Does the youth factor count in Internet Governance?

Peter Matjašič, President of the European Youth Forum (YFJ), gave an input to Workshop #207 at the Internet Governance Forum in Nairobi: “Is the youth factor counting in Internet Governance? And is IG affecting the Youth?” We document it here.

Has the IGF had any impact on the Youth, what lessons did we learn in the past five years and how can they be improved under the new five year mandate?

Absolutely! The nature of the multistakeholder approach offers a possibility for individual young people and youth organisations to take part and have their voice heard. It is crucial to raise the voice of youth in the IGF but also ensure sustainability of youth representation.

The biggest impact IGF and EuroDIG for us as YFJ and our representatives was raising the awareness on all the different issues, making us want to get involved and have a say.

One such area is e-participation. We have been advocating a lot to make sure that internet governance focuses on providing the possibilities for e-participation to young people, as this has proven to be an innovative approach to participation in decision-making. However, e-participation can only be effective if accompanied by off-line participation. In this sense pairing it with the work of youth organisations on the ground.

What have we learned so far?

- That the biggest problem is to ensure a meanigful participation of young people and youth representatives in the IGF and similar fora. Not to showcase young people. This is linked to financial barriers in bringing people to the actual meetings, to lack of information and knowledge of where/when/how to take advantage of remote participation possibilities.

- That we shouldn’t treat internet issues as youth issues but issues on which we can and should have a say bringing in our own perspective.

What could/should be improved in the near future?

To focus on capacity and competence building of young people and youth representatives, especially with preparatory meetings (we did that in May prior to EuroDIG).

To better support the participation of youth in the different IGF formations and encourage/ support the long-term involvement of youth as a stakeholder.

We should look into how we can further develop the Dynamic Coalition on Youth to channel the voice of youth in the IGFs both during the meetings as well as prior and after.

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Tweets to EuroDIG 2011