Internet Governance Forum
The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) serves to bring people together from various stakeholder groups as equals, in discussions on public policy issues relating to the internet. While there is no negotiated outcome, the IGF informs and inspires those with policy-making power in both the public and private sectors.
At the annual meeting, delegates discuss, exchange information and share good practices with each other. The IGF facilitates a common understanding of how to maximise internet opportunities and address risks and challenges that arise. It was established in 2006 by the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN). The 18th annual meeting of the Internet Governance Forum was hosted by the Government of Japan in Kyoto from 8 to 12 October 2023. The Forum's overarching theme was The Internet We Want - Empowering All People.
As in previous years, the Insafe delegation was in attendance to promote the work of the network and the annual Safer Internet Day (SID) celebrations. In addition, Insafe hosted a Day 0 event on Youth participation: co-creating the Insafe network:
"Reaching children in vulnerable situations is a challenging task. In today’s world, children face vulnerability for a wide range of reasons: poverty, disability, mental health issues, abuse or neglect, family breakdown, homelessness, discrimination, and social exclusion, migration not to be left out. Various programs are designed to help social groups from diverse backgrounds, including those who are vulnerable. While these groups face different challenges, they all share a common need for online safety in an increasingly complex social environment.
"That said, all children can be considered as vulnerable since they develop in a world where decisions are made by others/adults, with an often very different perspective, feeling the pressure to adapt in a world where rights are not protected, risks are everywhere, and the technological developments in the digital environment surpass any imagination. In such an environment, and facing a multitude of everyday problems, children are called upon to develop emotionally, intellectually, and technologically in a world where their voice is not heard and decisions are made by others, often not as familiarised with or concerned for their needs.
"The new European strategy for a Better Internet for Kids (BIK+), adopted by the European Commission in May 2022, aims to provide a delicate balance between digital participation, empowerment, and protection of children in the digital environment. BIK+ comes as an adaptation to the 2012 BIK strategy, following a decade where technological developments exceeded any expectations. The new strategy, adopted after a long consultation process, aims to place children at the forefront of developments/decisions that will be adopted by key stakeholders and the industry that concern the digital environment in the years to come. Children, as the digital citizens of the future, and being raised in a digital environment, deserve to have a say in what concerns the developments, protective measures, and their rights, and to shape the world they will live in.
"Based on the above critical and thoughtful elements, the BIK+ strategy focuses on the following three pillars:
- Provide children with a secure digital environment that safeguards them from harmful and illegal online content, conduct, contact, and risks, while also enhancing their well-being by ensuring age-appropriate content and respecting their best interests.
- Empower all children, including those in vulnerable situations, with the skills and competencies required to make sound decisions and express themselves safely and responsibly in the online environment.
- Encourage active participation by respecting children's opinions and incorporating more child-led activities in the digital environment to promote innovative and creative safe digital experiences.
"Against this background, European Safer Internet Centres (co-funded by the European Commission) as part of the Insafe-INHOPE network aim to further implement the objectives of the BIK+ strategy at national and regional levels. By putting policies into practice, youth participation has become a vital part of the daily work of the European Safer Internet Centres, involving youth in awareness-raising activities, consultations, and co-design processes, among others. In 2022, across the Insafe-INHOPE network (currently consisting of 27 co-funded SICs), approximately 471 youth participation activities were organised reaching over 5,300 children and adolescents across Europe.
"To give further insights into this work, during this Day 0 event, participants heard from representatives of five European Safer Internet Centres (namely Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, Malta, and Poland), sharing their national (and regional) best practices on active youth participation. The presentations were complemented by youth voices, with young people from the Better Internet for Kids Youth Ambassador network also sharing some short messages and interventions online."
Read more about the Day 0 event here.
Explore the Insafe delegation's best practices for empowering young people and the inclusion of children and young individuals in vulnerable situations.
Learn more about the Insafe Coordinator's participation in a child well-being session hosted by UNICEF and the LEGO Group.
Check out the Insafe delegation's initiative of hosting a promotional booth in the IGF village to promote the annual Safer Internet Day (SID) campaign and Better Internet for Kids (BIK) activities.