Canadian Preparations for WSIS Phase 1
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A national preparatory process was put in place to coordinate Canada's involvement in the Summit. At its centre was the WSIS Canadian Coordinating Committee, co-chaired by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and Industry Canada. The Committee includes the following stakeholders:
- Other interested Government Departments, Agencies, and Public Corporations: Canadian International Development Agency; International Development Research Centre; Canadian Heritage; Status of Women Canada; Indian and Northern Affairs; Treasury Board; Privy Council Office; Finance; Human Resource Development Canada; Environment Canada; Health Canada; and Canada Post
- A representative from Canadian Civil Society: Canadian Commission for UNESCO
- A representative from the Private Sector: Canadian Chamber of Commerce/Canadian Council for International Business
- Representatives from Provincial and Territorial Governments.
The government of Canada will follow a similar but more limited, consultative process for Phase 2. The Canadian Coordinating Committee will continue in its consultative role.
The formal WSIS preparatory process for Phase 1 consisted of three major Preparatory Conferences (PrepComs) in Geneva and an Intersessional Meeting in Paris:
- PrepCom 1, July 1-5, 2002
- PrepCom 2, February 17-28, 2003
- Intersessional, July 15-18, 2003
- PrepCom 3, September 15-26, 2003
and six regional conferences:
- Africa (Bamako, 28-30 May, 2002)
- Europe (Bucharest, November 7-9, 2002)
- Asia (Tokyo, 13-15 January, 2003)
- the Americas (Bavaro, January 29-31, 2003)
- Western Asia (Beirut, February 4-6, 2003
- the League of Arab States (Cairo, June 2003).
For more information on the preparatory process including outcomes of the various PrepComs and Regional Conferences, please visit the following ITU Web-site.
The Government of Canada provided and facilitated opportunities for Canadians to get involved with the first Phase of the World Summit on the Information Society held in Geneva, Switzerland from December 10-12, 2003. The Opportunities were made available through various platforms, which included:
Government of Canada Consultation on WSIS
The Government of Canada sought the views of Canadians on how Canada could contribute to a global information society. Canadians participated in a consultation which helped shape our presence and contributions at the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society. The Government of Canada sought to promote initiatives that built on programs and/or projects with other Canadians or international partners which were either already underway or ready to be launched.
Canadian Commission for UNESCO
The Canadian Commission for UNESCO took a lead role in representing civil society's interests and views at the World Summit on the Information Society. The Commission undertook a series of consultations with civil society in Canada. Results of the consultations have guided the Canadian government in developing its position for the Summit and have helped define the essential elements included in the Action Plan and Declaration of Principles adopted at the Summit. Official Report on Canadian WSIS Debriefing Session January 23, 2004. Visit the Canadian Commission for UNESCO's web site.
In the ICT field, Canada has a world class story to share with the world because of Canadian expertise in the application of ICTs across all sectors such as in the health and education sectors, e-government, etc. The Government of Canada showcased many successful Canadian achievements in the Canadian Pavilion at the ICT4D platform. The Government also published and distributed at the Canadian Pavilion a brochure which includes examples of success stories and best practices.
ICT for Development Platform (ICT4D)
The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the Global Knowledge Partnership were showcased at the summit and hosted a major "marketplace for ideas" in Geneva. The ICT4D platform focused on development; however prestigious private sector initiatives and partnerships were also showcased. Canada was present at this platform with a substantial pavilion.
Canada's National ICT Strategy
The last 10 years provided a challenging environment for the successful development and implementation of a national vision for digital inclusion and innovation in Canada. We saw the restructuring of the Federal Government, which integrated the former Ministry of Communications into the Ministry of Industry; the development of the World Wide Web, which presented a new generation of information and communication technologies and tools to support a shift from "passive" to "active" learning; and fiscal constraints, which cut the Ministry of Industry budget in half forcing it to reinvent itself.
Canada's Vision of the Global Information Society
Canada's vision of the global information society is one that includes all people. We believe that everyone has the potential to participate in the information society, and that people everywhere should have opportunities to benefit from the possibilities it brings in all areas of human life. These benefits include improved governance, sustainable economic development, strengthened social cohesion, expanded knowledge and new forms of cultural expression.
Canada's Guiding Principles for the WSIS
To date, Canada has taken the view that the WSIS should focus on poverty reduction and development. The Summit should aim at broadening the understanding that Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are a fundamental tool for social and economic development and thus for helping achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals.
Building on our own national experience in developing an information society strategy and on the work of existing "ICT for development" initiatives (e.g. G8 Digital Opportunity Task Force, UN ICT Task Force), we believe the work of the WSIS should be guided by the following key principles:
- Promoting democratic government and governance;
- Creating an enabling environment through appropriate policies, laws, regulations and practices;
- Developing human capacity through education and training;
- Increasing access to communication networks and information services; Fostering the creation and preservation of local content;
- Building new partnerships, increasing international cooperation, and promoting cross cultural dialogue; and
- encouraging community involvement and empowerment.
See Background Documents in the Media Room for Canada's official contributions.