This Facilitation Meeting will focus on identifying and developing awareness around contributions and interventions that the C10 Action Line: Ethical dimensions of the information society, can advance in support of the sustainable development goals (SDGs). The event will bring together a global panel of educators, policy-makers, researchers, civil society and private sector actors to share experiences and contribute to shaping the Action Line’s future work streams.
The effective use of information and communication technologies (ICT) can significantly contribute to the attainment of the SDGs and create conditions for the realization of human rights. From this perspective, an ethical imperative arises for the provision of systems and enabling environments that allow for meaningful participation and representation within the on-line spaces.
Currently, around 42% of the world’s population has access to the Internet. There is an urgent need to address this gap, but also to give attention to other issues around access to information and knowledge that go beyond connectivity, such as relevant content and user capabilities. Both hard and soft factors must be addressed in order to enhance participation and achieve positive outcomes for all.
Online processes offer possibilities for shifting governance and decision-making from a top down mode to one capable of coalescing and integrating bottom-up views to achieve an informed consensus that reflects broad-based societal concerns. Nevertheless participatory governance depends on the information and knowledge that people have, their ability to apply and to prioritize and distill the important from background distractions. While the Internet and virtual spaces provide greater opportunities for expression, this potential may not necessarily result in an automatic levelling of the playing field and the inclusion of the marginalized; as it may be difficult to be heard amidst the cacophony of competing noises.
Interventions in the areas of education and policy making can contribute to alleviating the foregoing challenges:
- Education aimed at the development of skills relevant to self-expression, the critical analysis and use of content, as well as civil user interaction within the seamless, glocal, on-line context takes on a heightened role in ensuring effective participation. There is also a need for users to develop a greater capacity for self-awareness and reflexivity around the direct and indirect consequences of their actions.
- Policy-makers play an important role in the evolving socio-technical interplay on-line. These decisions influence a range of stakeholder choices, interactions and social transformation processes. However, policy-makers need to recognize and make explicit to themselves and others the ethical content embedded in their choices. Unless policy-makers can understand, position and articulate within their “technical decision-making” processes values such as “contributing to enabling all persons to freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, enjoying the arts and sharing in scientific advancement and its benefits”, the full potential of ICT for sustainable development will not be realized.
Session's link to the Sustainable Development Process
The session will serve to identify recommendations around policy and education that UNESCO and its partners can undertake in the post-2015 phase to strengthen the Action Line’s contribution to the SDGs.