CEDARE2000: Abstract

Md. Hakikur Rahman, Project Coordinator, SDNP-Bangladesh.

A paper for the Electronic Conference on Sustainable Development Information Systems

Title: "Sustainable Development Information Networking in Bangladesh"


Information is one of the key resource for the implementation of sustainable development and requires an implication of the various levels of public and private sectors including involvement of participation at the local, national, international and global level. Implementation of information for the sustainable development depends on several essential factors like, quality and quantity of optimal data, easy access at the grass root level, inclusion of modern IT methods with cheaper tools and transparent information flow.

The main concept of sustainable development is primarily cross-sectoral and privileges the tools for integration which should ensure coherence between specific problems and networks (disaster management, flood control, water management, agricultural data, industrial pollution, urban problems, etc.) and allow the installation of techniques to govern sustainable development.

Bangladesh is overwhelmingly dependent on environmental and natural resources, but the economic and societal forces at work coupled with other natural and technical factors, may have already seriously eroded the natural resource base of the country which could have serious adverse impact on output, income and employment. Efforts are being made to address these issues by the Government, donors, political parties, NGOs and other advocacy groups. The Government has been giving some attention to this sector. Among others it has approved the National Environment Management Action Plan (NEMAP) in 1996.

NEMAP was formulated through a massive consultative process involving 23 grassroots workshops, 7 regional workshops and 7 professional and expert group workshops. The Plan has prioritized 57 actions on the environmental front and the Government is in the process of creating a second-order priority list for immediate implementation. NEMAP is in line with Agenda 21 and the Rio Earth Summit of 1992.

In 1997, as a follow-up to NEMAP, the Government approved the UNDP-assisted Sustainable Environment Management Programme (SEMP). There are five sub-programmes under SEMP and the Sustainable Development Networking (SDN) falls under the Awareness and Advocacy Sub-Programme.

One of the strategies for promoting Awareness and Advocacy is enabling easy access to information and knowledge. To effectively implement such a strategy, the Sustainable Development Networking (SDN) aims to capitalize on the revolution in electronic communications and provide a new set of tools to achieve sustainable human development through a sharing of vital information, experience and expertise both within the country and globally.

Main objective of the Sustainable Development Networking Project (SDNP) is to create an appropriate tool for achieving and facilitating exchange of information/knowledge among development partners, academia, policy makers and the civil society, both national and international, in order to design and implement unique plans for sustainable development in Bangladesh.

The methodology for developing the SDN is to establish a non-profit internet service provider (ISP) having a central hub in Dhaka city at the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), which is the implementing agency of SDNP. Five regional nodes will be established in Chittagong, Khulna, Barisal, Sylhet, and Rajshahi, through a combination of systems that include Local Area Networking, Wide Area Networking, Microwave links, and Online VSAT networking. Subscribers to the SDN will be given access to standard Internet services as well as to a database maintained by BIDS. The subscribers will include Ministries of the Government of Bangladesh and other agencies that are implementing the various components of SEMP. These agencies may also contribute to the database, and/or through the SDN, set up websites which will disseminate information on their activities and achievements.

In addition the SDN will cater to other corporate users wishing to access the database and to standard Internet services. Such users may include national and regional press clubs, academic and research institutions, universities and public libraries.

SDN will furthermore network with all UN agencies working in Bangladesh, Earthwatch and Environment Information Networking / INFOTERRA of UNEP, The Sustainable Development Commission of UNCED, the Advisory Committee for Coordination of Information Systems (ACCIS) which helps Users gain access to UN databases and information resources, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Asia-Pacific development Information Programme of UNDP.

UNDP is providing with a starter kit comprising computer hardware and software, key databases, management and training tools, decision support tools, and other resources which will meet individual needs and ensure long-term compatibility with SDNs operating in other developing countries.

A Steering Committee, comprises of IT specialists as well as representatives of the Government, of the SEMP partners, of the media, of academic/research institutions, of the private sector, and other stakeholders provides advisory support to the project.

A UNDP mission in June 1999 visited Bangladesh and made certain recommendations regarding implementations of SDNP. In lieu with this recommendations, a website for BIDS and SDNP has been designed and hosted. Furthermore works progressing for setting up of a LAN in BIDS and start a pilot phase for networking among the SEMP partners.

Keywords: Local Area Network, Wide Area Network, Internet, VSAT


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