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
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.
Recommended Activities: Facilitating dialogue among technical, security, and policy communities on specific cybersecurity challenges; sensitising technical and policy communities about each other’s work through consultation processes and online exchanges; promoting success stories about the effective use of technological solutions to address cyber policy problems.
Recommended Activities: Promoting a ‘cross-silo-by-design’ perspectives among actors; ensuring that events include wide representation of perspectives (i.e. participation of government representatives, civil society, business, end-user communities, and academics – in particular lawyers and economists – in e-commerce debates); supporting ‘boundary spanners’ (who can understand more than one professional contexts) and are able and willing to work across silos; developing cross-silo dictionaries to ensure that terminology is not a barrier for communication among different silos.
Recommended Activities: Developing institutional capacities for monitoring, collecting and processing data; enhancing academic and policy research related to metrics; facilitating communication between academic and expert communities and policy-makers; implementing existing and developing new indicators for digital developments.
Recommended Activities: Developing a holistic and whole-of-government approach for cyber policy by involving all relevant public institutions and stakeholders; facilitating the further development of the capacity of institutions that should contribute to developing international agreements, norms, and rules, and, on request, facilitating their implementation nationally; increasing ‘vertical policy coherence’ by enhancing cooperation between the UN and regional instances, such as for cyber norms and confidence building measures; providing training for diplomats and other governmental officials.
Recommended Activities: Mapping the main dispute resolution mechanisms, ranging from traditional (courts, arbitration) to innovative solutions; organising brainstorming sessions with experts from dispute resolution and online communities; running stress-tests for innovative dispute resolution via simulation exercises (possible introduction into teaching of universities and academic institutions); encouraging the development of cyber legal clinics aimed to help citizens and organisations protect their rights online, ranging from enforcing contracts via protection of privacy to libel cases.
Recommended Activities: Improving capacities for technical, legal, and diplomatic mechanisms to address requests for cross-border cooperation and dialogue in case of attacks; building monitoring, response, and mitigation capacities based on communication and cooperation between national and international entities and stakeholders; organising national, regional, and international exercises, simulations, drills, and table-top exercises with a multistakeholder nature, to develop, test and exercise emergency response plans and procedures.
Recommended Activities: research on roles and responsibilities in various areas of digital policy; facilitating cross-stakeholder discussions on how each party sees its own and others’ roles and responsibilities.
Recommended Activities : Monitoring digital divides; developing new policies that will promote the interests of vulnerable groups; developing the capacities of vulnerable communities to participate, in order to promote and protect their interests in digital negotiations; promoting the development of content in different languages; ensuring effective and inclusive online participation at major policy-shaping fora.
Recommended Activities: Engaging philosophical and social academic departments in research on the ethical aspects of digital developments; organising ‘digital cafe philo’ events that address questions such as protection of core human values in the digital era and the impact of AI and other developments on free will and freedom of choice; developing new language and terminology for dealing with ethical and philosophical challenges posed by AI and other new technologies.
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.
Recommended Activities: Mapping the main dispute resolution mechanisms, ranging from traditional (courts, arbitration) to innovative solutions; organising brainstorming sessions with experts from dispute resolution and online communities; running stress-tests for innovative dispute resolution via simulation exercises (possible introduction into teaching of universities and academic institutions); encouraging the development of cyber legal clinics aimed to help citizens and organisations protect their rights online, ranging from enforcing contracts via protection of privacy to libel cases.t of cyber legal clinics aimed to help citizens and organisations protect their rights online, ranging from enforcing contracts via protection of privacy to libel cases.
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.
- Digital Commerce (Geneva, January – March 2018), delivered in partnership with the International Trade Center (ITC), the Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS International), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and DiploFoundation. It course ran from 29 January to 7 March 2018, and had a completion rate of 100%.
- Internet Governance and Digital Policy (New York, April – May 2018), delivered in cooperation with the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the UN in New York and DiploFoundation.
- Data Diplomacy (Bern, April – June 2018), supported by Switzerland’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA).
- Digital Policy and Diplomacy (Geneva, October – December 2018), delivered with DiploFoundation, in cooperation with the Republic and State of Geneva, the University of Geneva, and the South Centre.
Impact of the activityThe 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)
- March 2018: Recipes for success: The funding dimensions of capacity development (as part of WSIS Forum, Geneva)
- May 2018: The elephant in the room: The funding dimension of capacity development (as part of RightsCon Toronto, Canada)
- November 2018: The challenges of capacity development: practical approach (as part of the 13th Internet Governance Forum, Geneva)
Impact of the activityThese dialogues have served to: Raise awareness about the funding dimension, which should reach stakeholders who lack the financial resources to participate (Response 9)
Impact of the activityThe activity is serving to:
- Promote the shared responsibilities of governments, businesses, and users for digital developments (Response 8)
Impact of the activityThe Data Talks serve to:
- Deal with silos in digital policy, using data as the issue which connects the work of international organisations (Response 3)
- Creating awareness and sharing best practices on how to overcome data-related issues (Response 4)
- Developing institutional capacities for tackling digital policy issues (Response 5)
Impact of the activityThe initiatives serve to:
- Ensure effective and inclusive participation in main policy processes, and promote participation through various languages (Response 9)
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 ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) or Mr Michael Kleiner, State of Geneva ( email@example.com ).