http://www.it4all-bilbao.org/

What is the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)?

The Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) is a work process, endorsed by the UN, to develop a common vision and understanding of the Information Society, and to put into operation a jointly agreed Plan of Action which makes it possible to ensure that the benefits of the Information Society reach all persons.

What is the WSIS process?

It is organised into two phases: December 2003 (Geneva) and November 2005 (Tunis). In order to arrive at each of these important events, work groups and preparatory meetings have been arranged.

Why is the WSIS important for Local Authorities?

Because it is the first time in history that the United Nations have allowed the participation of Local Authorities in a World Summit, traditionally reserved to States-Nations.

Why are Local Authorities important for the WSIS?

Local Authorities are the closest point of contact for their citizen, thus enabling them to identify their true needs and oversee the provision of services to satisfy those needs. Moreover, in the words of the renowned expert Professor Manuel Castells, “The new hubs of innovation and competitiveness will be structured around the regions”. Currently, States are often too large to resolve the small day-to-day problems that their citizens face and too small to tackle global problems.

In any case, and in spite of their favourable initial starting position, Local Authorities need to cooperate in order to improve the effectiveness of their activities. Cooperation between cities and regions is fundamental as it makes it possible to benefit from experiences that have proved successful in other territories, with the resulting saving in costs and in effort.

Unlike the situation for States, which have traditionally organised their cooperation based on large international organisations, it is not easy to coordinate effective cooperation formulas between Locales Authorities. One solution, which at least is taking on increasing importance at European Union level, is to form networks or associations of Local Authorities in order to collaborate on specific issues en (sustainable development, innovation, information society, etc…). Experiences are usually shared in these networks, with joint reflection taking place on matters of mutual interest. One example of this is the Network of Local Authorities for the Information Society IT4ALL

Conclusion: when faced with any change which directly affects citizens, it is necessary to take into account Local Authorities as the link between global and local.

How is the participation of the Local Authorities in the WSIS coordinated?

The instrument chosen by the UNO in order to create a framework for the participation of the Local Authorities of the world in this process is UNITAR (United Nations Institute for Training and Research), whose Executive Director, Mr. Marcel Boisard, is, at the same time, Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations. To perform this task, UNITAR is counting on the CIFAL programme, Decentralised Cooperation Programme, whose mission is to help local players identify their priorities and strengthen their capabilities in key areas for their development.

How was the participation process of Local Authorities during the 1st phase of the WSIS (Geneva 2003)?

February 2003: International Congress “IT4ALL: Opportunities and Challenges for the Regions in the new Information Society”, in Bilbao (Region of the Basque Country). Creation of the “IT4ALL-Network of Local Authorities for the Information Society” and the setting up of the CIFAL BILBAO centre, under the auspices of the CIFAL programme, to provide support for the network, and to promote and coordinate the process. The preparatory process for the 1st Phase of the WSIS also includes three preparatory meetings (PREPCOM meetings) which take place in Geneva, at the second of which, held in February 2003, the Committee of Representatives of Cities and Regions was formed.

July 2003: Regional Conference for Africa: Nouakchott (Mauritania)

October 2003: Regional Conference for Latin America - Caribbean: Curitiba (Brazil)

October 2003: Regional Conference for Asia - Pacific: Shanghai (China).

4-5 December 2003: 1st World Summit of Cities and Local Authorities on the Information Society, in Lyon (France), the final position of the regions and cities was established, thereby forming the contribution of the Local Authorities to the plan of action and to the final declaration at Geneva (10-12 December 2003)

10-12 December 2003: 1st Phase of the WSIS, in Geneva. States, civil society (including Local Authorities) and the private sector take part. The Geneva Declaration is sighed.

