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Germany launches the national assessment of UNESCO Internet Universality Indicators

The national Multi-stakeholder Advisory Board (MAB) comprising of 14 German stakeholders met online for the first time to launch the national assessment of UNESCO’s Internet Universality Indicators in Germany on 25 June 2020.

The national Multi-stakeholder Advisory Board (MAB) comprising of 14 German stakeholders met online for the first time to launch the national assessment of UNESCO’s Internet Universality Indicators in Germany on 25 June 2020.

The meeting, chaired by Mr. Wolfram von Heynitz, Head of the Cyber-Foreign Policy Coordination Staff at the German Federal Foreign Office, was opened with a video message from Mr Moez Chakchouk, Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, UNESCO.

“I would like to take this opportunity to commend this initiative illustrating Germany’s strong commitment to promote Internet Universality ROAM principles of Rights, Openness, Accessibility, and Multi-stakeholder participation in its  national digital environment. I believe that through this exercise, Germany will enhance its leadership in shaping global Internet governance and digital transformation as well as contributing to paving the way for similar assessments in other countries, notably in Europe” stressed Mr Moez Chakchouk in his opening remarks.

This launch meeting highlighted the role of the newly constituted MAB, which is responsible for overseeing and supporting the Survey team through the entire research process, with a view to ensuring inclusiveness and innovation in the process.

In addition, as part of this work, a research team led by Professor Dr. Wolfgang Schulz and  Dr Matthias C. Kettemann, LL.M. (Harvard) from the Leibniz Institute for Media Research Hans Bredow Institute (HBI) in Hamburg is working on applying and assessing the indicators in the German national context on behalf of the German National Commission for UNESCO since June 2020. This research team is preparing a report set to be finalized by December 2020 with recommendations for action to align the national Internet space more closely with the  Internet Universality principles.

At national level, these indicators aim to assess achievement and gaps of Internet development and policies in Germany through an inclusive multi-stakeholder methodology. This  national assessment will serve as a holistic approach to help Germany steer their own Internet strategies by operationalizing the ROAM principles and fostering evidence-based policy reform and improvement.

Following this  launch meeting , the first ‘Internet Universality Indicators Experts’ online seminar was co-organized by UNESCO and  the German National Commission for  UNESCO on 3 July 2020. The objective of this seminar was  to inform the newly initiated assessment in Germany and support Prof. Schulz and his team on the research methodology and process through the sharing good practices and lessons learned in the national implementation process worldwide.

This exchange also allowed the experts worldwide to get a more  comprehensive and substantive understanding of the methodological  process to enhance their  general approach in shaping global Internet governance and digital transformation. UNESCO will duplicate this online seminar to support other countries’ assessment process in the future.

In November 2015, UNESCO’s 38th General Conference marked a milestone and endorsed its updated position of Internet Universality, embracing four ROAM principles: an acronym for Rights, Openness, Accessibility to all, and Multistakeholder participation. UNESCO recognizes these four “pillars” underpin the growth and evolution of the Internet, fundamental to the development of the Internet, in ways that are conducive to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Internet Universality ROAM-X Indicators framework is a set of 303 indicators that aim to assess how well national stakeholders, including governments, companies, and civil society perform in advancing the ROAM principles of Rights, Openness, Accessibility, and Multi-stakeholder participation, as agreed by UNESCO Member States. The framework also includes 79 cross-cutting Indicators (category X) concerning gender and the needs of children and young people, sustainable development, trust and security, and legal and ethical aspects of the Internet.

Developed over a three-year process of global and inclusive consultations with stakeholders, the indicators were endorsed for voluntary implementation in November 2018 by the 31st Council of the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC). Since then, UNESCO has been working with stakeholders and encouraging more countries to implement national assessments of Internet development using the Indicators.

More information on the Internet Universality Indicators project, along with the full version of Internet Universality indicators in English, French and Spanish, is available at: https://en.unesco.org/internetuniversality.