There are four main reasons why countries around the world are concerned with Knowledge Society construction. First, the public sector can be a key agent in orienting the society towards a new model of social and economic organization, based on information and knowledge and sustained by digital technologies. Second, in order to appropriate the opportunities for innovation which evolve from the fast technological progress and from the production and circulation of information and knowledge, while reducing inequity and attaining better social and digital inclusion, public policies that balance economic and social development must be developed, implemented, assessed, and periodically updated. Third, governments at all levels undergo a transformation through intensive use of digital technology that result in greater transparency and efficiency, improved interactions with citizens, and a model for the rest of the society to embrace socially-appropriate digital technology, information and knowledge. Fourth, businesses, citizen organizations and other non-government stakeholders are all involved in building sectors of Knowledge Societies and adapting them to the national, regional or local contexts. The coordination of these four factors and balancing of different dimensions of sustainable development depending on the context require guidance from Knowledge Society Policies.
Knowledge Society Policy considers the overall responsibility of the state in steering and coordinating the construction and permanent development of a Knowledge Society suited to each country’s context, specificities, needs, and potentials. Such a policy shows the objectives, intentions and engagements of government and other stakeholders concerning Knowledge Society development, allowing citizens to measure and appraise or criticize the achievements of these stakeholders. The policy is a culmination of a public discussion that relates access and social appropriation of digital technologies with public policy-making.
The project responds to the scarcity of methodological support to guide the development and implementation of Knowledge Society Policies, by offering a Handbook to support national, regional, and local-level governments working with businesses, community organizations and other non-government stakeholders in creating, implementing and updating such instruments. The project has three objectives, First, to update the publication “National Information Society Policy: A Template”, produced by UNESCO/IFAP in 2009, and transform it into the “Knowledge Society Policy Handbook”. Second, to convert this updated publication into a digital platform for knowledge sharing to host tools, demos, policy resources, case studies, life discussions, and online trainings to support Member States in the development, review and implementation of their Knowledge Society policies and strategies. Third, to support the development of a global research and policy community including contributors, adopters, and users, around this platform. The Handbook will provide general information and detailed guidance on the formulation of Knowledge Societies policies, supported by examples of implemented public policies, processes, mechanisms and information sources at different levels. Adaptable to countries in different contexts and development levels, and lending itself to implementation by different governmental bodies in coordination with non-government stakeholders, the Handbook will provide a “how to” guide aimed at preparing and updating a Knowledge Society Policy proposal.