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APIGA: From Digital Native to Digital Citizen

8 August 2018
By Joyce Chen and Kenn Yee


“As young people, we shouldn’t see being young as a disadvantage, but as a strength because we are digital natives and can offer something fresh to the Internet community.”
 - Jianne Soriano, Internet Governance Forum
Multistakeholder Advisory Group Member

In its third year, the Asia Pacific Internet Governance Academy (APIGA) is now recognized as the region’s premier platform for youth engagement on Internet governance (IG) issues. Last month, we welcomed 32 participants, selected from a competitive pool of over 280 applicants, to South Korea’s Chonnam National University in Gwangju. The five-day academy was co-organized by ICANN and the Korea Internet & Security Agency (KISA). Our regional partners such as the Asia Pacific Network Information Center (APNIC), DotAsia organization, and Internet Society (ISOC) provided support too.

Ushering the Next Generation

Through APIGA, we aim to guide today’s youth – characterized as digital natives – to contribute to the Internet community as digital citizens. To help participants identify their interests, we invited them to present their own digital native experiences and consider what is necessary to develop a culture of multistakeholderism in their local communities. Interestingly, conversations on developments such as Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) and Universal Acceptance sparked a deeper interest in issues related to digital access and inclusion in Asia Pacific.

This year, we improved APIGA with an immersive learning experience. Mentors facilitated discussions and were available throughout the week to guide our participant’s learning process. Participants heard from the Korean Internet Governance Alliance (KIGA) and various top-level domain (TLD) operators about how they work towards shaping local Internet policies. Those from non-technical background also benefited from interactive sessions such as the game “How the Internet Works”. A big thank you to our local and regional partners for their contributions toward making APIGA a continuous success.

APIGA Montage

“The game on ‘How the Internet Works’ really stands out the most to me. It's something new and helped me, as a non-technical person, to understand [the Internet] better. The group work on IG issues was also great because we can learn from each other about the issues we encountered from our countries.”
 - Mary Rose, APIGA Participant from The Philippines

The week-long discussions culminated into a mock ICANN meeting. This simulation, led by youth ambassadors from NetMission.Asia, started a heated debate amongst participants on the proposed criteria for string objections and closed generics in the New Generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) Program.

"The Mock Conference allowed me to experience the multistakeholder process first-hand and inspired my interest to participate in other regional forums. I like that our voices could be heard, even as youths.”
 - Daine Loh, APIGA Participant from Singapore and ICANN Intern

About 1 out of 5 APIGA alumni carry on to participate in ICANN and other regional Internet fora. We hope that more from this new batch of APIGA alumni will join their peers on these spaces — such as Sen Hiu Shek and Mohammad Abdul Awal Haolader — who continue to actively participate in the Internet community.

“You will draft the Internet [policies] in the future, not us. You will be driving the Internet decades from now.” - Akinori Maemura, ICANN Board Member

Join us for next year’s APIGA! Find out more about APIGA here: http://go.icann.org/apiga2018


Joyce Chen

Kenn Yee