The Sustainable Development Networking Program (SDNP) is a global catalytic initiative launched by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in response to Agenda 21, which articulated the need for improved information dissemination to support sustainable development. The program is geared towards facilitating communication between users and suppliers of sustainable development information in developing countries. 

The Internet and the widespread use of IT tools provide Developing Countries (DCs) with a golden opportunity not only to promote Sustainable Development in a systematic manner but also to put forward  themselves well into the 21st century. However, it is now evident that this process will not occur by itself or in an automatic manner.

In the last 5 years the impact of the Internet in DCs has been already substantial. Multiple ongoing initiatives funded by bi-lateral and multi-lateral organizations promoting the expansion of the Internet in DCs and the extensive use of IT on productive capacities and governance of the State. Finally, the private sector has entered into the picture and is investing in many DCs primarily on infrastructure and networking technologies - whereas so far most governments have shied away from this.

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 Program (SEMP). There are five sub-programs under SEMP: 

              Policy and Institutions 
              Participatory Eco-System Management 
              Community Based Environmental Sanitation 
              Awareness and Advocacy 
              Training and Education.

The Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) is the implementing agency for two of the 26 components in SEMP - The Policy Analysis Studies which falls under the Policy and Institutions Sub-Program, and the Sustainable Development Network (SDN) falls under the Awareness and Advocacy Sub-Program.

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 Network (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.

To date UNDP has assisted several countries, including China, Indonesia, Korea, Pakistan, the Philippines, Angola, Chad, Tunisia, Poland, Bolivia, Guatemala, and the Honduras, in setting up pilot SDNs.  

The objective of the Sustainable Development Network Project (SDNP) is to create an appropriate tool - the SDN - 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 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, 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)
        The Asia-Pacific development Information Program of 

To assist in the establishment of the SDN, UNDP is providing Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) 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  provides advisory support to BIDS. The 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.

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. 



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