It was my very first time attending a regional IGF in person and I was very thrilled to have been selected as one of the 28 fellows from 19 different countries through the APrIGF-APSIG Joint Fellowship program. This year it was more exciting because Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum (APrIGF), Asia Pacific School on Internet Governance( APSIG), and APNIC came together to resume the in-person Internet Governance discussions by inviting us to Singapore. This fellowship opportunity enabled us to travel to Singapore and attend in-person APSIG 2022, APrIGF 2022 and APNIC 54 jointly. APrIGF is one of the robust regional forums that brings different stakeholders of the Internet ecosystem to the same table to discuss the underlying issues related to the internet in the region. The discussions include issues of connectivity, accessibility, digital divide, freedom of expression, and other emerging issues related to the Internet.
This was the 13th edition of APrIGF which was hosted in Singapore with the overarching theme of “People At the Center: Envisioning a community-led Internet that is inclusive, sustainable and trusted” with three session tracks namely “Inclusion”, “Sustainability” and “Trust”. All the discussions/sessions were selected based on those 3 tracks. Before we dive into the whole APrIGF experience we were enrolled in APSIG for the first 3 days as part of the Joint fellowship program.
The detailed schedule of the event could be Found on this link.
During the first 3 days of the program, we attended different capacity-building sessions where we learned about the Internet Governance ecosystem, the role of different stakeholders, the Internet policy development process, and the operational technologies that keep the Internet awake 24/7. All these sessions enabled us to dive deeper into the emerging Internet Governance issues. After completing 3 days at APSIG we participated in APrIGF where on the first day we were introduced to the evolution of UN IGF. We were provided a platform to provide our inputs to the upcoming youth track at the 17th IGF I also contributed to this session as a rapporteur.
For another 3 days, there were many amusing topics in Internet Governance, unlike the dedicated APSIG, APrIGF had parallel sessions happening and along with it, other interesting topics were being discussed in other rooms of the APNIC conference which were equally important and interesting to me. I specifically attended sessions related to Misinformation and Disinformation, Addressing Gender-based Violence Online, and Inclusive internet for people with disabilities. During all my engagements my focus was on raising the voices of youths in the regional and global forums. In addition to that, engaging in Town Hall sessions that hear the public opinion about all the sessions stimulating experience. All the input from those town hall sessions were crafted into the synthesis document which is one of the major outputs of the APrIGF process. Likewise the synthesis document would also allow comment periods online to get inputs from other audiences who couldn’t attend APrIGF in person.
An extra perk
Another pleasant experience was to be part of the APAC youth IGF which was co-organized by youth IGF Nepal and other youth Initiatives in the region. I was very surprised and inspired to interact with more than 25 participants from 13 different countries who managed to attend the event in person despite their travel costs.
You can read the summary of APAC youth IGF at this link
I would also like to extend my sincere gratitude to APrIGF, APSIG, APNIC, Dot Asia (APrIGF Secretariat) leadership, and the wider Internet Governance community for making our fellowship experience a splendid opportunity. The buddy group mentors Ashirwad and Muhabasir guided me and my buddies to have substantial experience throughout the fellowship program. The overall APrIGF-APSIG joint fellowship experience for me was ideal as it enabled me to have an in-person meeting with many inspiring internet governance leaders and was indeed a great opportunity for networking with new people and reunion with people I already knew. Additionally, On my note, I had a very treasurable learning and networking opportunity with enormous inspiring Internet leaders around the region. I am back to my country with more synergy to contribute bringing more youth Internet Advocates into the ecosystem.