IGF 2018 WS #450 Fostering Digital Social Innovation in the Global South

Salle VIII

Sub-theme description: Youth and Inclusion

Organizer 1: Sandra Cortesi, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University
Organizer 2: Fieseler Christian, Norwegian Business School BI
Organizer 3: Gabriela Hadid, Omidyar Network
Organizer 4: Malavika Jayaram, Digital Asia Hub
Organizer 5: Jorge Vargas, Wikimedia Foundation

Speaker 1: Sasha Costanza-Chock, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Kochi Erica, Intergovernmental Organization, African Group
Speaker 3: Ernesto Miranda, Government, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 4: Muthoni Wanyoike, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 5: Pindar Wong, Government, Asia-Pacific Group


Jan Gerlach, Urs Gasser

Online Moderator

Andres Lombana (ISUR), Lionel Brossi (Instituto de la Comunicación e Imagen Universidad de Chile)


Jorge Vargas


Round Table - 90 Min

  • [Co-organizer] Sandra Cortesi is the Director of the Youth and Media project at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. She’s responsible for coordinating the Youth and Media project’s policy, research, and educational initiatives. Sandra focuses on topics such as inequitable access, skills and digital citizenship, and spaces for participation, civic engagement, and innovation. Stemming from ongoing qualitative research with young people from all over the world, Sandra will act as a conduit for the voices of underserved and often underrepresented youth.
  • [Formal Speaker] Sasha Costanza-Chock, Associate Professor of Civic Media at MIT, brings their expertise on the impact of communication technologies on social change movements. More specifically, their work focuses on the effect of media technologies on youth organizing and the immigrant rights movement in the United States. Sasha’s work in this space will enable them to share insights around how youth innovate social movements through digital technologies.
  • [Co-organizer] Christian Fieseler, as the Director of the Nordic Centre for Internet and Society in Oslo, worked in a number of national and international research projects on the future of work. In this panel, he will represent the European perspective and provide insights from his ongoing research on digital transformation, new forms of working, and digital bottom-of-the-pyramid business models.
  • [Co-organizer] Urs Gasser is the Executive Director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and a Professor of Practice at Harvard Law School. His research and teaching activities focus on information law, policy, and society issues. Current projects focus on the governance of evolving and emerging technologies such as Internet of Things, Augmented Reality, and Artificial Intelligence, with a particular interest in privacy and security issues and the broader implications of these technologies. As a longer-term research interest, he studies the patterns of interaction between law and innovation as well as innovation within the legal system in the digital age.
  • [Organizer] Jan Gerlach is the Public Policy Manager for Wikimedia Foundation ([email protected]). Jan will serve as the main host and moderator for the session.
  • [Co-organizer] Gabriela Hadid manages Governance & Citizen Engagement investments in Latin America for the Omidyar Network. She joined Omidyar from Google Argentina, where she worked for six years on policy programs for vulnerable populations and first-time Internet users in Latin America. She was also the region’s main spokesperson for Privacy, Safety, and User Advocacy.
  • [Co-organizer] Malavika Jayaram, as the Executive Director of the Digital Asia Hub in Hong Kong, will provide a valuable perspective from the Global East, particularly from South Asia. By representing one of the largest areas of digital economic activity among young people, youth voices from the Global East are essential to ensure an inclusive and forward-thinking discussion. Malavika’s background in law, data ethics, privacy, and identity will broaden the discussion to focus on the ethical and legal status of youth economic participation.
  • [Formal Speaker] Erica Kochi co-founded and co-leads UNICEF’s Innovation Unit, a group tasked with identifying, prototyping, and scaling technologies and practices that improve UNICEF’s work on the ground. Erica also serves as Innovation Advisor to UNICEF’s Executive Director. Working with partners in the private sector, academia, and international development, the Innovation Unit supports UNICEF’s 135+ country offices in the practical application of design and technology to strengthen international development outcomes.
  • [Formal Speaker] Ernesto Miranda, as the Digital Agenda General Coordinator for the Mexican Ministry of Culture, supervises the national digital strategy for the Mexican Ministry of Culture, strategizing on the use of technologies to preserve and amplify Mexican culture and heritage.
  • [Co-organizer] Jorge Vargas leads strategic partnerships in LATAM for the Wikimedia Foundation. He works closely with mobile operators and industry stakeholders to increase reach, access, usage, and awareness of Wikipedia in the region. He works with civil society, academia, industry, and policy players to develop innovative approaches for the open Internet and access to knowledge.
  • [Formal Speaker] Muthoni Wanyoike is a Data Scientist at Nairobi Women in Machine Learning & Data Science in Nairobi. Muthoni’s work focuses on creating opportunities for women to connect with others in the data science field and develop their careers. Muthoni will share her experience in community building (she established the first African chapter of the Women in Machine Learning and Data Science meetups), as well as managing “first-world” corporate partnerships, including collaborating with the Google Developers program in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • [Formal Speaker] Pindar Wong is the Chairman of VeriFi (Hong Kong). He also serves as a Steering Committee member for the Digital Asia Hub. As a Commissioner on the Global Commission on Internet Governance, Pindar is helping to articulate a strategic vision for the future of Internet governance. He brings an entrepreneurial perspective to the panel with a geographical focus on Asia and is able to share insights in utilizing innovations in entrepreneurial activities.

Past and current work conducted by the proposed speakers focuses on the use and adaptation of the Internet by traditionally marginalized communities across the globe (with a particular focus on the Global South) to increase the inclusion of these groups online. The initial set of suggested speakers includes members from civil society, government officials, and company representatives. The current group of speakers is also diverse in terms of ethnicity, race, gender and sexual identity, national origin, location, and age.

