I received an informal request from UNDP’s post-2015 team to submit a short proposal on ICTs and governance. While it is not yet clear what kind of activities the post-2015 UNDG project will be funding, one of the ideas that have been floating around is to support concrete on the ground projects -but hopefully not pilots.
Below is the draft proposal I submitted which in essence builds on the stuff we have been talking about for the last 2 years or so. After sending the proposal, I got quick feedback from the team saying that “everyone is now working on the data revolution.” I had to clarify that our proposal is not about data but rather focuses on empower peoples and having their voices heard in decision-making processes. OK, maybe this sounds a bit too “old-fashioned”…
New ICTs and Participation:
fostering inclusive governance
The rapid diffusion of new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) is bringing new ways of effectively delivering development assistance and enhancing human development. According to the latest estimates, more than six billion people in the world have access to a mobile device, 85% of them living in developing countries. New opportunities for innovative approaches to address traditional development gaps are now emerging. Social innovators are mainly playing a significant role by capitalizing on these developments and offering solutions and applications that directly respond to the realities and needs of local communities.
Internet access is also growing in developing countries. Close to 30% of the 2.7 billion Internet users access the global internetwork from such countries. Social networks have indeed become the platform of choice for the emerging middle-classes in middle-income countries who are now widely expressing their views while making demands on both the public and the private sector.
The “democratization” of the access to new ICTs has given voice to those who had none before. The new ICTs thus provide new opportunities to enhance the participation of people in policy and decision-making processes in a sustained fashion at the local and global levels. The Arab Spring, the widespread use of crowd-sourcing to tackle issues related to human rights, electoral processes, violence against women and corruption, and the MyWorld global survey are good examples of how the new technologies are fostering participation and empowering people all around the globe
Building on both the work UNDP has done on e-participation for the last few years and on the results of the post-2105 national consultations, the project aims at deploying new ICTs to empower stakeholders and people to have a distinct voice in governance processes and thus be part and parcel of local decision-making processes that can have direct impact on their lives.
More specifically, the project will be supporting the networking, and institutional mechanisms that need to be in place to ensure the participation of stakeholders in such processes and that will provide long term resilience. It will also be supporting innovative ways in which stakeholders, innovators, and governments can better work together to enhance democracy and foster social inclusion.
Enhancing the participation of non-state actors in key governance processes will both deepen democracy and facilitate their engagement in more effective fashion with governments, thus accelerating the achievement of development goals and targets. It is essential to bear in mind that governments have a pivotal role to play here in terms of policy development, public investment allocations and scalability and replicability of governance innovations on a national scale.
In its first phase, the project will piggyback on ongoing governance and conflict prevention programmes that UNDP and other UN agencies are currently undertaking. Analysis on current UNDP portfolios in these areas indicates that most of the current projects are not making use of new ICTs and are thus missing an excellent opportunity to enhance delivery of results and maximize on the ground impact. Also, the outputs of the national consultations will be used here as a second entry point to identify themes and issues that stakeholder and governments have already identified as priorities.
Working with UNDP country offices, local governments, local CSO networks, and telecommunication providers, the project will:
- Deploy an e-participation/ICT platform (where none exists) that can also allow users with basic mobile phones to participate in the process; if a platform exists it will then be upgraded to include latest features and off-line access
- Partner with local innovators and local governments to tackle local priorities
- Build capacity of both state and non-state actors to use new technologies, interact with each other and learn to work together around common issues and problems
- Support and incubate local innovators who are already providing new solutions and apps to local communities but who have yet to get the attention of local governments
- Support the development of open data and e-petition platforms in terms of both policies and platforms while ensuring that mobile applications that facilitate access to data and petitions are also available to stakeholders
- Ensure that women and youth are targeted explicitly as crucial constituencies of the project
- Explore ways in which those who have no access to the new ICTs and/or are not connected are also taken into account
- Support the institutional processes that will mainstream non-state voices and participation in policy and decision-making processes
- Advise governments on how to deploy state of the art platforms to capture people’s voices, can analyze and synthesize information and data and respond to citizens demands in effective fashion
- Use ICTs, and particularly mobile technologies to have active monitor and evaluation processes throughout the project
Scope and Budget
The project will initially focus on 20 countries distributed within the five regions UNDP supports. Country selection will be completed in consultations with UNCT teams, and UNDP COs and Regional Bureaux. Selection criteria will be drafted by the project team. Innovation, governance, and participation will be key here.
The estimated average budget per country is of 250,000 USD for a total of 5 million which will be disbursed within 18 months. This amount includes the costs for project design, project evaluation and on the ground impact as well as the elaboration of comparative analytical reports for all projects where lessons learned and good and bad practices will be captured,
The second phase of the project will build on the overall assessment of the first phase which might include revisiting the original analytical framework and objectives while introducing innovations that will undoubtedly occur during the implementation of the first phase.