Wednesday, 13 April 2011 6:58 AM

Strengthening Internet Governance and Policy in the Pacific

Sunday 10 April 2011, Noumea, New Caledonia - Over 70 delegates gathered in Noumea, New Caledonia to participate in the inaugural meeting of Pacific Internet Governance Forum (Pacific IGF) held in, Noumea, New Caledonia from 9 - 10 April 2011.

The Pacific IGF is a part of the global IGF process, which started in 2006, and aims to strengthen and enhance the engagement of all stakeholders in Internet governance and the policy framework for the Internet.


The meeting aims to explore how the Internet can be used for the benefit of Pacific communities and how the associated risks and challenges can be best addressed by the stakeholders involved.


The overall theme of the meeting is "Developing the Future Together", reflecting the open and inclusive nature endorsed within the global IGF, with its multilateral, multi-stakeholder, democratic, transparent, and equal participatory approach to discussions on Internet related public policy issues.


In his opening address to delegates, Director-General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Dr Jimmie Rodgers said one of the challenges of Internet use in the Pacific is the issue of content.


'While Internet is a useful development tool, it can be detrimental to communities, especially in terms of negatively influencing the mindsets our children. These are issues for forums such as this to consider. Engaging in policy dialogues is important as it helps to develop appropriate mechanisms for content security and the meeting had brought together a group of committed individuals and organisations to enhance the value of this tool,' he said.


He also emphasised the need for the Pacific voice to be heard globally in the Internet arena and said this body could provide a medium for facilitating this.


In his keynote address, Chair of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Peter Dengate-Thrush spoke on the critical and current issues in Internet infrastructure and why they were important to the Pacific.


He outlined the five current challenges in this area as enhancing the security of the Internet; internationalising the names; switching from direct oversight by the United States Department of Commerce (US DoC) to community accountability; introducing possibly thousands of new generic top-level domains (gTLDS) under the new procedure; and the completion of Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) allocation in 2011/2012 and the transition to Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6).


Don Hollander from I2, a New Zealand based consultancy focused on ICT for development in the Asia Pacific region, shared the vision of what an ICT enabled Pacific village would look like. He highlighted the many uses of ICT that have become available to rural communities, especially for small businesses, healthcare, education, agriculture, churches and communication with relatives living far away.


The two-day meeting will focus on internet access, public policy, the Digital Divide in the Pacific, critical internet infrastructure and emerging issues.


SPC is hosting the meeting at its headquarters in Noumea.


For more information, please contact: Avnita Goundar, Information Officer, Economic Development Division, SPC, Suva, Fiji (email: AvnitaG@spc.int).