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ROAM-X project applauded at Internet Governance Forum 2021


On 6 December 2021, UNESCO organized a 3-hour special pre-event on Internet Universality ROAM-X Indicators (IUIs) on Day-0 of the Internet Governance Forum 2021 to conduct its annual showcasing the overall achievement of Internet Universality ROAM-X indicators project.

With 34 countries conducting the national assessment of ROAM-X Indicators, 25 leading experts shared the national initiatives, key findings and recommendations to measure national digital ecosystem for mainstreaming human rights, open and accessible Internet as well as multi-stakeholder Internet governance.

All participants called for more accountability from their national institutions and relevant stakeholders’ community, to help formulate stronger reforms and initiatives that protect human rights and gender equality online, and particularly those of vulnerable groups. They advocated for more representation and inclusive participation of under-represented groups (women, people with disabilities), notably through the multistakeholder approach of the ROAM-X framework.

The support to all Member States and stakeholders provided by UNESCO through its ROAM-X indicators and the Internet Universality Dynamic Coalition is a unique contribution. Member States can apply this powerful policy toolkit and process to pinpoint digital gaps, and use the evidence generated to underpin recommendations for guiding humanistic digital transformation around the world.

Tawfik Jelassi, UNESCO's Assistant Director General for Communication and Information

Matthias Kettemann, Head of Research Program, Leibniz Institute for Media Research │ Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI), presented the results and significant impact achieved of the newly completed national of assessment of IUIs in Germany. He informed that recommendations which emerged from the assessment have had a major presence in the topics raised by the German Coalition Treaty 2021-2026, and stated: “The Internet has arrived at the center of political debate, as digitization now shapes politics in Germany”.

Following on the footsteps of Brazil, Benin, Senegal, Kenya and Germany, Anelia Dimova, Information Society Policy Expert/ Information Technology Directorate, Ministry of Transport, Information Technology and Communications, announced that Bulgaria is taking up the national assessment of ROAM-X indicators. Its report will particularly focus on thematic areas such as transparency and public access to information.

Representing Tunisia, Argentina, Paraguay and Kenya, Kamel Rezgui, Maria Fernanda Martinez, Eduardo Carillo, Grace Githaiga highlighted that human rights and gender equality online and offline are not effectively protected by the national legal framework and law enforcements at national level. Sadaf Khan, Co-founder of Media Matters for Democracy, highlighted current challenges in such as the lack of transparency in the legal framework for the development of Internet in Pakistan.

Simon Ellis and Alexandre Barbosa, respectively leading the assessments in Thailand and Brazil and contributing theirexpertise as international advisors to the ROAM-X project, highlighted:  “The Internet Universality ROAM-X Indicators serve as a powerful tool for diagnosis of digital policy, relevant to all countries. They should become a standard, further contributing to applying human rights and universal values of the physical world into the digital world.”

Nashilongo Gervasius Nakale, representing Internet Society, expressed her eagerness to follow an inclusive approach for the creation of the Multistakeholder Advisory Board and the overall implementation of the ROAM-X principles in Namibia by next year

Shavkat Sabirov, President of the Internet Association of Kazakhstan, shared processes and methodology of the ongoing study in Kazakhstan. He stressed the relevance of the ROAM principles and indicators to assess the state of the national digital landscape post-COVID.  Sergey Karpov, National Programme Officer at UNESCO Almaty, presented trends and challenges in the Central Asia region. He underlined that the proposed regional priorities include inclusive knowledge societies, freedom of information and freedom of expression.

Marielza Oliveira, UNESCO CI’s Director for Partnerships and Operational Programme Monitoring re-iterated UNESCO’s continued support to the national implementation of ROAM-X indicators and pointed out that “ Internet Universality Indicators and the ROAM framework have been endorsed by UNESCO Member States. The number of new reports being developed shows that there is strong interest on the part of countries to voluntarily apply this global framework. As more reports are concluded, Members States and other stakeholders will also benefit from aggregated views that can provide insights at regional in addition to national levels”.  

The event was moderated by UNESCO focal point of ROAM-X, Xianhong Hu. She informed about future actions, including scaling up the national assessment of ROAM-X indicator to encompass additional countries, conducting a new round of global consultations to assess the impact of ROAM-X indicators, and updating the indicator framework to capture the latest developments of digital technologies and policies. These actions aim to better serve the needs of all Member States and stakeholders, for improving their digital ecosystems.