The Minister for Environment & Forests, Shri Suresh Prabhu, inaugurated the Central Hub of the Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SDNP) on June 04, 1999 i.e. the eve of the World Environment Day. While inaugurating the Central Hub, Shri Prabhu said that information is vital to sustainable development and information technology has already proved to be a useful and powerful tool in the information age. The Minister pointed out that the Ministry of Environment & Forests already has a number of projects promoting sustainable development in the country and by hosting the SDNP, the Ministry has further reiterated its commitment to sustainable development.
The SDNP is funded jointly by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and International Development Research Centre (IDRC), based in Canada. It is being implemented by the Ministry of Environment & Forests and is getting technical support from the National Centre for Software Technology (NCST), Mumbai.
The SDNP aims to provide and facilitate the exchange of information on sustainable development. It intends to work with academic and research institutions, government bodies, Non Government Orgainsations (NGOs) and business establishments throughout the country. The SDNP Secretariat, located within the premises of the Ministry, has already started working closely with the Environmental Information System (ENVIS) of the Ministry. Shri Prabhu hoped that the SDNP will make utmost use of the informa-tion techn-ology in meeting the goal of the Programme and will make information available to users spread all over the country.
Launched in 12 pilot countries in 1992 as an outgrowth of the Rio Earth Summit, the SDNP currently offers assistance in establishing connectivity to national networks, the Internet, contents aggregation and user training.
Sustainable Development Networks (SDNs) combine electronic communication, face-to-face meetings and other means of communication to link sources and users of information on sustainable development in government, research, non-government organisations, grassroots and entrepreneurial organisations. The SDNP is more than an information network. SDNs foster informed dialogue and communication to empower stakeholders - that is those who stand to be directly affected by development to become more active participants is the development process. Round table processes as well as public or community participation in decision making are examples of the type of consultation that SDN encourages and becomes involved with.
In India, a National Steering Committee consisting of representatives of various organisations will provide policy guidance, while the National Project Director will oversee functioning of the Secretariat. The Director of NCST provides inputs as the National Project Advisor. Day to Day functioning of the Secretariat is supervised by the National Programme Coordinator. During its operation, the SDNP will be establishing nodes all over the country on subject areas relevant to sustainable development. Some of these nodes will be from the existing ENVIS Centres. Subject areas such as agriculture and health, which are not yet covered by the ENVIS Network, will also be included as SDNP Nodes.
The National Project Director of SDNP, Shri Harjit Singh, mentioned that Sustainable Development Networks (SDNs) with assistance from UNDP are at various stages of being operationalized in more than 80 countries. With the inauguration of the Central Hub, now India has also joined this prestigious network. Within a short span of time, the hub has been able to set up a website (http://sdnp.delhi.nic.in) and has also helped the ENVIS in the Ministry to put up the Annual Report and Enviro News on the Ministry's website (http://www.nic.in/envfor). Shri Harjit Singh mentioned that the SDNP Secretariat will provide information over telephone, by post, fax, e-mail and website and hoped that the SDNP will soon become the starting point for any information seeker on sustainable development in the country.