The Global NGO Community and PIR at IGF
Last week I attended the Internet Governance Forum in Nairobi, Kenya. It was an amazing event in a fantastic city – Nairobi –a booming tech center and a regional hub in Africa for all things NGO.
At the IGF I was privileged to have the opportunity to meet a number of NGO representatives from all over the world, representing the widest breadth of community actors – from human rights advocates, to groups focused on diversity and access for the disabled online. In just a few days at the conference I met with a delegation of global NGOs brought to Nairobi by Freedom House, leaders of the Global Knowledge Partnership based in Europe and South America, and Michel Tchonang of Cameroon, the head of a West African regional NGO association, among many others.
These individuals attended the IGF to learn, network with other NGOs, and interact with the broader Internet community. It was great to receive their feedback and support on PIR’s proposed .NGO Top Level Domain. In fact, throughout our engagement with NGO representatives, we were able to address many of the concerns they had around .NGO. They shared their challenges as well as their opportunities as they seek to do more online. I heard about their hopes and expectations for the Internet as a source for fundraising, organizing and message sharing. I found that most NGOs want to ensure that the .NGO TLD will be managed and operated in a manner that reflects their values and promotes their interests. I spent a lot of time discussing this, which ultimately resulted in widespread support of our proposal. I’m pleased to say that this was in line with responses we’ve received to date from NGOs large and small, all very much in support of PIR running the .NGO extension.
My trip to Nairobi was short, but left a lasting impression for many reasons. It was interesting to see the dynamics between these NGO representatives as they shared information and compared notes on the common challenges they face. It was great to see so many young and tech savvy NGO representatives. At the same time, I was also touched by the number of people who are literally putting their lives at risk, using the Internet to promote openness in closed societies and working to create positive social change (as during the “Arab Spring”).
I left Nairobi yet again energized – and humbled – by the NGO leaders I met who are working so hard to make the world a better place. This trip left me more committed than ever to the idea that, working with global NGOs, PIR can offer a .NGO that is as dynamic as the community we serve.