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Growing the Internet

Internet Society crea un informe sobre los pequeños Estados insulares en desarrollo

Hoy hemos publicado un informe sobre los Pequeños Estados Insulares en Desarrollo (SIDS) porque sabemos que este informe puede aumentar las discusiones en el Foro de la CMSI en Ginebra y más allá!

El Foro de la CMSI ofrece una excelente oportunidad para destacar cuestiones clave de desarrollo y acceso a medida que colegas y amigos se reúnen para discutir cómo la conectividad ayuda a superar las divisiones digitales, estimula la innovación, permite que el comercio, la salud, las familias permanezcan en estrecho contacto y la preservación del patrimonio y la cultura locales. A medida que las discusiones en Ginebra se dirigen a “cómo lograr” los objetivos de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo Sostenible, sabemos que el “negocio como siempre” tiene que cambiar. Vea nuestra Declaración del Vicepresidente de Compromiso Global de la Sociedad de Internet, Raúl Echeberria, sobre el papel que todos desempeñamos para llenar las lagunas de conectividad y permitir que las comunidades se conecten, aprovechando la tecnología para el desarrollo.

¿Por qué centrarse en los pequeños Estados insulares en desarrollo?

Los pequeños Estados insulares en desarrollo son un grupo distinto de países en desarrollo que se caracterizan por vulnerabilidades como resultado de la geografía, sus pequeñas poblaciones, su limitada base de exportaciones, su mayor exposición a las perturbaciones económicas mundiales y los frecuentes desastres naturales. Muchos pequeños Estados insulares en desarrollo se enfrentan a dificultades con la conectividad a Internet debido a su lejanía y al elevado costo de cruzar los mares abiertos. Cuando se combinan estos factores con poblaciones pequeñas y economías de escala reducidas, mayores costos de conectividad y retos resultan en una absorción tardía.

La publicación de este informe coincide también con el 25º aniversario de la Conferencia de las Naciones Unidas sobre el Medio Ambiente y el Desarrollo de Río de Janeiro, en la que se reconoció a los pequeños Estados insulares en desarrollo como un grupo distinto de países con desafíos únicos para el desarrollo sostenible.

¿Qué exploramos en este informe?

Exploramos el impacto sanitario, financiero y educativo de la conectividad mejorada y los desafíos para mejorarla, incluyendo aspectos económicos, de acceso, sociales, culturales y ambientales. Y, echemos un vistazo a cómo los puntos de intercambio de Internet (IXPs), Wifi, y las tecnologías emergentes pueden proporcionar oportunidades para mejorar la conectividad y el desarrollo de la red local. Hacemos recomendaciones para mejorar los entornos normativos y normativos, examinando detenidamente seis (6) países a través de estudios de casos: Cabo Verde, Comoras, Haití, San Vicente y las Granadinas, Tonga y Vanuatu.

El cambio local sucede con los héroes locales

Este informe subraya la importancia del diálogo para el desarrollo sostenible local y la acción que los encargados de formular las políticas, los reguladores, las empresas, los asociados internacionales y los actores locales pueden adoptar para cerrar las brechas de conectividad. Creemos que las soluciones locales y las nuevas asociaciones para conectar a las comunidades son críticas. Las comunidades son la nueva “primera milla”. Busquemos maneras de conectarlas

Agradecemos sus comentarios sobre este informe y esperamos con interés cualquier estudio de casos o historias que quiera compartir con nosotros. A través de asociaciones y al capacitar a la población local, podemos conectar más personas, mejorar la vida de las personas y crear oportunidades socioeconómicas.

Nota: Estamos muy agradecidos a Mike Jensen y Michael Minges por su trabajo en este informe y la comunidad global de expertos que revisaron y proporcionaron información para este informe.

Lea el reporte

Categories
Growing the Internet

Internet Society Launches Small Island Developing States Report

Today, we released a report on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) because we know that this report can augment discussions at the WSIS Forum in Geneva and beyond!

