ICT policy strategies and common objectives in Latin America and the Caribbean
MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY, 27 December 2004
Through its Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Policy Monitor for Latin America and the Caribbean, APC held a workshop on ICT policy strategies in Rosario, Argentina, which was attended by the Latin American members of APC, as well as important organisations from the region involved in the subject. “The workshop was aimed at stimulating organisations to work collaboratively with their peers in the region and jointly assume political commitments for collective action,” explained Valeria Betancourt, the ICT Policy Monitor Coordinator, to APCNews.
The citizens as well as the organisations that want to ensure that GenderIT.org. ">internetcontinues to be a tool and an opportunity to promote social and environmental justice and gender equality are faced with many challenges when they try to navigate the global, regional and national seas of governance, policy and internet regulation. Often, they are unaware of the issues on the agenda, who is participating in the discussions and making the decisions, how their own work could be affected and how to become involved.
A real demand and need exist in most of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean for the governments and other stakeholders to establish and promote information and communication technology (ICT) policies –hence their regulatory and legal frameworks- for conditions to be set and for favourable environments to be strengthened for the effective, massive and egalitarian use of ICT for social, economic and political development.
“This implies a need for a solid and deliberate articulation of the efforts, resources and actions of the civil society organisations that are involved in a variety of ICT policy aspects at different levels (national, regional or global),” explained Valeria Betancourt, Coordinator of the ICT Policy Monitor for Latin America and the Caribbean. It is through this APC Project that a Workshop on ICT Policy Strategy was held on 6-7 December 2004 in Rosario, Argentina. It was attended by APC’s members in Latin América.
The purpose of the workshop was to strengthen the alliances and mutual collaboration between regional civil society organizations to lobby for favourable political environments at a national and regional level, by identifying the key facets and issues of ICT policy and the definition of common perspectives and positions regarding these.
The meeting included sessions on the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), free trade agreements and their impact on information communication technologies, and other key regional ICT features and issues, such as telecentres, community media, among others. At the same time, spaces were defined for the real articulation of civil society vis-à-vis processes like those of the WSIS, CRIS (regional and national), the World Social Forum, from which agreements and strategies were progressively defined to collaborate and future actions, both at the regional and global level.
“The workshop was an opportunity to make the need to impulse a convergence evident,” said Valeria, “not only the work of the organisations dedicated to promote ICT as support tools for development, but of the different social movements that position their struggle not as something specifically related to ICT, but rather relating to other critical areas that are critical to human and social development.” Among these, Valeria mentioned movements in favour of human rights, cultural diversity, environmental protection and against the indiscriminate opening of markets, to name a few.
Among the agreements reached is the formation of working groups around the processes or specific areas to strengthen the ability of civil society organisations to influence ICT policy.
“The decisions taken at the workshop are positive in the sense that they confirm the interest and willingness of the organisations to jointly collaborate and they defined some of the specific mechanisms to generate the appropriate conditions to affect ICT policy, particularly in global and regional processes that ultimately impact the national spheres and environments; as is the case of the WSIS and the UNESCO’s Cultural Diversity Convention process.”
The workshop included participants from important organisations in the region involved in the subject, such as: ESLARED, AMARC-ALC, ITDG-LAC, IIJusticia, Fundación Acceso, ALER, Funredes, CRIS, WACC, S@T, OCLACC, CRIS Colombia y CRIS Brazil. Donor representatives that have demonstrated a constant interest n the development of ICT policy also attended: the Canadian Internacional Development Research Center (IDRC) and the Dutch group, Hivos.
Each member of APC in Latin America sent representatives, many of which have been actively working at the regional level, and in the case of the Third World Institute (Uruguay), at a global level on the subject.
APC’s work on ICT policy
APC is implementing ICT policy projects nationally and internationally through its Communication and Information Policy Programme (CIPP). Said programme is aimed at increasing awareness and offering capacity building, tools and information to re-enforce civil society’s participation in the decision making process. APC has taken advantage of international events, such as the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) to generate greater awareness about ICT issues among civil society. However, its ultimate objective is to obtain participation in the formulation of ICT policy at the national level.
The information and communication policy programme activities, as well as those of the women’s programme, correspond to APC’s strategic priorities for the 2004-2007 period: strengthen the role and the commitment of APC and civil society organizations in the ICT policy processes.
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