Now that Cooperation 2.0 in Gijon is over for already a week, we would like to share some thoughts and impressions from the event.
The overall guiding theme of Coop 2.0 was “Innovation on ICT for Development Cooperation” and this theme was present in almost every talk and round table. Already in the entry speech of Nadjat Rochdi from UNDP, the need for innovation was accentuated. And adverse to invention (having new ideas) she defindes innovation as “appyling ideas in a new way“. Furthermore she called for collective action of all stakeholders – governments, NGOs, private sector.
The projects and organizations presented in the following days mostly conformed to these ideas, showing interessting concepts on how to use existing technology for social and economic improvement, or how to reshape development cooperation to let everybody contribute.
On the technology side there were for example
What these three presentations showed was that the right technology in the right situation has huge potential. But, as Kentaro Toayama pointed out – not for every problem, there is a technological solution which makes sense. StÃ©phane Boyera presented mobile phones as the most powerful device in ICT4D currently – changing lifestyles of people all around the world and empowering the poor to act as contibutors instead only as consumers. But he also mentioned the shortcomings of mobile phones and the need for an inclusive approach, integrating other technology already in place.
On the “reshaping development cooperation” side there were for example
The statements in these presentations were supporting an increased integration of the southern countries in the process of bridging the digital divide. Furthermore the need for urgent cooperative actions was underlined. As Vikas Nath put it – networked cooperation is a must – institutions have to learn to integrate themselves in bigger networks.
In the discussion panels it was often claimed that in ICT4D, development needs to be in focus, not technology – but in my opinion most contributors at Coop 2.0 seemed to have understood that. What they shared was the enthusiasm about ICTs – as Oleg Petrov put it – one of the most powerful tools in human history.
Coop 2.0 was therefore in my understanding a highly valuable event for the international ICT4D and general development cooperation community to meet, network and share experiences and best practices. It was inspiring to hear of innovative projects using ICTs on the one hand, but also of attempts to achieve increased networking in development cooperation – where ICTs naturally can contribute substantially.