The WSIS Forum provides an excellent opportunity to highlight key development and access issues as colleagues and friends gather to discuss how connectivity helps to bridge digital divides, spurs innovation, enables trade, healthcare, families to stay in close contact with each other, and preservation of local heritage and culture.  As discussions in Geneva turn to “how to” achieve UN Sustainable Development Goal objectives, we know that “business as usual” has to change. See our Statement from the Internet Society’s VP of Global Engagement, Raul Echeberria, on the role we all play to fill in connectivity gaps and to enable communities to connect themselves, taking advantage of technology for development.

Why focus on Small Island Developing States?

Small Island Developing States are a distinct group of developing countries that are characterized by vulnerabilities as a result of geography, their small populations, limited export base, higher exposure to global economic disruptions, and frequent natural disasters. Many Small Island Developing States face challenges with Internet connectivity due to their remoteness and the high cost of crossing open seas. When you combine these factors with small populations and low economies of scale, higher connectivity costs and challenges result in delayed uptake.

The release of this report also coincides with the 25th anniversary of the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, where Small Island Developing States were recognized as a distinct group of countries with unique challenges for sustainable development.

What do we explore in this report?

We explore the health, financial, and educational impact of improved connectivity and the challenges for improving it, including economic, access, social, cultural, and environmental issues. And, we take a look at how internet exchange points (IXPs), Wifi, and emerging technologies can provide opportunities for improved connectivity and local network development. We make recommendations for improved policy and regulatory environments, looking closely at six (6) countries through case studies:  Cape Verde, Comoros, Haiti, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tonga, and Vanuatu.

Local change happens with local heroes

This report stresses the importance of dialogue for local sustainable development and action that policymakers, regulators, business, international partners, and local actors can take to close connectivity gaps.  We believe that local solutions and new partnerships to connect communities are critical.  Communities are the new “first mile.” Let’s find ways to connect them.

We welcome your feedback on this report and look forward to any case studies or stories you would like to share with us.  Through partnerships and by empowering local people we can connect more people, improve people’s lives, and create socioeconomic opportunities.

Note:  We are extremely grateful to Mike Jensen and Michael Minges for their work on this report and the global community of experts who reviewed and provided input to this report.

Read the report.

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Growing the Internet

Keeping Small Island Developing States in the Discussion

It can be sometimes easy to forget about what we term Small Island Developing States (SIDS) especially when looked at on an individual basis. Officially, SIDS were defined by the United Nations more than 20 years ago as low-lying coastal countries with similar challenges in terms of development and resources, and, perhaps most relevant to this space, also with challenges in providing affordable communication access and networks to their residents.

Many SIDS individually are fairly small in terms of population and economy, and sometimes outsiders can see their lack of connectivity as a plus if they are looking to vacation, unplug and “get away from it all” in exotic places such as the Seychelles or Maldives. However, that masks the larger fact that SIDS are thriving economies and Internet contributors waiting for their chance to be heard and get involved.

SIDS are actually a topic quite near and dear to me – my family comes from Fiji, and I have seen first hand the profound impact that improved access has had on that country’s development and economy. It’s part of the reason that I’ve spent a good part of my career championing development in remote areas, especially in the Pacific Islands, as well parts of Asia. But more than that, I’m consistently impressed and inspired by what SIDS bring to the table, and what the wider world can learn from them.

Together SIDS make up some 63 million people, which is not insignificant, with an economic impact of $575.3 billion, and they tend to punch well above their weight on Internet issues (and dare I say in sports also dear to me, including cricket and rugby!).

Here are a couple of their challenges and approaches that immediately come to mind that we can all perhaps learn a little from:

  • Specific Issues, Specific Solutions. Most often SIDS are dealing with network and connectivity issues in a “real-life now” format, rather than trying to dwell on future market opportunities and predict long-term growth. So they are more adept at solving issues quickly and practically for the here and now, though it’s important for them to also to keep an eye on what may affect things some years down the road. Small market sizes (with often limited consumer spending power) require specific solutions that address  their specific issues.
  • Accounting for Environmental Factors. We just saw a number of SIDS state their cases at the UN Climate Change Summit in New York several weeks back, and the fact remains that these nations are much more vulnerable to ongoing environmental changes we are seeing from global warming. Therefore, these countries need to have technical solutions that take environmental factors into account – be it rainfall levels and flooding, the ever-present  seasonal hurricanes or the potential of earthquakes (which may not even occur nearby) and resulting tsunamis which can have devastating impact on low-lying areas.
  • More Island-Wide/Country-Wide Solutions. Because SIDS are usually quite sparsely populated, they tend to need to work together to come up with solutions and share best practices; and often these tend to be for the whole island rather than a single area or customer base. These present great challenges sometimes given distances, terrain, cost and other factors, and require different models and approaches to be effective. Having worked with the telecommunications sector in the Pacific for a number of years in the early part of my career, one thing I learned very quickly was for the need to be highly resourceful – minimum resources, maximum output – and to just make things work!

