Childnet's Youth IGF Project was created to include the voice of children and young people at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). Following chairing a successful workshop including a panel of youth participants at the IGF 2009, in August 2010, Childnet convened members of the Youth IGF Project between the ages of 14 and 18 to meet to discuss access, diversity, security, openness and privacy in preparation for attending the IGF 2010 in Vilnius.
The Youth IGF Project 2010 consisted of two linked components; a summer camp to prepare a youth team to attend the IGF in Vilnius, enabling them to contribute to a range of discussions at the IGF, as well as mobilising the presence and visible engagement of young people at the IGF.
The August 2010 Youth Camp brought together 9 young people from the UK, as well as two young people from Hong Kong for a three day camp in the summer to discuss Internet Governance and other related topics.
During the youth camp, the Childnet team worked alongside the 11 youth participants to help facilitate a greater understanding of the IGF and the various themes of discussion, as well as helping them to develop their communications and presentation skills, equipping them to take part in the various sessions and workshops in Vilnius. The camp also included a number of relevant industry participants, bringing young people and experts together in discussing the services that young people use and their experiences. The speakers represented different points of view enabling the young people to make their own decisions as to what they wanted to talk about at the IGF.
Following the youth camp, a key decisions made by the youth delegates was to draft a statement of beliefs, forming the core messages for them to take to Vilnius. This statement of belief was supported by their stories and real experiences, including calls to action and points for them to campaign from, forming the basis of their key messages.
In Vilnius, the youth participants took part in workshops, main sessions and corridor meetings as well as conducting a range of interviews with key stakeholders from around the world.
As part of the project, Childnet partnered with Radiowaves, a social learning environment providing social media for education. Building on the partnership with Radiowaves, the young people were encouraged to blog their thoughts and perceptions and to post the interviews that they conducted with other participants at the IGF on the Childnet Radiowaves page.
The young people were warmly commended by many of the other participants and their contributions to the discussions were mentioned across the whole event, with many receiving invitations to attend the discussions in 2011.
Markus Kummer, Executive Coordinator of the Secretariat supporting the United Nations' Internet Governance Forum said:
"I heard many positive reactions about the increased involvement of young people in Sharm and Vilnius. The main point made was that a meeting on any issue related to the Internet should involve children and young people, as they are the first generation of users who grew up with the Internet, they are the "digital natives". Their increased participation in the IGF was seen as a welcome reality check: active participation of young people indicates that the IGF addresses issues of concern to users. There was a generally held view that this was a positive development and further efforts should be made to bring more young people to the annual IGF meetings."