Friday, December 23, 2011

ICT at the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development

The Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development is 20 to 22 June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Here are some of the documents from the conference web site which mention us of ICT:
  1. Using ICTs to tackle Climate Change: International Telecommunication Union; Global e-Sustainability Initiative
  2. ICT as an Enabler for Smart Water Management: International Telecommunication Union
  3. ICTs for e-Environment: International Telecommunication Union
This is a follow-up on the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). That conference achieved very little, but the UN does not seemed to have learned from that failure and continues to hold the same type of last-century expensive talk-shops.

ICT features as a development enabler in several of the documents provided for the conference (particularly Robert Pollard's). It is unfortunate that the UN has not thought to use ICT to improve the process for such events. It makes very little sense to fly people from around the world to sit and listen to some rich person tell them that poor people need a voice. It is time the UN used ICT to reform its own processes, to make them more efficient and more open. A simple way to do that would be to shrink the size of the Rio+20 conference to just a small PR unit of perhaps ten people for publicity purposes, with the delegates remaining at home and communicating on-line. Anyone else who wanted to contribute could also do so on-line.

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