Published on:Thursday,1 May 2014
NETmundial was a global conference held in Sao Paulo, Brazil on 23 and 24 April 2014. It arose only recently, in October 2013, during a meeting between President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil and ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade.
NETmundial was described as a "Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance" and aimed to bring together a global community to reach agreements on two subjects: a set of "principles" for Internet governance, and a "roadmap" for the future of Internet governance.
As a multistakeholder event, NETmundial included representatives from all sectors of society – government (including ministers and high level officials), industry, civil society, and the technical community – all participating on an equal footing. The meeting was likewise organized in a multistakeholder fashion, by two committees including the 'High-Level' multistakeholder committee (HLMC) and the 'Executive' multistakeholder committee (EMC), and by a secretariat within the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee (CGI.br, itself a multistakeholder organization).
Akinori Maemura, Chair of the APNIC EC, served as one of the two representatives of the global technical community appointed to the EMC.
Before the Event
With the announcement of NETmundial, there was an open call for submissions on the two subjects (principles and roadmap) from any interested party. A total of 188 submissions were incorporated by the EMC into a draft "Outcome Document", which was then opened for public comment. Public comments were received on this document, and these 1,370 submissions were then incorporated by the committee into a final draft document released just before the meeting.
All initial submissions to NETmundial, and all comments to the first document, were available publicly; and these are still available on the website, along with the entire proceedings of the event.
At the event itself – attended by 1,480 people including remote participants – opening formalities included addresses by President Rousseff, Neelie Kroes (Vice President of the European Commission), Carl Bildt (Communications Minister of Sweden), Hamadoun Toure (Secretary General of the ITU), Fadi Chehade of ICANN, and many other high-level officials.
The working agenda of NETmundial involved a series of plenary sessions to discuss the final draft outcome document. Discussions in the working sessions were entirely open, with equal time given to individuals from government, business, civil society, or the technical community; whether they spoke from the floor, from remote hubs (in 30 locations) or by email/chat.
After long and detailed discussion sessions, the EMC and the working session chairs then worked (in drafting sessions, which were held off the Mail Hall but open to observers) to address all comments to produce the final drafts which were then adopted by the meeting. The final text was entitled, "NETmundial Multistakeholder Statement", and incorporated thousands of individual contributions from hundreds of organizations and individuals, from different stakeholder groups and different regions of the world.
At the end of the meeting, some governments such as India, Russia, and Cuba, and also some civil society groups, challenged this model and/or the outcomes. A more general view was while the NETmundial model could be improved, it was successful in producing a reasonable outcome in a record time.
Even so, the NETmundial document was widely supported, and will serve as an important reference for future decisions on Internet-related topics such as the evolution of IANA, the role of the ITU (and the UN in general) in Internet matters, the follow-up process to the World Summit on the Information Society, and the future of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF).
Although NETmundial was a one-off meeting, it also provided an example of how to develop a non-binding outcome through bottom-up, open processes, which included all stakeholders including even high-level governmental officials.
APNIC at NETmundial
Prior to the event, APNIC contributed to the NRO submission to NETmundial, which is available on nro.net. As an EMC member, Akinori Maemura contributed many hours (days) to NETmundial preparations, via face-to-face and online meetings.
During NETmundial itself, APNIC's objectives included the following:
- To support the NRO contribution and ensure it was reflected in the final outcome document
- To monitor discussions, particularly those related to IANA and the proposed transition of its oversight
- To share APNIC's views with NETmundial attendees, from a technical perspective, on current issues including IPv6 deployment and the role of IANA, and also better understand the positions of attendees related to these topics and others such as the IGF and the next ITU Plenipotentiary Conference
- To meet with the Internet technical community (I*) organizations and the NRO, particularly to discuss the transition of IANA oversight
APNIC was represented at NETmundial by Akinori Maemura, Director General Paul Wilson, and Strategic Engagement Director, Pablo Hinojosa.
During NETmundial, APNIC met with government representatives from the AP region and other stakeholder groups. The key points that APNIC brought to these discussions were the following:
- The importance of IPv6 deployment and the continuing need to promote IPv6 transition in various sectors
- The importance of operational stability of IANA's services, and of participating in the development of a transition plan for the US Government announced departure of its stewardship role out of the IANA functions
- The agreed need to strengthen the IGF, as the recognized forum for Internet governance issues
- Asia Pacific perspectives on Internet development in terms of: growth, diversity, and technical and human resource challenges
Among others, NETmundial made several achievements which are of importance to the RIR and broader Internet communities:
- Recognition of critical aspects of the Internet as a service infrastructure: global coherence and unified addressing; security, stability and resilience; and use of open standards
- Recognition of essential process aspects of Internet cooperation, including the "multistakeholder" approach, open and participatory consensus-based decision-making, transparency, and accountability
- Strong recognition of the IGF as the recognized location for Internet governance discussions in future, and calls to further strengthen and support the IGF
- Useful and practical focus on the IANA oversight transition process, to be completed by September 2015
We believe that the NETmundial meeting was a success, achieving more concrete outcomes than many hoped, and without any of the impasses that many feared. While the outcome document could have been more substantial in many respects, it does contain principles and considerations that are important to APNIC, and it carries a substantial degree of authority. We do also feel confident that APNIC achieved our objectives in participating in NETmundial.