[Read more session reports from the WSIS Forum 2018]
Mr Malcolm Johnson, deputy secretary-general of the ITU, opened the session by reminding the audience that this year marks the 15th anniversary of the first World Summit (held in Switzerland in 2003) and the 3rd anniversary of the Word Café series. He affirmed that such an event allows for a deeper reflection on past achievements and future practices, fostering the use of technology for the good of mankind. He continued by considering that the very first WSIS prize was awarded in 2012 and winners had had the chance to get support from their respective governments to further implement their ideas. He concluded by reminding the audience that WSIS is now paying close attention to the use of technology in achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs).
Mr Vladimir Stankovic, policy analyst at WSIS, affirmed that the WSIS prize was established with the goal of sharing and collecting best practices from around the world. One of the existing challenges concerns following up and collecting data about the implementation of winning projects. He then stated that the prize was initially established in 2011 and WSIS activities were later aligned with the SDG agenda adopted in 2015. A successful component of these projects is to assess to what extent their aim contributes to the achievement of the SDGs.
The discussion was then divided into three parts.
In the first place, it focused on how previous winning projects were perceived in their respective countries and how progress has been implemented. The following projects were presented:
MuktoPaath is an e-learning platform improving skills and professional development in the Bangla language. Since its launch, 10 000 journalists and 260 000 teachers have received professional skills-based training through blended learning. Trainees can sit for theoretical lessons from wherever they want, accessing both online and offline content, allowing for minimum disruption to their social and professional life. Moreover, MUktoPaath has made it easier for migrant workers in Pakistan to learn technical skills.
Radio MENQ was awarded a WSIS prize in 2017. The project consists of the creation of an Internet radio station by Armenians with visual impairments. The aim is to increase outreach and allow those with visual impairments to access information. Since its establishment, the programme has allowed for some members of the Armenian visually impaired community to be awarded with fellowships and scholarships. The project has expanded to 12 communities within Armenia and has also attracted interest from some in the United States.
Tambo is a news media platform informing positive stories across the world to Indonesian citizens, covering news about travel, culinary trends, fashion, and entertainment.
A roundtable session with small break-out groups composed of prize winners brainstormed best practices to share. The outcome discussion highlighted the following:
The necessity for WSIS to create a platform, a ‘hub’, that would allow prize winners to share their projects, ideas, and practices, i.e., to foster knowledge sharing among the champions. Many of the current success stories have been implemented at local level and are also implementable at regional and global levels, too.
The central role of communication both top-down (from the ITU towards the governments of partner countries) and bottom-up, thanks to the active role of champions within their own countries.
WSIS is now making the most of the information and content available in all six official UN languages. In addition, champions could take up a mentoring role towards perspective applicants, making sure that applications are correctly submitted.
Development of a solid network is needed allowing for long-term sustainability of the winning projects.
The session concluded with the presentation of three winning projects from the 2018 competition.
Indonesiabaik.id: a governmental portal in Indonesia for viral-able public policy communication aimed at delivering and communicating governmental information in a way that is easy to understand and ready to share.
Info-highway: a project aimed at providing a secure, scalable, and robust e-services platform for the citizens of Mauritius. Such a platform is designed to facilitate the exchange and consumption of data among different government agencies in order to foster efficiency in public administration.
SALUD 3.0: a digitalisation project in the health sector implemented by the government of San Luis in Argentina. This project resorts to digital tools to reduce the information gap regarding specific regions in government agencies.
By Marco Lotti