Even so, many key decision makers in governement cannot obtain the up to date information they need to implement key policies. Other sectors of civil society like NGOs, academia and national bu sinesses, who can and should also play a key role in development issues within their countries, have had an even more restricted access to information.
For many years developing countries have been net exporters of information. It is not surprising then to find more information for a specific developing country on an Internet server located in Washington D.C., for example, than in the country itself. Moreover, within most countries the little information that exists is either on private hands and/or it does not flow out of government ins titutions.
The rapid development of information technologies and computer-mediated communications has started to change this. The so-called "Global Village" is growing at a rapid pace. For the first time in history the democratization of information seems plausible at relatively moderate costs for all sectors of civil society in all nations.
The Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SDNP) is a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) project that addresses all these issues by fostering the process of information sharing a mong all sectors of society in developing countries, thereby empowering users, and helping decision makers on issues related to sustainable development. It utilizes computer-mediated communications as a means to achieve its final goal.
SDNP launched its pilot phase program in May of 1992 with 12 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The UNCED conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on that same year provided further impet us to the SDNP idea, stimulating widespread interest in national and regional SDNPs via Agenda 21 and the open participation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the process. To date some 20 c ountries have begun the process, and another 40 have requested help to get involved.
In this context, this paper will discuss the following topics: