The Knowledge Societies Policy Handbook and the Knowledge Societies Policy Library present the result of a project carried by UNU-EGOV and funded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – Information for All Programme (UNESCO/IFAP), which sought to develop linkages between UNESCO’s concept of Knowledge Societies and the most current, internationally agreed framework for humanity’s progress: the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The Knowledge Societies Policy Handbook and Library, and its associated online platform of tools, policy resources and a diverse community of practice, represent the latest response to the emerging challenges and opportunities.
According to UNESCO, “Knowledge Societies are societies in which people have the capabilities not just to acquire information but also to transform it into knowledge and understanding, which empowers them to enhance their livelihoods and contribute to the social and economic development of their communities.” (Engida, 2016). The cornerstone of this vision is the use of knowledge to further human condition. The vision is built upon the principles of freedom of expression, cultural and linguistic diversity, universal access to information and knowledge, and quality education for all. In turn, this vision is enabled by the spread of digital technology and particularly upon Internet Universality principles of human rights, openness, accessibility and multi-stakeholder participation (UNESCO, 2015). The plurality of Knowledge Societies explicitly recognizes the diversity of contexts where knowledge is applied to inform societal-scale decisions.
In order to systematically apply knowledge to address the needs, further the aspirations, and enhance self-development capacities of societies, communities and individuals, the development of Knowledge Societies require guidance and coordination from the State, and its legislative, executive and judicial branches. The State is also needed to empower businesses, non-profits, academia, other non-state actors and the whole industrial sectors to contribute to the development and sustainability of the locally-appropriated Knowledge Societies. The main instruments through which the State can act to guide, coordinate and empower are public policies for Knowledge Societies. Such policies consider the overall responsibility of the State in steering and coordinating the construction and permanent development of Knowledge Societies suited to each national or local context’s specificities, needs, and potentials. As such policies articulate the intentions, objectives, targets and responsibilities assigned to various state and non-state actors concerning the development of locally appropriated Knowledge Societies, they allow public assessment of the achievements of these actors against policy goals and targets. In turn, this assessment is part of public engagement to evolve and align the design and implementation of such policies with the realities and experience on the ground.
Responding to the scarcity of methodological support in this area, the Knowledge Societies Policy Handbook is dedicated to the principles and practice of policymaking for Knowledge Societies. The Handbook aims to equip its readers that include policymakers, government officials, researchers, business and community leaders, and other contributors to policy processes for Knowledge Societies with systematic knowledge and practical tools to facilitate their contributions. The accompanying Knowledge Societies Policy Library further substantiates and illustrates the use of such knowledge and tools with case studies, evidences and relevant research and policy literature. In addition, the Handbook is meant to build the common understanding and enhance the collective capacity of different local or national stakeholders to learn from each other, to work across organizational, sectoral and thematic boundaries, and to coordinate action towards locally appropriated Knowledge Societies. To this end, the accompanying Knowledge Societies Policy Platform is intended to support coordination, sharing and learning as part of locally-appropriated policymaking processes, and in turn support the growth of the Knowledge Societies Policy Community.
Click on the covers below to access both documents.