Weekly Update: 17 February

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Had a late conference call with UNDP Guatemala on Tuesday evening. It seems the new government, which is led by retired army officers, is very interested on e-governance and FOSS. The government has just crated a new Ministry which will focus on transparency while also having some comptroller functions. The head of the new Ministry had previously approached UNDP asking for assistance on FOSS and e-governance. The Ministry of Government (or Interior) seems to be ahead of the rest as it has already deployed a series or systems (including biometric technologies) to beef up security  and with the help of the US government. We are however not sure how they related to the newly created Ministry. A conference call with the head of the new Ministry is being scheduled for next week.

I got a hold of the consultant that wrote the independent evaluation for SDNP a few years ago. My idea here is to update the report in the light of the recent developments of ICTs (Web 2.0, Arab Spring, etc) and assess who different today’s context is from that of the 1990s. I am aware that very similar arguments about the power of the new technologies was made  back then and, as we now know, not much changed other than a boom and a quick crach of the tech sector and the amazing growth of inequality on a global scale. The revised report will be printed and brought to Rio as one of UNDP’s contributions.

It seems we have finally found some common (and solid) ground to work with BCPR. The bureau has now endorsed the use of crowdsourcing technologies for their current work. They are also in touch with USAID and IPI to do a large study on the relevance and potential impact of these technologies on conflict prevention. We have agreed with BCPR to support this research, create more formal links between the two divisions, explore the launching of a new Global Programme on mobile technologies, and organize a joint CoP before the end of this year.

We had a meeting with the Director of PG and one staffer who are facilitation the recently launched UN Partnership to Promote the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNPRPD, a mouth full indeed!). UNPRPD, which includes six UN agencies, has a multi-donor trust fund that so far has received close to 8 million USD. They are currently identifying priority areas (some related to governance such as justice, elections, parliaments and NHRIs). I brought up the issue of ICTs and e-accessability and used as an example the regional project we are funding in the Balkans and which covers 9 countries (see brief here  PWDs-balkans-egov -project. The policy group of the partnership will be deciding on the final priority areas. The draft strategic framework and the workplan are here: UNPRPD – SOF – Draft 2 and UNPRPD WP 2012-2013 – Draft 1. This is a cross-cutting are where we can do some good work.

The post-2015 agenda keeps getting busier and complicated. Not that I expected otherwise.

Cheers, Raúl

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