Some of the most active chapters in the Internet Society are actually SIDS — the Pacific Islands Chapter (covering 22 countries and territories) and the Trinidad and Tobago Chapter come to mind as good examples – and in watching these countries, there’s a great deal we can learn. They represent the very virtues of the Internet Society – from community-based collaborative efforts to advocating for affordable access and connectivity to sharing best practices – in order to ensure the Internet truly is available to everyone.

Categories
Growing the Internet Internet Governance Technology

IGF 2014: Small Island States Bring Big Issues to the Table

Is the Internet more important than clean water supply or transport infrastructure? These and other specific concerns were raised at the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) roundtable, where stakeholders from Pacific and Carribean countries gathered to discuss barriers to connectivity in countries with very limited resources.

One fundamental challenge is prioritisation. As island nations confront the looming perils of climate change while still trying to overcome longstanding problems–lack of safe drinking water, electricity, proper sewage treatment–Internet connectivity may inevitably get sidelined in favour of what states deem as the broader and more pressing needs of basic development. It has been argued that ICTs may just alleviate the bigger socio-economic concerns faced by developing countries, but in the global drive to create knowledge economies, delegates at the rountable could not help but ask whether the information society can indeed fulfill its promise to make a significant impact on social and environmental ills.

Sustainability is another dilemma. Groups which work on ICT development, such as Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific members, tend to rely on donor funding. Grants and loans may last only for two to three years, from which time projects could be stalled or discontinued due to lack of financial, technical and even human resources. These limitations are aggravated by what participants from the Carribean called a ‘lack of elbow room’.  With a number of governments tied to the conditionalities of multilateral funding agencies, the policy space to more readily address Internet-related issues is further restricted. Delegates for instance recognised immense progress in broadband infrastructure rollouts in the Pacific but there are, they lamented, very few efforts to ensure that the Internet becomes affordable, especially for those whom connectivity would be an important enabler.

But it is not all gloom and doom for small island nations. States can look to countries like Fiji and Vanuatu, which have both made great strides in developing universal access policies that seek to bring more marginalised communities online. Governments could make further improvements by revising their telecommunications–specifically spectrum–policies to encourage the set-up of community-based wireless networks and interconnection among service providers. Meanwhile, inter-sectoral dialogues could help policymakers better understand the concrete ways by which ICT tools and infrastructure can bring developmental benefits. These can be further underlined by initially focusing on areas that, as one participant noted, get the ‘maximum bang for the buck’–initiatives which can demonstrate even small successes and show governments that they work.

What small island states need and what they are calling for, most of all, are more partnerships—more groups, businesses and individuals who they can collaborate with for solutions which suit unique contexts—and greater inquisitiveness from the wider Internet community to also consider the diverse issues which are affecting the world’s peripheries.

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Growing the Internet Internet Governance Technology

No Small Island Developing State is an Island

In the aftermath of IGF 2013, whether you participated remotely or in person or are currently rummaging through the workshop videos and transcripts, you are likely solidifying your takeaways. Will IGF be another talkshop or will it make a fundamental difference to your work, your community, your region? In the SIDS of Trinidad and Tobago, work continues, striving to make ICT interventions applicable, meaningful and a real difference to people’s lives. By its very definition a SIDS, a small island developing state is an island but the isolated nature that an island geography connotes was powerfully challenged by the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Roundtable at the IGF which brought together voices from all over the world to collaborate on shared experiences, challenges and insights.

