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Report on the WSIS Forum 2015

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More than 1,500 people gathered in Geneva, Switzerland, from 25-29 May for the tenth annual WSIS (World Summit on the Information Society) Forum.

Organised by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the agenda of the WSIS Forum is a mix of policy statements from ITU Member States and other Internet-related organisations (including ICANN and the Internet Society), and workshops on specific issues such as cybersecurity, capacity building and the IANA stewardship transition. RIPE NCC Executive Board member Salam Yamout took part as a panelist in a session on "Fostering Open Access to International Fiber".

The event also provided opportunities to discuss the upcoming WSIS+10 review, which will be primarily an inter-governmental process looking back at progress made on achieving the goals of the original WSIS events in 2003 and 2005.

Webcast archives of all WSIS Forum sessions are available on the ITU WSIS website.

IANA Stewardship at WSIS Forum 2015

The agenda included a panel session, "IANA Stewardship Transition – A Live Example of a Multistakeholder Process", which focused on the processes involved in developing a proposal for future IANA stewardship. The panel included representatives of the three IANA "affected communities" (names, numbers and protocol parameters), along with speakers from business, academia/civil society and government. While some governments noted that participation in these kinds of processes is still challenging, there was general agreement that the IANA stewardship transition represents an important example of the multistakeholder model being applied to global policy decision-making.

Looking Ahead to WSIS+10

Many of the governments and organisations that delivered policy statements during the WSIS Forum noted the upcoming WSIS+10 review, which will culminate in a two-day High Level Meeting of the General Assembly this December. The process (or "modalities") leading up to this meeting are still being determined, as are the likely outcomes, though the preparation process will kick off in earnest during the week of 8-12 June, with an Expert Group Meeting on “Advancing a Sustainable Information Society for All”, followed by two days of intergovernmental discussions.

The focus of many participants at the WSIS Forum was the importance of highlighting the WSIS commitment to and focus on development, with some even suggesting moves to explicitly link the WSIS Action Lines (developed as part of the 2003-2005 process) to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will replace the Millennium Development Goals (which expire shortly) and shape the UN's global development efforts. The ITU has published a matrix detailing possible linkages between the specific WSIS Action Lines and SDGs.

Others noted, however, that such linkages are unlikely, as the SDGs themselves are in the final stages of a multi-year negotiation process.

Alongside the official WSIS Forum programme, several technical, civil society and academic organisations organised an informational WSIS+10 lunch during the week, which highlighted the importance of coordination and information sharing between all stakeholders involved, particularly given the uncertainties still surrounding the process.

If you have any questions or comments about the WSIS Forum or the ongoing WSIS+10 preparations, please feel free to raise them on the RIPE Cooperation Working Group mailing list.

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