The government of Canada is working with IBM technology to sponsor a global online dialogue on urban sustainability called “Habitat JAM.”
Under the auspices of UN-Habitat, the Canadians are hosting a 3 day virtual conference from December 1-3 that seeks to turn “ideas into action on critical issues related to urban sustainability” through engaging and empowering people of all stripes in a virtual town hall meeting.
Certainly a noble goal. But one has to wonder (1) who will show up, (2) what can be accomplished in three days and (3) what will change as a result.
The “Habitat JAM” is a preparatory event to the third session of the World Urban Forum being held in Vancouver in June 2006. The World Urban Forum is an initiative of UN-HABITAT held every two years to debate ideas and issues about sustainable development in today’s context of rapid urbanization. Topics for discussion will include improving the lives of people living in slums, access to water, environmental sustainability, safety and security, finance and governance, and the future of our cities.
What’s interesting about the “Habitat JAM” is the unique collaboration among a government agency (Canadian Ministry of Labour), a private company (IBM), an international organization (UN-Habitat) and NGOs to create this event. The official press release explains how the various actors are contributing:
0. World Bank Institute to offer access to many of their satellite-based Global Development Learning Network (GDLN) to enable people living in regions with inadequate or no Internet access to participate in the Habitat JAM.
0. Huairou Commission and GROOTS Canada to bring the voice of non-English speaking women into the Habitat JAM.
0. World Urban Forum and Youth Organizing Committee (WUFY) who will hold over a dozen World Urban Cafe JAM Sessions to engage communities in slums and impoverished human settlements in Asia, Africa, India and Latin America.
0. IBM to offer their internal “JAM” collaboration software
They certainly have an interesting mix in there. I will certainly log in to see how it goes. We’ll see who shows up with me…