Participate in an e-Conference on Internet Governance and Sustainable Development

The Internet Governance Forum seeks to link discussion of Internet goverance with issues concerning development. This letter from Don McLean invites participation in an e-conference on this topic. Please consider participating. His letter follows:

Dear Bill,

As I may have mentioned when we last met, I accepted an invitation earlier this year to become an associate of the International Institute for Sustainable Development, and to help them with a multi-year initiative to strengthen the linkages between Internet governance and sustainable development.

As you can see at, IISD was established in 1990 in response to the report of the Brundtland Commission. It conducts research, monitors negotiations, sponsors projects, and helps develop leadership among youth on major economic and environmental issues that are part of the overall sustainable development agenda. This agenda was initially set at the 1992 Rio Conference on Environment and Development and updated at the 2002 Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development.

IISD is a highly decentralized organization with offices, projects, associates, and partners in many countries. For this reason, it was an early adopter of e-mail and the web for communication and knowledge sharing, both internally and externally. This practical experience helped IISD understand the role Internet-based communications and knowledge networks potentially could play in furthering achievement of its objectives, and led IISD to become actively involved in the World Summit on the Information Society. This involvement in turn raised IISD’s awareness of the critical role Internet governance institutions and processes play in shaping the Internet’s potential to support sustainable development.

WSIS involvement also made IISD aware of the gulf that currently separates the community of stakeholders engaged in issues of Internet governance (the world of IG) from the community of stakeholders engaged in sustainable development (the world of SD). As David Souter demonstrated in “Whose Summit? Whose Information Society?” (available at, the development community was largely absent from WSIS, even though the summit’s main purpose was to harness the power of ICTs to global development goals. In similar fashion, the Johannesburg Summit paid relatively little attention to the role of ICTs in development. As long as this gulf persists, it is unlikely that the governance processes of either community will fully reflect the needs, aspirations, knowledge or experience of the other, or effectively engage its members in matters that should be of common interest.

Against this background, IISD decided to launch an initiative aimed at strengthening the linkages between the IG and SD communities. As a first step toward this goal, IISD has commissioned a series of scoping studies that aim to present the viewpoints of the two communities on five key issues that are common to both – governance processes, economic barriers to development, capacity-building, access to local knowledge, and indicators for development.

By inviting comments on these studies from members of both communities, and by comparing and contrasting the different perspectives that emerge from the studies and comments, we hope to lay the foundations for a research and action agenda that will begin bringing the worlds of IG and SD closer together. We plan to publish the results of this exercise in conjunction with the second Internet Governance Forum, which will take place in Rio de Janeiro on November 12-15, 2007.

We will be inviting comments on the scoping studies, which are available at , via an e-conference that will run from September 17-28. If you or your colleagues would like to participate in the e-conference, the following note describes how to get involved. If you would like to make other members of the Internet governance community aware of the e-conference, please feel free to create links on your web site or to mention it in your newsletter.

Best wishes,
Don MacLean

Subject: Invitation to IISD E-conference on Internet Governance and Sustainable Development =====

From September 17 to 28, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is hosting an e-conference to engage researchers, practitioners and policy analysts in an open discussion on the intersections between Internet governance and sustainable development. Your participation will help advance the debate.

Please visit the following url for full details,, or read on for a brief summary.

Sustainable development efforts cannot be conceived without global communications and knowledge exchange: therefore, the outcomes of the Internet governance debate will affect our ability to manage the social, environmental and economic factors of sustainable development. Beyond this fundamental link, numerous and diverse issue areas exist where the Internet governance and sustainable development policy communities could discover mutual challenges and learn from each others approaches to confronting them, setting the stage for future cooperation. Over the past year, in collaboration with partners and stakeholders, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) proposed to focus on five areas in which further exploration of potential links between these two communities could be anchored:
– governance processes;
– economic barriers to development;
– the capacity of developing countries to participate in international governance;
– access to local knowledge as a critical input to decision-making; and
– indicators for development.

By commissioning a pair of exploratory papers on each of these topics, IISD aimed to expand the links between these two communities of researchers and practitioners who have spent over three decades working in relative isolation from one another, creating gaps in vocabulary and culture. Each of these papers defines the issue area; describes its relevant governance structures and processes; identifies the main issues currently being debated; articulates actual and potential links between ICTs/Internet governance and sustainable development; and proposes areas for further study.

The purpose of this e-conference is to give participants an opportunity to share their thoughts, comments, or questions regarding the content presented in these paper pairs. You are encouraged join this e-conference to engage other participant in a discussion of common positions, mutual challenges and differences, and how lessons from one side might inform progress on the other, in the context of each issue area.

Copies of the papers can be downloaded at, and an email containing links to the papers will be sent when you confirm your subscription.


You can subscribe via the WWW. Please see:

To participate via e-mail, here are the basic commands:

Send a message to with the following
command in the body of your email message:

subscribe igsd [your name]

If you have any questions about the list or problems with your subscription please contact the list owner at:

Comments are most welcome