key to the sustainability and ongoing evolution of collaborative, inclusive and multistakeholder approaches to internet policy development and implementation.

A total of 54 reports on NRIs were gathered in this edition, including 40 country reports from contexts as diverse as the United States, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, Pakistan, the Republic of Korea and Colombia. The country reports are rich in approach and style and highlight several challenges faced by activists organising and participating in national IGFs, including broadening stakeholder participation, capacity building, the unsettled role of governments and impact.

The 2017 GISWatch edition also included seven regional reports that analysed the impact of regional IGFs, their evolution and challenges, and the risks they still need to take to shift governance to the next level, while seven thematic reports offered critical perspectives on NRIs as well as mapping initiatives globally.

A special issue of GISWatch was also published as a companion edition to the main one, under the title “Internet governance from the edges: National and regional IGFs in their own words”, in collaboration with the IGF Secretariat. While the main 2017 GISWatch annual report provides independent and analytical perspectives on the role of NRIs in internet governance broadly, the special issue aims to give voice and visibility to the stories of each NRI, share their experiences and achievements and highlight their perspectives on internet governance.

To watch out for: The 2018 GISWatch edition will focus on local access and community networks initiatives, with more than 40 country reports and several thematic reports. APC and IDRC will also publish a baseline review of the GISWatch country reports from 2007 to 2017 to identify trends in civil society perspectives on what needs to be done to create a people-centred information society.

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