The Geneva Initiative on
Capacity Development in Digital Policy

We live in the midst of digital transformation and on the eve of even more profound changes to society driven by technological progress.

Technological development is accelerating at an exponential pace. Artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, augmented reality, and big data make science fiction our social reality. New technologies will create new opportunities at the same time as they create new risks for society.

The Geneva Initiative on Capacity Development in Digital Policy (the Geneva Initiative) promotes innovative capacity development solutions to embrace digital opportunities and mitigate the risks.

The Geneva Initiative is the result of the Geneva Digital Talks (October – December 2017), online discussions in which stakeholders continued the policy-related dialogue, and research on digital policy. The Geneva Initiative relies on DiploFoundation’s 25 years of experience in capacity development in digital diplomacy and policy, Internet governance, and cybersecurity.

The Geneva Initiative focuses on the main needs for capacity in digital policy, and proposes ways to address these needs. It also suggests who can provide capacity development in the Geneva digital ecosystem.

Capacity development in digital policy: Needs and responses

1. Building awareness about the digital transformation

Awareness is a pre-condition for effective digital policy. Awareness of the impact of technology on society should be developed among policy makers, international organisations, business representatives, media, civil society activists, the technical community, and citizens.

Recommended Activities: regular briefings for policy makers; promoting informed and dynamic media coverage; development of engaging video materials and infographics aimed at audiences with different levels of expertise in digital field; regular updates on policy developments for policy makers, information specialists and general public.

2. Promoting technical solutions for cyber policy problems
3. Dealing with silos in digital policy
4. Providing more evidence and data for addressing Internet challenges
5. Developing comprehensive institutional capacities for digital policies
6. Ensuring access to justice in online disputes for citizens, businesses, and organisations
7. Strengthening capacities for responding to cyber-attacks
8. Promoting shared responsibilities of governments, businesses, and users for digital developments
9. Leaving no one behind in the digital transformation of modern societies
10. Working towards ethical responses to digital challenges

Approaches and methods for capacity development in digital policy

The Geneva Initiative promotes innovative capacity development which moves beyond training provision towards a more holistic and comprehensive approach, ensuring sustainable and effective digital growth in accordance with the spirit of Agenda 2030. The Geneva Initiative proposes the following approaches and methods to develop and implement inclusive, enabling, and sustainable digital policy capacity development.

1. Think global but act - and own - local

The Internet is a global system, however for communities worldwide, it is the local impact of the Internet which is important. The starting point for the Geneva Initiative is what International Geneva can offer through training, research, and policy development. The Geneva Initiative invites others to reflect on what they can do in their respective communities. Local action should address local needs, based on the local context. It should build local ownership of capacity development activities, which increases the effectiveness and sustainability of the results.

2. Respond holistically to digital transformation
3. Involve a wide range of actors
4. Respond quickly, but think long-term
5. Start with individuals, but aim to develop institutions
6. Address current needs, build on existing capacities, but keep the wider picture in mind
7. Perform a ‘humanity check’ for capacity development
8. Move beyond technology towards society and economy
9. Remain flexible and ready to adapt to the unknown
10. Establish trust through transparency and accountability


Since the launch of the Geneva Initiative in December 2017, several activities undertaken by the partners adopted the recommendations and approaches, as suggested by this initiative.

The following activities took place in 2018. For each activity, the described impact corresponds to the Needs and Responses identified by the Geneva Initiative.

1. Capacity development courses

In 2018, the GIP partnered with several organisations to deliver capacity development courses on:

The courses gathered actors from different stakeholder groups to discuss digital policy-related issues. The methodology included the use of innovative tools, and used a blended learning technique (online and face-to-face learning). The approaches identified by the Geneva Initiative were used throughout these courses.

More courses are planned for 2019.

Impact of the activity

The courses served to:

  • Build awareness about specific areas of the digital transformation (Response 1)
  • Facilitate dialogue among governments and non-governmental actors to overcome policy silos (Response 3)
2. Dialogues on capacity development and funding aspects
3. Roles and responsibilities in cyberspace
4. Data Talks for international organisations
5. Inclusive participation in policy processes

The Geneva Initiative on Capacity Development in Digital Policy is an initiative by the Republic and State of Geneva, digitalswitzerland, the Geneva Internet Platform, and the Swiss Confederation.

The Geneva Initiative invites individuals and institutions worldwide to contribute towards capacity development for inclusive, enabling and sustainable digital world. It was launched during the 12th Internet Governance Forum, in Geneva on 20 December 2017.

For participation in the Geneva Initiative and additional information, e-mail Dr Stephanie Borg Psaila, Interim Head of the Geneva Internet Platform ( ) or Mr Michael Kleiner, State of Geneva ( ).