Doing some more thinking on the concept of a “Global Alliance for ICT Policy Development,” which will be discussed next week by the UN ICT Task Force in Ireland. The real issue is: how does one create a body to ensure that governments integrate ICTs into their development agendas and that the private sector and civil society participate?
The main intent of traditional global Commissions following UN summits is to provide a forum for governments to come together periodically to report on their progress in achieving the goals the committed to at the Summit. NGOs traditionally attend the commission meetings to express their own views on how governments are doing, to network with each other and to promote their own projects related to the issue area.
While the Commission process has done much to promote continued NGO participation in the UN system and been an important vehicle for promoting our ideas and proposals, there are definite disadvantages as well. Notably, Commissions are often weak mechanisms for getting governments to comply with their own commitments. NGOs often are lost among the hundreds of groups that show up. And the meetings are expensive and difficult for groups in the developing world to attend.
The purpose of the Global Alliance – to promote ICTs to achieve the UN development agenda — will require a much more concerted effort to get governments, in partnership with civil society and the private sector, to create sound policies to implement this integrated vision. An annual report to a Commission meeting is not enough.
One possibility is for the Global Alliance to establish a central online observatory on how governments around the world are doing on achieving the WSIS and MDG goals. Government provided data would be presented alongside international monitoring and reporting bodies like UNDP and the World Bank. NGOs and the private sector could present their own reports on what is happening on the ground and their recommendations for governments. Thus year-round, there would be an ongoing monitoring and reporting website where anyone could examine where various regions were at and see where more concerted action was needed.
Once a year, the Global Alliance could convene in one of the developing regions of the world (Asia, Africa, Latin America, Central / Eastern Europe) to bring concerted attention and support to the unique problems and issues of that region. Emphasis at the meeting would be capacity building for government policy makers, NGO activists, and business entrepreneurs in the region to jumpstart development using ICTs.