Vikas Nath: Cooperation Agencies or Cooperation Networks?

Notes from the II Encuentro Internacional TIC para la Cooperación al Desarrollo (Development Cooperation 2.0: II International Meeting on ICT for Development Cooperation) held in Gijón, Spain, on February 10-12th, 2009. More notes on this event: cooperacion2.0_2009. More notes on this series of events: cooperacion2.0.

Development Cooperation Agencies or Cooperation Networks?
Vikas Nath, Head of Media and Communications in South Centre Inter-Governmental Organization.

It’s important to be part of the solution, not part of the problem: institutions have to learn, and to innovate.

Different kinds of aid: ideological aid, commercial aid, environmental aid, solidarity aid, humanitarian aid, development projects… Thus, depending on your government’s priorities, you’re likely to find your national development cooperation agency to foster one or another kind of aid. And this shapes too the tools you’re to use to implant your aid programmes and projects.

But we’re at a critical juncture: food crisis, financial crisis, energy crisis, environmental crisis… Things have changed, the Old World Order is weakening… but a New World Order has not fully formed. What to do?

Solutions:

  • Best-Shot Method: GPS, cure for AIDS
  • Weakest Link: stopping being part of the problem and begin to be part of the solution: cure for Polio
  • Aggregation Method: joint effort to find solutions

Networked cooperation is a must. Critical mass is required to find difficult solutions. And the cost of inaction is higher than the cost of networking, even if the cost of networking or consensus achievement might be seen as high.

But, besides Humanitarian Aid, which is quite coordinated, rest of kinds of aid are not networked, specially development projects.

We can find, nevertheless, some initiatives to bring people together around the Millennium Development Goals, Climate Change, Extreme Poverty Alleviation, the Digital Divide.

In the field of tools, the landscape is more optimistic. Initiatives like the Global Development Network, the Global Knowledge Partnership, Solution Exchange, or INSouth are good examples of networking strategies to share resources, efforts and so.

New Diplomacy or Diplomacy 2.0: shift from North-South networks towards South-South or North-South-South.

Julius Nyerere: If you cannot share your wealth, share your poverty. e.g. Venezuela gives oil to Cuba in exchange of physicists. You have to understand you’re part of the problem and try to be part of the solution by glimpsing alternative views.

We need, in development cooperation, a change of paradigm, the like of scientific revolutions that bring paradigm shifts.

Development Cooperation is no longer a foreign affair, but an inter-agency affair.

Q & A

Q: What’s the role of the Web 2.0? A: Important that more information circulates South-North, and not opposite. It’s about enabling participation of all parties.

Q: How is going to change international cooperation in the framework of a financial crisis? A: There is going to be a wash up of inefficient measures and cooperation channels and, on the other hand, we will be able to find solutions out of the usual lines of cooperation, with new models coming up (e.g. Venezuela’s or China’s). The chinese concept of crisis: crisis as a thread but also as a opportunity.

A: How can we force a shift of paradigm at the social (not at the scientific) level? Q: We have to find spaces in out networks to accomodate the different points of view.

Q: Networks are great… if you’re part of them. What happens if you’re out of the network? Can you afford being put outside of everything? A: Don’t think there’s a way too look at things in a separate way. They’re all interlinked, so the network is the only approach. Of course, network exclusion is a risk and we have to be aware of it.

Q: How the entrance of big foundations and philantropists (e.g. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) in the development cooperation landscape has changed the whole system? A: It’s a good step forward towards multi-stakeholder partnerships. Putting the private sector in the equation is one of the keys for sustainability.

Development Cooperation 2.0 (2009)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2009) “Vikas Nath: Cooperation Agencies or Cooperation Networks?” In ICTlogy, #65, February 2009. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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