Archive: UNESCO’s Past Activities on Transport & Communication (i.e. pre-January 2005)
If our present era is one of a revolution in information technology and networks, then communication systems are of special importance to island societies – for informing and educating, for catalysing and monitoring, for generating income and reinforcing self-reliance.
Indeed, new information and communication technologies (ICTs) have considerably increased people’s capacity to access information and to share experience and practices with others in almost any part of the world, owing to their potential to break down social and geographic obstacles to an efficient and time- and cost-effective communication.
The potential of new ICTs to foster economic growth, facilitate capacity-building and knowledge-sharing is particularly important in the case of small-island communities, where development is hampered by dispersed populations, lack of resources and isolation. Already, ICTs actively contribute to:
- Opening up government, making it more transparent and accountable, and thereby increasing public trust in government, reducing overall corruption and promoting core democratic values;
- Facilitating the creation of community networks and reinforcing participatory approaches and good governance;
- Strengthening cooperation between stakeholders to ensure good governance, to develop the private sector and to improve service delivery;
- Developing new forms of citizen participation, with online forums, use net groups and web-based chat sites facilitating open political discussion that would be difficult to sustain in print media.
Furthermore, in respect to one of the core problems in many small islands (that of migration and brain drain), ICTs can play a major role in binding the transnational diaspora communities with their countries of origin, facilitating new and efficient economic networks in both host and home countries and increasing the sense of identity and belonging to a greater ‘transnational’ community. However, to use technologies wisely, communication infrastructures must be adapted to the needs and aspirations of the islanders and to the objectives as defined by them.
Within UNESCO, ICTs for development represented a major programme area as well as a priority cross-cutting theme during the period 2002-2003. In all the fields of competence of UNESCO, ICTs have opened up new horizons for progress and the exchange of knowledge, education and training, and for the promotion of creativity and intercultural dialogue. Within this framework, four strategic objectives were pursued:
- Agreeing on common principles for the construction of knowledge societies;
- Enhancing learning opportunities through access to diversified contents and delivery systems;
- Strengthening capacities for scientific research, information-sharing and cultural exchanges;
- Promoting the use of ICTs for capacity-building, empowerment, governance and social participation.
Not surprisingly, examples of the application of ICTs to small-island challenges can be found throughout this report as well as featuring centrally in the section on communication and information. The following paragraphs present a handful of illustrations of how ICTs are transforming the opportunities for small-island development and essentially act as a ‘trailer’ for more extensive and additional examples later on.
In flagging some aspects of UNESCO’s past work in the field of Communications and Information related to small islands, it should be stressed that activities are continuing in many of these domains.
- Infoyouth Programme:
Focuses on the introduction of young people to new information and communication technology skills, particularly in marginalized communities and post-conflict zones. More info >> Go to website
- International Telecommunication Union (ITU):
International organization within the United Nations system where governments and the private sector coordinate global telecom networks and services. Currently, ITU has leading managerial role in the Executive Secretariat for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). More info >> Go to website
- This is Our Time:
Annual, global communications project for secondary schools initiated for the UNESCO Associated Schools Project Network (ASPnet). More info >> Go to website
- UNESCO Portals:
An array of services are available to members of professional communities in the area of communication and information, including portals on Libraries, Archives and Free Software, as well as an Observatory on the Information Society. More info >> Go to website
The web-site of UNESCO’s Communication and Information Sector, providing access to news and technical studies in the public domain and hosting web-sites of libraries and archives in developing countries. More info >> Go to website
- WebWorld Site on the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS):
UNESCO web-site on the WSIS, with description of UNESCO involvement in the WSIS process, including hosting at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris in July 2003 of an intersessional meeting for the WSIS. More info >> Go to website
- World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS):
Official site for the World Summit operated by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), including information on events leading up to the two summit meetings in Geneva (December 2003) and Tunis (November 2005). More info >> Go to website
- Global Survey on Online Governance - by UNESCO and COMNET-IT. Joint research initiative to explore the interaction between access, empowerment and governance in 62 countries. More
- Integrating ICTs in Education: Lessons Learned - by UNESCO Asia and Pacific Bureau for Education, Bangkok. Collective case study of six Asian countries (including Singapore), with findings and recommendations likely to be of interest to individuals and institutions in SIDS. More
- Small Islands Voice: Laying the Foundations - by UNESCO
Assessment of initial activities carried out in 2002 within the Small Islands Voice initiative, and proposals for 2003. Based on inter-regional workshop held in Palau in November 2002. More
- Media Education in the Pacific. A Guide for Secondary School Teachers - by UNESCO-Apia. Launched at a workshop in Fiji in June 2003. More
- Draft Recommendation concerning the Promotion and Use of Multilingualism and Universal Access to Cyberspace - by UNESCO-CI/INF
Sets of recommendations related to the development of multilingual content, public domain content and universal access to information. More
- Survey on Internet Infrastructure and E-Governance in Pacific Islands - by Zwimpfer Communications Ltd Commissioned by UNESCO-Apia, the survey identifies 11 major barriers inhibiting e-governance. More
- Country Profiles of E-Governance - by UNESCO and COMNET-IT
Study of 15 country abstracts (including Jamaica and Mauritius), representing different situations in each of UNESCO's principal regions. More
- Electronic Connectedness in Pacific Island Countries - by Zwimpfer Communications Ltd Survey on the use of computers, e-mail and the Internet in education, culture and communication. More