The participation process of Local Authorities during the 2nd phase of the WSIS (Tunis 2005):

The process of preparing the 2nd phase of the WSIS includes three preparatory meetings (PREPCOM meetings): 24-26 June 2004: PrepCom-1, Hammamet (Tunis), 17-25 February 2005: PrepCom-2, Geneva (Switzerland) September 2005: PrepCom-3, Geneva (Switzerland)

From January 2004 to 9 November 2005: in order to prepare the participation of the Local Authorities in the 2nd phase of the WSIS, 4 Regional Conferences will be held, a series of Thematic Workshops based in the exchange of experiences and the formulation of strategics orientations (see "Preliminary process": preliminary)

9-11 November 2005: the "II World Summit of Cities and Local Authorities on the Information Society", Bilbao (Region of the Basque Country), will establish the final position of the Local Authorities and the contribution (Plan of Action) of the Local Authorities to the final declaration in Tunis.

16-18 November 2005: 2nd Phase of the WSIS, en Tunis. The contribution of the Local Authorities and other groups in the Civil Society Division will be added to that of the States and to that of the private sector, in order to produce the final position and the Plan of Action to be implemented after this 1st World Summit on the Information Society.

What will the Bilbao Summit represent within the WSIS?

The establishing of the position and commitments of the Local Authorities as regards the WSIS, which will be incorporated in Tunis (16-18 November 2005) together with those of the States, other groups in the Civil Society Division and those of companies in order to produce the final position and the Plan of Action to be implemented starting in 2006.

Who is the Bilbao Summit intended for?

The Summit of Bilbao is intended for all of those responsible of creating an Information Society accesible to all, that responds to the needs of all citizens, and creates employment and new professional competencies.

What does taking part in the Bilbao Summit contribute to a Local Authority?

At the political level, it contributes towards strengthening the international role of sub-State governments (cities and regions) as key players in this and in other fields, due to their greater proximity to citizens and their capability to meet their true requirements.

At the technical level, an opportunity to learn about the successful experiences of all regions in the world, not from a technological point of view, but rather as regards the social and economic changes that involve the Information Society.

How can I take part?

By coming to Bilbao on 9, 10 and 11 November 2005.

On-line, by contributing to the collective drawing-up of the Bilbao Declaration and by proposing experiences you consider useful to participate in the different spaces at the Summit.

How much does it cost to take part?

There is no registration cost to take part in the Summit.

The Summit organisers are negotiating with international development institutions in order to establish aid packages to enable the cities and regions with fewest resources to be present at the Summit in Bilbao.

What will the contents of the Summit be?

A plenary, 12 Thematic Workshops where Local Authorities will present their vision on the Information Society , the discussion of the Draft of the Declaration of Bilbao, and an interactive space where successful partnership experiences will be presented.

The main issues to be discussed will be Solidarity and Cooperation on digital matters between different regions of the world, the funding of Information Society development policies in developing regions, and Digital Inclusion Policies.

Who is organising this Summit?

The Summit of Bilbao is an iniciative of the Government of the region of the Basque Country and UNITAR (United Nations Institute for Training and Research)

CIFAL Bilbao, International Centre for Training of Local Authorities, an initiative created jointly by the Region of the Basque Country and UNITAR. This Centre organises training activities aimed at improving the skills qualification of political and technical representatives of Local Authorities on matters concerning the Information Society and, in addition, is the coordinator of the IT4ALL- Network of Local Authorities for the Information Society.

Who supports this Summit?

The United Nations Organisation, through UNITAR, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), the Digital Solidarity Fund, the Basque Government, Bilbao City Council, the Government of Spain and the European Union, among others.

What is the CIFAL Programme?

It is a Training Programme for Local Authorities set up by UNITAR (United Nations Institute for Training and Research). It currently has 11 centres spread throughout the world.

What is IT4ALL?

IT4ALL- Network of Local Authorities for the Information Society, is an initiative created with the dual purpose of ensuring that the voice and opinions of the Local Authorities is heard at the WSIS and of systematising and sharing the knowledge available on matters concerning the Information Society, by designing the mechanisms for cooperation in this field and putting them into practice.


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