It is Sunday morning, and I am writing this post in the airplane, on my way to Geneva to represent Israel in the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development in its annual meeting (May 25-29, 2009). (Thanks ISOCI-IL who supported my candidacy for this role).
The first thought that crossed my mind when I prepared myself to the meeting is that being a scholar and representing a country at the same time may pose a challenge. What if the stance I will need to represent is against my opinions? I try convincing myself that this is a commission on a professional subject and therefore the political forces are rather minor. Although, I am a great believer that politics is everywhere (I promise to update in the next posts whether I felt stretched as a scholar or not).
According to the official documents main topics that will be discussed in this meeting are twofold:
1. “To discuss development-oriented policies for socio-economic inclusive information societies, including access, infrastructure and an enabling environment. It will also discuss the building of Indigenous capabilities in science, technology and innovation, which are essential for the achievement of both short- and long-term development goals.”
2. The Commission will review the progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) outcomes at the regional and international levels. “
It makes me excited and disappointed at the same time. I am always happy to know that topics and challenges in the information society are being discussed at high-level of policy-makers forums. But then, how can one possibly cover these two topics in five days? My skeptical inner voice says that basically it is analogous to solve all the problems of the world in five days.
Another question that I ask myself is how much the “rich” countries will be committed to an agenda that is focused on development in developing countries. It is an important question. Once a venue becomes identified only with ‘less-strong politically’ countries (and it doesn’t matter whether objectively they are or they are not), the discourse and discussion becomes local and silo making it difficult to solve anything.
Specially, I am interested to understand the latent interests of the different actors coming to that event. For example I already learned that since it is a UN event only representatives of countries vote, putting other bodies like NGOs at a disadvantage in the process. I am not sure that such an exclusive process leaves hope for an inclusive solution. Stay tuned.