Completion of Digital Democracy Governance Workshop at USP Tonga Campus

 

The University of the South Pacific (USP) team has successfully concluded a four-day workshop from 25-28 June as part of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-funded “Digital Democracy Governance Initiative (PDGI)” project.

The PGDI project aims to support Fiji, Tonga, Solomon Islands, and FSM, via a human rights-based approach, in pursuing their digitalisation strategies. Held at the USP Tonga Campus, this workshop brought together a diverse group of participants from various Tongan government ministries, aiming to train them on different aspects of digital governance to enhance and take new initiatives in digital governance in Tonga.

The workshop team of Professor Sushil Kumar, Director of Research; Dr Subhash Appanna; Ms Margret Kensen; and Ms Shailin Mala, administered and conducted the workshop, which was dedicated to supporting Tonga in advancing its digitalisation strategies to strengthen state-society relations.

Luke Lusting-Bruce, Governance Officer at UNDP, inaugurated the workshop with a compelling address, emphasising the critical importance of the initiative. He highlighted the transformative potential of digital technologies in fostering robust and inclusive democratic processes, stressing that digital democracy is about leveraging technology to empower citizens, facilitate transparent governance, and foster participatory decision-making.

In his address, Professor Sushil Kumar presented the scope and challenges of the transformative potential of digitalization, e-government, and e-participation.

He underscored that IT tools of digitalisation can streamline administrative processes, enhance service delivery, and create transparent and accountable governance structures. Professor Kumar pointed out the significant opportunities for Tonga to fully exploit the benefits of e-government and e-participation platforms to promote inclusive decision-making.

Dr Robin Havea, USP Tonga Campus Director, emphasised the significance of hosting the workshop in Tonga. He highlighted that the insights and strategies developed during the workshop will empower Tongan institutions to leverage digital technologies for more transparent, inclusive, and efficient governance.

The workshop focused on building participants’ capacities to design and implement people-centered, gender-sensitive, and rights-based digitalisation initiatives. It provided a platform for sharing regional and global best practices and lessons learned, aiming to enhance capacities for digital governance that create value for society.

As Tonga moves towards digitising its governance frameworks, the workshop laid a strong foundation for future digital initiatives. By fostering collaboration among stakeholders and promoting innovation, the workshop aimed to create a supportive environment for digital governance in Tonga. The insights gained and networks formed during the workshop are expected to significantly advance digital democracy in Tonga, leading to more inclusive, responsive, and accountable governance.

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