A School Providing Training to Affect the Future of the Internet

09/07/2013

One of the main goals of the South School on Internet Governance is to educate and motivate more Latin Americans to join international debates on Internet Governance.

Olga Cavalli, director of the organization, notes that “there are few people from Latin America actively participating in these debates,” which is why the active involvement of more Latin American and Caribbean participants in the discussion of topics relevant to Internet development is needed.

In conversation with LACNIC news, Cavalli said that the South School on Internet Governance trains future Internet leaders so that they are in a better position to face the challenges of the technological era in which we are living.

What is the South School on Internet Governance?

The main goal of the South School on Internet Governance is to motivate young students and professionals throughout Latin America and the Caribbean so that they will participate in Internet Governance debates and to help them understand the importance of these debates for the future of the Internet and the region’s development.

This will allow more and better Latin American and Caribbean participation in Internet Governance related meetings and, in turn, new opinion leaders will be trained and become involved in these processes. It will also help students from other countries get in touch with the reality of the Latin American and Caribbean region.

Which is the main goal of the South School on Internet Governance?

The main goal of the South School on Internet Governance is to provide a training space for new generations of professionals who will actively participate in meetings where the future of the Internet is decided.

Who takes part in the program? Do participants go through a selection process?

An open call is made for those who wish to apply for scholarships by providing their CVs and describing the reasons why they are interested in participating in the program. A group of applicants is selected based on several criteria: geographical diversity, gender diversity, stakeholder diversity, academic background diversity (engineers, lawyers, political scientists, etc.). Those selected receive a full scholarship for their participation.

Looking back on all the meetings you’ve held –from the first meeting in Buenos Aires to the last meeting in Panama–, what do you think is the most important lesson you’ve learned?

The great impact that the South School on Internet Governance has had in allowing young professionals to become involved in the Internet Governance debate and the interest that the region’s governments have shown once their officers participate in the school.

The personal network that is created among our students is also very interesting, as they tend to keep in touch even after completing the program.

How does the South School on Internet Governance interact with other discussion forums such as, for example, the Pre-IGF Forum?

Most of the students and faculty of the South School on Internet Governance (SSIG) participate in the Pre-IGF meeting.

Many SSIG fellows serve as panelists in forums such as ICANN, MAG, Pre-IGF and LACNIC.

The School’s program lasts one week and is usually scheduled for March or April each year. Special emphasis is placed on the fact that participants should follow Pre-IGF debates. This was quite evident in 2012 in Colombia, where many of the Pre-IGF participants had been SSIG fellows that same year in Colombia.

There was also ample participation of SSIG fellows at the most recent LACNIC meeting held in Medellin.

In addition, we encourage our fellows to apply for funding to attend LACNIC, ICANN, IGF, ISOC, and IETF meetings.

In fact, most of our region’s ICANN fellows are former fellows of the South School on Internet Governance, as ICANN considers that these individuals have received very good training and are highly motivated.

How can our region have greater influence on global Internet debates?

Active involvement of Latin American and Caribbean representatives is key for the discussion of the topics most relevant to the region’s development and its insertion into a globalized world.

Due to its geographical and cultural diversity and its social structures, Latin America is different from other regions throughout the world. This means that Latin America and the Caribbean have unique problems that must be taken into account in global debates. For this to happen, active participation in meetings is essential.

This is why I believe that, instead of trying to have greater influence, the region must make its voice heard through relevant participation. Strengthening this participation is the main goal of the South School on Internet Governance.

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