Workshop # 33, SIDS Roundtable: The Broadband (Access) Dilemma was organised by ISOC Trinidad and Tobago Chapter with partnership and alliance with colleagues oceans away from the Pacific Islands ISOC Chapter (PICISOC).  It was a followup from another SIDS discussion at IGF 2012 that sought to bring SIDS issues to the main agenda of the IGF and foster collaboration among islands from regions strewn across the globe. In the early Bali morn, on the fringes of the agenda before any other workshop was carded to start, a few SIDS converged then the tide swelled as representation from interest groups from Islands and remote regions across sectors, Government, Private Sector, Academia, Civil Society across the world converged. This was in many ways, IGF at its best, an opportunity for shared interests across the globe to converge in shared interests that can challenge a singular view or an isolated perspective and widen the scope of possibility.

It was a very meaningful example for me on the power of getting people from different SIDS, different remote regions across the globe and uprising their voices to the main agenda. On a very personal level, my PhD project at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology is a study situated in Trinidad and Tobago but it is part of an ARC Linkage study of the Pacific that to me gives real testament for the potential of this global collaboration among SIDS. Local specificities of context are real but the SIDS Roundtable at IGF gave voice to the many shared issues between islands territories such as the Cook Islands and Chuuk (Micronesia) and together with colleagues from Australia, New Zealand and beyond expanded this to the shared experiences with the remote rural.

This isn’t a blog so much about the Broadband Access Dilemma that the workshop broached. That is an important topic of course. See the webcast, get involved in the discussion and share solutions. This is a blog on a takeaway from IGF on the Dilemma of going away to corners of the world and working in little pockets when there is so much insight, so many experiences and best and worst practices that could make your work more successful, more meaningful. IGF succeeds in a measure if it can create linkages and strong ties that make possible concrete change to the work in different regions based on learnings from others who have or are facing similar issues. If someone in an island in Trinidad and Tobago can benefit from the experiences of or lend some assistance to someone in the Pacific then there is a real tangible takeaway from IGF. If there is a network built where people in across the globe can ask a question, start a discussion, work on a solution with someone from separated by something as small as an ocean then IGF makes a powerful success. If people can have their voices however small heard, if people leave with a conceptual shift that allows them to create a better reality in their own niche then the IG ecosystem is working.

Categories
Internet Governance

Internet Governance & Sustainable Development – The Case of Small Island Developing States

I will be posting a report here shortly on what I consider (perhaps I am biased) to be the most important workshop at IGF 2012 – Internet Governance & Sustainable Development: the Case of Small Island Developing States.

The Workshop was a Feeder Workshop into the Main Session on Internet Governance for Development (IG4D) held on Wednesday 7 November 2012.

Suffice to say, this Workshop attracted interest from only those who showed  interest in Small Island Developing States (SIDS). But who are these SIDS?

SIDS can be found in roughly in three regions: – the Atlantic, Indian Ocean and South China Sea (AIMS) Region (comprising 8 Nation States); – the Caribbean Region (comprising 16 Nation States); and – the Pacific Region (comprising 14 Nation States). Such numbers do not include those SIDS which are not UN-member States, but though not counted these island states are nonetheless recognised by the UN-OHRLLS as SIDS.

Here is the most recent listing of SIDS:

List of Small Island Developing States
(UN Members)

1 Antigua and Barbuda 20 Federated States of Micronesia
2 Bahamas 21 Mauritius
3 Bahrain 22 Nauru
4 Barbados 23 Palau
5 Belize 24 Papua New Guinea
6 Cape Verde * 25 Samoa *
7 Comoros * 26 São Tomé and Principe *
8 Cuba 27 Singapore
9 Dominica 28 St. Kitts and Nevis
10 Dominican Republic 29 St. Lucia
11 Fiji 30 St. Vincent and the Grenadines
12 Grenada 31 Seychelles
13 Guinea-Bissau * 32 Solomon Islands *
14 Guyana 33 Suriname
15 Haiti * 34 Timor-Lesté *
16 Jamaica 35 Tonga
17 Kiribati * 36 Trinidad and Tobago
18 Maldives * 37 Tuvalu *
19 Marshall Islands 38 Vanuatu *

 

List of Small Island Developing States
(Non-UN Members/Associate Members of the Regional Commissions)

