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NEW YORK, NY—The Markle Foundation and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) today kicked off the Global Digital Opportunity Initiative (GDOI) with the formation of an International Partners Group including Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard, Cisco Systems, AOL-Time Warner, the Harvard Center for International Development, Grameen Bank and other business, non-profit and international entities. The initiative is committed to assisting developing nations with pro-bono expertise and resources to create e-strategies and solutions that advance development goals.
The initiative and its partners will work in approximately twelve developing nations over the next two years to assist them in harnessing digital technology's power to improve healthcare and education, address social equity issues, reduce poverty and create enhanced economic opportunity. The initiative is premised upon recognition of the growing interdependence of nations, and of the critical need to include developing countries as full participants in the increasingly networked economy and society.
The Global Digital Opportunity Initiative is a unique collaboration generated by the recent global task forces commenced on the global digital divide by the G-8 governments and United Nations, and aimed at engaging public and private sectors in a joint effort to develop technologies, policies and applications for the entrenched development problems of impoverished nations. In addition to the international partners group, the initiative is being advised by a Steering Committee that includes EDventure Holdings Chairman Esther Dyson, Carlyle Group Managing Director William Kennard, Jeffrey Sachs, director, Harvard Center for International Development, Nii Quaynor of the Ghana Internet Corporation, and other experts in the technology and development communities.
"It is now undeniable that information and communications technologies play a critical role in helping developing nations achieve basic development goals. Now it is time to get the job done on the ground in response to the large number of requests we have received from developing countries," said Mark Malloch Brown, UNDP administrator. "This initiative is now poised to take action in concert with all key national stakeholders to create a dynamic policy framework for development."
"GDOI is also an example of a new way of doing business for the United Nations as a whole, both in its reform process and in forging a new kind of relationship with like-minded partners in developed and developing countries," he added.
"New technologies, deployed appropriately, offer an unprecedented opportunity to meet global development challenges," said Zoë Baird, president of the Markle Foundation. "This initiative is a powerful example of how public and private organizations can jointly mobilize technological resources and expertise in the service of improving lives around the world." GDOI represents a concrete realization of Markle and UNDP's commitment to mobilizing public and private sectors in the effort to create development dynamics in poor countries. GDOI can be viewed as an important statement by the technology industry that it is willing to support innovative programs that have the potential to drive sustainable development. The GDOI International Partners Group is a significant first step toward developing new collaborative models for development based on the convergence of information and communications technologies.
There is growing evidence that information technologies can play a critical role in advancing poor nations' development goals, creating wealth and alleviating poverty. The same forces also threaten to widen the current economic and social divides if countries cannot take advantage of them. GDOI will focus on creating holistic plans and programs covering policy, human capacity, enterprise, applications, content, and infrastructure that can ignite a "development dynamic" in countries that can most benefit. Each member of the International Partners Group is committed to providing resources and expertise on a pro-bono basis to at least three countries over the next two years.
AOL-Time Warner, Cisco Systems, CommerceNet, GeoPartners Ventures, Global Information Infrastructure, Commission, Grameen Bank, Bangladesh Hewlett-Packard, Millennium Tech Ventures, Morrison & Foerster LLP, N-Logue, India, PicoPeta Simputers, India STMicroelectronics, Italy Sun Microsystems,TAG International, Egypt White & Case
African Connection, South Africa, Bridges, South Africa, Global Internet Policy Initiative, Harvard Center for International Development, InterAction, International Development Research Centre, Canada, Media Lab Asia, India, OneWorld International, U.K., University of California Berkeley-Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS), World Resources Institute
International Chamber of Commerce, International Telecommunication Union, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
UNDP as part of the United Nations is committed to the principle that development is inseparable from the quest for peace and human security and that the United Nations must be a strong force for development as well as peace. With offices in 132 countries, UNDP's mission is to help countries in their efforts to achieve sustainable human development by assisting them to build their capacity to design and carry out development programs in poverty eradication, employment creation and sustainable livelihoods, the empowerment of women and the protection and regeneration of the environment, giving first priority to poverty eradication.