De verklaring is opgesteld naar aanleiding van het symposium ‘From development co-operation to e-development – symposium on ICT policy and practice in development countries’. Het symposium vond plaats op 12 juni jl. in museum Naturalis in Leiden. Het symposium, georganiseerd door Hivos in samenwerking met IICD en OneWorld, bood een platform aan Nederlandse ontwikkelingsorganisaties en andere betrokken organisaties en bedrijven om na te denken over een effectieve toepassing van ICT binnen ontwikkelingssamenwerking en de noodzakelijke voorwaarden daarvoor.
Aan het symposium werd deelgenomen door ruim 180 mensen. Daaronder vertegenwoordigers van Hivos, IICD en OneWorld-partners uit India, Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali, Bolivia, Honduras, Jamaica en Costa Rica. Na het symposium hebben de organisatoren samen met keynote spreker Louk de la Rive Box de ‘verklaring van Naturalis’ opgesteld. De verklaring is – achteraf, op uitnodiging – mede-ondertekend door ruim vijftig deelnemers aan het symposium.
Development can never be reduced to technology. Yet, it is technology that brought about the
modern, worldwide communication networks that are underpinning a rapidly emerging global
Knowledge society. Without access to these networks, individuals and nations will remain
excluded from mainstream economic development.
Freedom of communication will increasingly become a basic human right in a modern society.
Governments and corporations need to be challenged in cases of infringement of this right.
In countries with non-democratic governments or were trans-national corporations have
powerful business interests, global civil society needs to play its indispensable role in ensuring
this right to exercise freedom of communication.
One key factor responsible for the poor performance of development aid is the lack of knowledge
about the receiving societies in general, and about the most effective poverty reduction strategies
in these societies in particular. The development community lacks good methods to access the
global stock of knowledge and expertise and to translate these into policy. Only when Northern
and Southern organizations share knowledge and information can they design effective cooperation
policies and programmes.
In preparing its advocacy campaign for the Earth Summit, civil society became aware of the
formidable strength of the Internet. Since then, numerous knowledge and information networks
among civil society organizations have given rise to an international civil society movement.
This movement has grown into a significant force that advocates the need for good governance,
champions the protection of the environment and fights for structural solutions to the problem of
poverty. As such the movement provides a trusted constituency for international cooperation.
The future of international cooperation, be it civilateral, bilateral or multilateral, will therefore
increasingly depend on international knowledge networks. International cooperation therefore also
needs to safeguard institutional conditions for free communication.
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) provide new opportunities to advance such
international knowledge networks. They enable grassroots organizations in the South to take an
active part in these networks. ICTs are not just appliances for these organizations, but vital tools
that cannot be denied to partners in developing countries, if only not to marginalize them from
mainstream development in a globalizing knowledge society.
Governments in both rich and poor countries are requested to promote freedom of communication
and to generate the conditions in which this freedom can be used. Donor governments could help
by giving priority to bilateral cooperation programmes that will facilitate participation in global
knowledge networks. Multilateral agencies could do more by pooling resources in order to facilitate
the development of adequate technological infrastructures. Civilateral organizations could strengthen
global public interest groups who are challenging governments and corporations whenever these
infringe on the right to exercise freedom of communication.
In view of the support that the Netherlands government currently provides both to civilateral
cooperation (about one-quarter of the total ODA) and to innovative research and technology
programmes, the Minister for Development Cooperation could play an important role in encouraging
the creation of an international donor alliance (such as the Utstein coalition) that could foster the
use of information and communication to fight against poverty and to guarantee freedom of