Digital social innovation (DSI) offers underserved individuals diverse opportunities to develop bottom-up ICT-enhanced solutions to help address local societal issues, such as inequality, marginality, and social exclusion. With a focus on the Global South as an arena for innovation, this roundtable will discuss how multi-stakeholder communities — including businesses, governmental departments, and non-governmental organizations — can work together to foster sustainable and socially-embedded solutions. As essential prerequisites for digital social innovation, this roundtable will evaluate contingent factors that challenge access to ICT infrastructure and the capacity to develop skills for innovation in the Global South. Access to sufficient battery power or high-speed Internet, for example, remain challenges for innovation. Access to sufficient knowledge with actionable components that bring innovation to the market constitutes a challenge as well. The participants will present examples of how digital social innovation can help overcome and address these concerns in the Global South, identifying key areas for future intervention. In addition, this session will explore best practices surrounding local-language innovation, particularly on global and predominantly English-speaking platforms, to render the potential of digital social innovation more encompassing. Local-language apps, for instance, can provide great value to reducing inequalities while encouraging a decentralization of the Internet. The intervention of ‘First World’ companies, predominantly based in Silicon Valley, in developing countries for social innovation can act as corporate value signaling but can also result in co-opting such emerging markets as long-growth. Since public-private partnerships offer an expedited route towards digital social innovation among underprivileged individuals, it is imperative that issues of innovation copyright and profit-sharing are addressed to ensure that social innovation does not transition into exploitation. As such, this roundtable will explicitly examine the ethical and commercial issues surrounding private intervention in social innovation. The roundtable approach is suggested as a way to shift the focus to a Global South perspective in an attempt to broaden the conversation and include the perspectives and challenges of developing countries. We, therefore, propose a 90-minute, strongly moderated roundtable discussion focused on digital social innovation in the Global South. 

We propose a 90-minute, strongly moderated roundtable discussion focused and centered on youth and digital social innovation in the Global South. The roundtable will begin with a 5-10 minute framing by the moderator, which may include a brief overview of the issue, key questions, or challenges to the overarching topic. The roundtable portion will then include 5-7 minute reactions to that framing from participants in the session. Questions from the moderator, audience, on-site participants, and online participants will then be incorporated into the conversation. The online participants will be given equal opportunity for input as on-site participants, in providing both questions and comments. The roundtable format is most suitable for this discussion as it enables youth stakeholders, who would otherwise be restricted in their ability to participate in the dialogue, to have a greater level of involvement through online contributions. Additionally, roundtables represent the ideal format for networking and in-depth discussion.

This workshop will fulfill the IGF sub-theme “Internet for Development & Sustainable Development Goals” as it will provide an important discussion on how stakeholders can work together to support bottom-up digital social innovation, while respecting ethical and commercially fair practices. This issue is timely given that the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development reflects an understanding that an open Internet and the spread of global interconnectedness can enable economic development and cross-border commercial activities that can bridge the digital divide and expand societal inclusion. By discussing digital social innovation in the context of emerging economic opportunities, we will provide a critical examination of the changing nature of digital participation, open innovation, and digital inequalities.

Online Participation

We will leverage the proposers’ and speakers’ home institution’s existing websites, social media channels, and mailing lists to reach out to people interested in participating online, channeling them into the official IGF WebEx environment to contribute to the session. Individuals will also be encouraged to submit contributions via email in advance of the session. We will target in particular youth stakeholder groups for submission of additional content and suggestions prior to the session.


We propose a 90-minute, strongly moderated roundtable discussion focused on digital social innovation in the Global South.

  • Introduction by Jan Gerlach and Urs Gasser - 10 minutes
    • This introduction will include a brief overview of the issue, raise key questions, and point out certain challenges around the topic. 
  • Directed topics - 30 minutes (5-7 minutes per topic)
    • Inclusion
    • Local language innovation
    • Reliable/high-quality access to ICT infrastructure
    • Skills for digital social innovation
    • Public-private partnership: Innovation copyright and profit sharing 
  • Open debate among speakers, audience, and online participants on topics raised earlier - 45 minutes
  • Conclusion by Christian Fieseler and Malavika Jayaram - 5 minutes 
Session Time
Session Report (* deadline 26 October) - click on the ? symbol for instructions
  • Session Type (Workshop, Open Forum, etc.): Workshop
  • Title: Fostering Digital Social Innovation in the Global South (#450)
  • Date & Time: Tuesday, November 13th 2018, 4:50 - 6:20 pm
  • Organizer(s):  
    • Sandra Cortesi
    • Christian Fieseler
    • Gabriela Hadid
    • Malavika Jayaram
    • Jorge Vargas
  • Chair/Moderator:
    • Jan Gerlach
    • Urs Gasser
  • Rapporteur/Notetaker: TBD
  • List of speakers and their institutional affiliations (Indicate male/female/ transgender male/ transgender female/gender variant/prefer not to answer):
    • Erica Kochi, UNICEF (female)
    • Jorge Vargas, Wikimedia Foundation (male)
    • Muthoni Wanyoike, Nairobi Women in Machine Learning & Data Science (female)
    • Pindar Wong, VeriFi (male)
  • Theme (as listed here): Digital Inclusion & Accessibility

  • Subtheme (as listed here): Youth Inclusion

  • Please state no more than three (3) key messages of the discussion [question or statement form].

We will explore the following three questions around digital social innovation in the Global South in terms of how they might be addressed from a multi-stakeholder approach that includes governmental departments, businesses, and non-governmental organizations.

  • What are the contingent factors that challenge access to ICT infrastructure and the capacity to develop skills for digital social innovation in the Global South?

  • How can we support and foster bottom-up digital social innovation while respecting ethical and commercially fair practices?

  • Moving forward, how can we cultivate and promote sustainable and socially-embedded solutions around creating opportunities for digital social innovation?