A common meta-theme was the problem of how to “manage the expectations” of participants given the Forum’s novelty and its ambiguous status as a governance institution. Participants agreed that Forum attendees, especially developing countries, should return from Athens feeling that something useful occurred, but opinions varied on what counted as worthwhile. Forum “doves” claimed that they would be happy if the participants benefited from the networking that takes place, acquired new knowledge of best practices, and formed new networks and communities of interest. Forum “hawks” tended to characterize the Forum as a way to achieve visibility for new, pressing issues that are not receiving enough attention in international circles, and urged it to embrace rather than avoid the unfinished business of WSIS and serve as a place for critical assessment of international institutions involved in ICT governance.
Call me a hawk, then. I know, of course, that this is the prevalent view, but what exactly is the point of another talk-shop when there are in fact real issues for which the governance of an international multi-stakeholder body is needed? To twist a phrase, if the IGF did not exist, it would be necessary for us to invent it.