The 2018 Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum (APrIGF) which was held in Port Vila, Vanuatu from August 13-16 came to an exciting close after a week of valuable dialogue on Internet Governance issues in the region. This was the first time the APrIGF was held in the Pacific and the local hosts, Vanuatu’s Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO), Vanuatu Telecommunications and Radiocommunications Regulator (TRR), and the local people of Vanuatu showed the APrIGF community what Pacific Island hospitality is all about.
The community had the privilege of having APrIGF 2018 opened by none other than the Vanuatu Prime Minister, Charlot Salwai. Also present at APrIGF 2018 and delivering his keynote address was the godfather of the Internet himself, Vint Cerf who took time to contribute in various discussions and engage with participants. With the theme of Empowering Communities in Asia Pacific to Build an Affordable, Inclusive, Open and Secure Internet, the calibre of delegates speaks volumes for the importance of such a dialogue.
Participants from all over Asia-Pacific, representing various stakeholder groups, were present to contribute to discussion and engage in the proceedings. This was the culmination of months of planning and execution by the APrIGF Multistakeholder Steering Group (MSG) and the local host.
Attending the APrIGF from the Internet Society Asia-Pacific Bureau were Bureau Director and Chair of APrIGF 2018 MSG, Rajnesh Singh; Regional Development Manager, Naveed Haq; as well as the Internet Society’s Vice President of Global Engagement, Raul Echeberria. The Internet Society team took their time to engage and contribute in activities as well as engage with groups and individual participants at the forum. Among the participants the team was able to engage with were the 2018 APrIGF fellows, for whom the Internet Society is a proud sponsor of their program.
The fellows undertook pre-forum coaching and specialised engagement activities apart from participating in general sessions during the week as part of their program. Fellows – for many it was their first time in the Pacific – were able to share some of their thoughts about the fellowship with the APAC Bureau. Many fellows shared that this was their first Internet Governance event, and they all claimed to have gained a lot from the experience. Experience which will undoubtedly make its way back and influence others in their home countries, which was a common goal among the fellows.
Topics that received attention during the dialogue included those of cybersecurity, privacy, and of course, long-standing challenges of connectivity and affordability. Disaster resilience and recovery as well as education in Internet Governance were also among topics discussed. The establishment of cybersecurity emergency response teams (CERTS), stakeholder cooperation, and community networks were some of the potential avenues put forward to address the challenges faced. Ideas, experience, and questions about challenges were raised, making for a meaningful and productive dialogue. What transpired over the course of the week will be captured and published on the APrIGF 2018 synthesis document.
At the close of APrIGF 2018, MSG Chair Raj Singh thanked the local hosts for the gracious hospitality and support in hosting the event. Sentiments shared by Vanuatu regulator Dalsie Baniala who returned the gratitude to the MSG for choosing Vanuatu and working with the host for bringing APrIGF to the Pacific Islands.
The close of APrIGF also signalled attention toward APrIGF 2019 which is to be held in the Russian port city of Vladivostok on the Pacific coast. General manager of APTLD, Leonid Todorov, who presented on behalf of the 2019 host, was glad to announce that plans were already underway and that Russia was looking forward to welcoming the community in July 2019.
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