USP Tonga Campus part of Digital Democracy Launch in Tonga


The University of the South Pacific (USP) Tonga Campus was part of the recent launch of Digital Democracy at the Island Kingdom.

A European Union and United Nations Development Programme-supported initiative, ‘Digital Democracy’, is a project that will help design regulatory frameworks and build the capacities of civil society organisations and governments to design and roll out people-centred, gender-sensitive, and rights-based digitalisation initiatives.

The project will take a direct support and mentoring approach when partnering with CSOs, providing a small grants facility to build public awareness of citizens’ digital rights and the potential of ICTs for e-government and e-participation. The project aims to cover Tonga, Fiji, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Solomon Islands.

In a panel discussion held during the official launch, USP Tonga Campus Director Dr Robin Havea talked about Digital Democracy matters.

Dr Havea shared that a Digital Democracy can encompass various aspects, such as online voting, participatory budgeting, crowdsourcing ideas, e-Governance, and interactive consultations.

Dr Havea reminded the audience that are also some major issues regarding democracy and human rights that are central to Digital Democracy that, include political instability and ethnic tensions, gender-based violence, restricted freedom of information and expression, the right to information, transparency and accountability, gender equality, and barriers for civil society participation.

“Despite being relatively new, this is a very broad area, and please allow me to share some relevant information which I refer to as the USP experience on digital transformation with pointers to Digital Democracy,” he said.

Dr Havea said, “At USP, we have been involved in various initiatives related to Digital Democracy in the South Pacific, some of which may be in the following ways that include research and education, and capacity building.”

He added that through the work of the CROP ICT Working Group, of which USP is the Lead Organisation, USP facilitates training and capacity-building programmes for government officials, civil servants, and other stakeholders in the South Pacific through global partners.

“These programs focus on enhancing digital literacy, promoting effective use of digital tools for democratic processes, and developing skills for e-Governance and digital inclusion,” Dr Have added.

He also highlighted that with the UNDP Digital Democracy Project, USP increasingly seeks to collaborate with regional and international organisations, governments, and NGOs to promote Digital Democracy. Through partnerships, USP can contribute to joint initiatives, research projects, and capacity-building programs aimed at advancing Digital Democracy and inclusive governance in the South Pacific.



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