June 2004

GKP Annual Meeting

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Did the recent 'cyber summit' really advance the cause of the emerging information society?

Can we realistically talk of a digital dividend when a majority of humankind has no easy or regular access to information and communications technologies, or ICTs?

Which ICTs can be strategically used to reduce poverty, enhance quality of life and increase sharing of knowledge worldwide?

Who governs the Internet, on what basis and how does that affect free flow of information and issues of global equality?

Five months after the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) ended in Geneva, Switzerland, a recent meeting of governments, civil society, private companies, donors and UN agencies addressed these and other key questions.

The occasion was the seventh Annual Meeting of the Global Knowledge Partnership (GKP) held in San Jose, Costa Rica, from 13 to 14 May 2004. Attended by more than 100 representatives from GKP member organizations and specially invited guests, the meeting both looked back at the recent Geneva summit, and looked forward to its next phase to be held in Tunis, Tunisia, in November 2005.

The meeting, hosted by the Omar Dengo Foundation (FOD) of Costa Rica, was declared opened by the Vice-President of Costa Rica, Madam Lineth Saborio Chaverri.

GKP annual meetings are a lot more than a business meeting of this worldwide network of organizations committed to harnessing the potential of ICTs for sustainable and equitable development. Participants engaged in wide ranging discussions and debates on core issues and concerns shaping the information society.

Says Rinalia Abdul Rahim, Executive Director of the GKP: “There was certainly a great deal of information and experience sharing, which always happens at our meetings. But the GKP is a network that is more than the sum of its parts. We were able to discuss broader issues of ICT policy and practice from a variety of perspectives.”

The meeting sessions focused on eight thematic areas of the GKP: Multi-stakeholder Partnerships; Poverty Reduction; Youth; Gender; Financing; Media; Internet Governance; and Local Content, Indigenous Knowledge and Intellectual Property Rights. Participants also discussed the many outcomes of the ICT4D Platform, the single largest parallel event of the WSIS in Geneva, which GKP co-organised with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

This was the first time that the GKP held its annual meeting in the Americas. The meeting was preceded by a day-long event that focused on ICTs in the Latin America and Caribbean region, with several practitioners and researchers from the region making presentations.

Participants reflected the multi-stakeholder composition and philosophy of the Partnership. Overall, 92 participants from 40 countries attended (excluding specially-invited guests) of whom 22 came from the Latin America and the Caribbean region.

Eight new organizations were admitted to GKP membership during this meeting, bringing the total membership to 95. The membership currently consists of organisations from North America (8), Europe (9), Eastern Europe (3), Asia (34), Africa (6), Middle East and North Africa (4), Oceania (6), and Latin America and the Caribbean(9), with a total of 16 members being international organizations.

The GKP's governing body, the Executive Committee, which began its two-year term in May 2004, also held its first meeting in San Jose prior to the Annual Meeting. It comprises: Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) – Switzerland (Chair), Association for Progressive Communication (APC), International Development Research Centre (IDRC), M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), MIMOS Berhad, Omar Dengo Foundation (FOD), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and Young Asia Television (YATV).

The Global Knowledge Partnership (GKP) is a worldwide network committed to harnessing the potential of information and communication technology (ICT)

for sustainable and equitable development having the head-office at Kuala Lumpur.



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