“There is never a singular solution”

Questions to Sally Shipman Wentworth, Vice President Global Policy Development, Internet Society, at the Internet Governance Forum in Istanbul.

Netopia: How do you find the Internet Governance Forum?

SSW: I find it substantive, there is a lot of energy and focus on how to strengthen the internet governance process, make sure it’s inclusive and productive. There is a good focus on the topics at hand, some of which are hard policy issues.

N: What challenges do you see for internet governance in general and IGF in particular?

SSW: It’s a relatively new space, we’re creating a new paradigm by bringing all stake-holders together to solve hard problems and find tangible solutions in an open, inclusive, bottom-up way. This can look messy and take time, but it produces robust results. IGF’s challenge is to take the organisation to the next level, make it stable, secure funding and renew its mandate, make sure the secretariat works well and bring more people into the discussion.

N: Is it a problem that the IGF has no formal decision-making power, but only advisory to the UN Director General?

SSW: The IGF was never set up to be a decision-making body. Its job is to tease out these different problems so that stake-holders have the tools they need to cope with them. There is never a singular solution and this is the strength of being problem-solving rather than decision-making. That is okay, that is good for the internet. IGF is also an opportunity for networking, in one session yesterday, I saw a delegate from Vanuatu exchanging with another from S:t Lucia on common challenges. It’s great to find people who share experiences and struggle with the same challenges. That would probably not be the same if it were a formal negotiation.

N: Is the multi-stakeholder model under pressure?

Absolutely, it’s being tested. As I said, we’re creating a new paradigm, working in a different way, bringing in new groups of people. Many stake-holders would likely be more comfortable talking within their own groups.

Internet Society is a global, non-profit organisation dedicated to an open internet for everyone www.internetsociety.org


The interview of Sally Shipman Wentworth is part of the series Voices from Istanbul published on Netopia Website. Read as well the interviews of Dr. Robert Pepper, Vice President Global Technology Policy, Cisco, speaking on behalf of ICC BASIS, and Gürkan Özturan, Spokesperson International Communications, the Pirate Party Movement Turkey