The Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SDNP) was a UNDP global program that ran between 1992 and 2004. SDNP’s core goal was to enhance access to sustainable development information on a multi-stakeholder basis using new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). Its scope of work was driven by Agenda 21, the sustainable development agenda endorsed by UN member countries at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
Agenda 21 was composed of forty chapters, organized under four separate headings. The very last chapter of the agenda called for increased access to information for decision-making as one of the means of implementation of the agenda. Adding to its approach the targets of chapters 27 (strengthening non-government organizations) and 37 (capacity building in developing countries), SDNP forged ahead exploring the role of new ICTs such as email and the Internet. The core idea was to develop local capacity and support local actors from all sectors to share and generate relevant information to enhance domestic policy and decision-making processes. Based on this approach, SDNP’s motto soon became known as the 3Cs: Connectivity, Capacity, and Content.
The programme was implemented on a country by country basis. However, unlike other UNDP programmes, the project required the involvement not only of government but also of a wide variety of local stakeholders who could be actively involved in its design and implementation from the onset. Furthermore, local governance mechanisms based on a multi-stakeholder approach were created to oversee the national project, giving equal voice and vote to each sectoral representative.
Another innovative feature of SDNP was its approach to project sustainability. Local stakeholders directly involved in project implementation were required from the very start to devise a medium-term business plan to ensure the initiative could be sustained once donor funds were exhausted. A portfolio of services and cost-recovery mechanisms were put in place taking into account the fact that the new ICTs being deployed offered tangible and quantifiable products -unlike other traditional development programmes.
SDPN spent considerable time building governance mechanisms, ensuring they were in place before project implementation started. Once in place, local actors had to agree on an open and independent venue that could host the project and effectively manage both stakeholder demands and the deployment of new technologies. The latter was completed after a thorough analysis of the local environment and always accompanied by substantial capacity building to ensure self-sustainability of the operation.
SDNP ended up supporting over sixty countries during its thirteen years of operations. A few selected initiatives started by the programme still survive today as either independent entities (Honduras) or as part of broader but related initiatives (Angola, Pakistan).
More details can be found on the documents listed below.
All files are in PDF format unless otherwise indicated.
Articles and Papers
SDNP INET 95 paper, http://www.isoc.org/inet95/proceedings/PAPER/119/txt/paper.txt
SDNP Status, 1994, http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Padis/telmatics_Raul.html. An edited version is here.
Selected Success Examples
Selected Project Documents