The recent ICANN80 Policy Forum in Kigali, Rwanda, witnessed a vibrant exchange of ideas and participation from a diverse range of stakeholders. A significant contributor to this dynamic was the ICANN Fellowship Program, which empowers individuals from underrepresented communities to actively engage in ICANN’s multistakeholder model.

Fresh Voices, New Ideas:

The Fellowship Program brings individuals with unique backgrounds and perspectives to the table. At ICANN80, these Fellows actively participated in discussions, asking critical questions and proposing innovative solutions. This influx of fresh ideas enriched the policy debates and ensured a more comprehensive exploration of the issues at hand.

Bridging the Gap:

The program fosters a bridge between various regions and communities. Fellows from developing countries can bring valuable insights into local internet governance challenges, while those with technical expertise can bridge the gap between technical and policy discussions. This cross-pollination of perspectives leads to more inclusive and well-rounded policy decisions.

Building Capacity for the Future:

The Fellowship Program is not just a one-time event. Fellows receive ongoing training and mentorship, fostering a new generation of internet governance leaders. Their participation at ICANN80 lays the groundwork for their continued involvement in shaping the future of the internet.

Looking Ahead:

ICANN80 serves as a testament to the positive impact of the Fellowship Program. As ICANN continues to grapple with complex issues, the diverse voices and perspectives of Fellows will be crucial in crafting effective and inclusive policies.

However, some areas for consideration remain:

  • Sustainability: Ensuring continued funding and support for the program is vital to maintain its effectiveness.
  • Geographical Representation: Expanding the program’s reach to ensure participation from a truly global pool of talent.
  • Mentorship: Strengthening the mentorship program to provide Fellows with even greater support in navigating the complexities of ICANN and its policy processes.

ICANN80 provided a glimpse into the transformative power of the Fellowship Program. By fostering inclusivity and empowering diverse voices, the program plays a critical role in building a more robust and representative internet governance ecosystem.

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