1 American Samoa 8 Guam
2 Anguilla 9 Montserrat
3 Aruba 10 Netherlands Antilles
4 British Virgin Islands 11 New Calendonia
5 Commonwealth of Northern Marianas 12 Niue
6 Cook Islands 13 Puerto Rico
7 French Polynesia 14 U.S. Virgin Islands

*Also LDCs

 

world map

The Barbados Programme of Action (BPOA; adopted in 1994) which was further complemented by the Mauritius Strategy of Implementation (MSI 2005 and MSI+5 Outcome document), both recognised that despite being afflicted by economic difficulties and confronted by development imperatives consistent to developing countries generally; SIDS have their own peculiar vulnerabilities and characteristics. Such difficulties in the pursuit of sustainable development are particularly unique, severe and complex.

map of oceania map of atlantic ocean map of indian ocean

The following serves as an identification of some of the critical issues for SIDS:

  • Small size – There are many disadvantages that derive from small size, including a narrow range of resources, which forces undue specialisation; excessive dependence on international trade causing vulnerability to global developments; high population density, which increases the pressure on already limited resources; over-use of resources and premature depletion; relatively small watersheds and threatened supplies of fresh water; costly public administration and infrastructure, including transportation and communication; and limited institutional capacities, domestic markets and export volumes leading to non-existent economies of scale.
  • Isolation – Due to their geographic dispersion, isolation from markets and remote locations many SIDS are disadvantaged economically by small economies of scale, high freight costs and reduced competitiveness.
  • Climate change and sea-level rise – Due to the coastal zone concentration in a limited land area, the adverse effects of climate change and sea-level rise present significant risks to the sustainable development of SIDS, and the long-term effects of climate change may threaten the very existence and viability of some SIDS.
  • Natural and environmental disasters – SIDS are located among the most vulnerable regions in the world in relation to the intensity and frequency of natural and environmental disasters and their increasing impact, and face disproportionately high economic, social and environmental consequences.
  • Brain drain – Owing to their small size there are not sufficient jobs for specialised fields nor can local industry compete with international multinational corporations for talented workers therefore many educated citizens leave SIDS to seek out job opportunities and enhanced financial gain in developed countries.
  • Reliance on Agriculture, Fishing and Tourism- generally owing to their common colonial past the majority of SIDS rely on Agriculture, Fishing and Tourism for income. These sectors have been particularly hit by climate change, natural disasters and the Global Economic Downturn, making SIDS in dire need of diversification of their economies and retraining of unskilled workers to ensure sustainability.

These critical issues accentuate other challenges facing developing countries in general, for instance, difficulties in benefiting from trade liberalisation and globalisation; heavy dependence on welfare and external funding which can be easily impacted by global economic decline; energy dependence and access issue; the limited freshwater resources; limited land resulting in land degradation, which affects waste management, and vulnerable biodiversity resources.

(Source:http://sidsnet.org)

Indeed, issues relating to and resulting from the marginalisation of SIDS from the international Internet Governance (IG) debate are increasingly becoming critical as the Internet Governance (IG) agenda and discussions evolve and move rapidly forward to conclusions. Being so widely dispersed and twinned in regions with larger, more developed neighbouring countries means that such discussions pass without the meaningful input of the 52 SIDS.

This is due in part by lack of capacity and in part by their minority voice in the regions identified. On the path to the June 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20) and leading to WSIS +10, a comprehensive SIDS position on Internet Governance issues is required, at all levels including Governmental/Public Sector, Academia, Private Sector and Civil Society.

The IGF 2012 Workshop attempted, for the first time, to co-ordinate the SIDS IG Agenda and to address the potential impact of IG issues on human, social and economic development within the SIDS.

The Workshop took the form of an interactive session with representative Workshop Panelists from the SIDS regions as well as stakeholder organisations and addressed:

  1. Access & Diversity in SIDS
  2. Critical ICT Infrastructure and Internet Resource Issues in SIDS
  3. How ICT can assist with the challenges and opportunities brought about by Emerging Issues in SIDS
  4. Specific IG Issues relevant to SIDS and evaluation of Commonality of such IG issues amongst SIDS
  5. Evaluation of the commonality and need for Capacity Development in the areas of Security, Openness and Privacy among SIDS
  6. Development of an Action Plan and Research Agenda for moving forward