Presentation to Fifth Summit of the Americas Civil Society Forum

The Fifth Summit of the Americas Civil Society Forum was held in Trinidad and Tobago from April 15 to 16 2009.

The UNDP Country Office in Trinidad & Tobago collaborated with DevNet to do a presentation in the panel session Improving Civil Society Responses. This session was intended to provide participants with a general understanding of key tools to build networks for more effective implementation. The moderator was Dr. Marlene Attzs, Lecturer, University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago

The title of the presentation was "New Concepts and Mechanisms for Networking" and was done by Edo Stork, Deputy Resident Representative, United Nations Development Programme, Trinidad and Tobago and Vidyaratha Kissoon, from DevNet and in the role as former Co-ordinator, UNDP/Sustainable Development Networking Programme Project, Guyana

The other panellists were Mr Lincoln Robinson of Internlink Communications in Jamaica who looked at "Social Innovation, Information Technology, Social Media, Building a Blog and Exploring the World of Wikis" while Ms Bernadette Lewis, Secretary General, Caribbean Telecommunications Union, Trinidad and Tobago made a case for affordable and equitable access to ICTs in the region.

The presentation on New Concepts and Mechanisms for Networking started with an overview of UNDP's role, and the Sustainable Development Networking Programme. . A case was also made of the Caribbean ICT Virtual Stakeholders Community . The community is being supported through a project implemented by personnel who have worked on SDN projects in Guyana, Jamaica and Haiti in collaboration with Fundacion Taiguey in Dominican Republic and with the support of IDRC

The opportunities of ICT to share information, promote transparencey of CSOs and to network were discussed. Help & Shelter was cited as an example of a NGO which uses its website to share information about its activities.

The comments from the floor raised concerns about the change in lifestyles brought about by the impersonal networking and the fear that ICTs posed greater risk for young people in the change of habits. A participant from Honduras was concerned about the limitations on the ICTs available to persons with disabilities. Other persons presented the opportunities for civil society networking - an example from Colombia was cited of quick mobilising after the murder of a transgender activist. Another participant referred to the potential which social networking would offer gay Caribbean citizens who would be scared of homophobic violence.
The example of the use in Jamaica of ICTs such as SMS for disaster risk management was highlighted and lauded.

A special mention was made of the Trinidad & Tobago Computer Society in the distribution of their Open source CD

This panel discussion was referred to in the statement by His Excellency Edwin Carrington, Secretary General of CARICOM, at the Closing Ceremony of the civil society forum.

The presentation can be downloaded here in PPT and ODP formats. Please browse the notes for additional information

CS Forum Presentation (UNDP/Devnet) PPT format223.5 KB
CS Forum Presentation (UNDP/DevNet) ODP format123.63 KB