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, nonprofits, 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.
The Handbook starts by building the terminology and conceptual underpinnings of Knowledge Societies, and explains the nature of policymaking for Knowledge Societies in general and in different contexts: local versus national, national versus international, research versus practice, etc. Next, the Handbook explains constituent elements of public policies for Knowledge Societies including vision, principles, stakeholders, networks, governance and evolution, and grounds the concept in the Sustainable Development Goals framework. Building upon the foundation, the Handbook puts forward possible structure for Knowledge Societies policymaking – a Knowledge Societies system model with governance, economy, environment, civil society, education and research, and infocomm dimensions. It also elaborates major policy concerns in terms of this model – how people and organizations should be prepared for Knowledge Societies in terms of access, skills and opportunities, human resource development, beneficial use and beneficial participation. The process of building public policy for Knowledge Societies is explained next, in terms of seven stages (or components): contextualizing and diagnosing, visioning and goal-setting, analyzing and designing, implementing, updating and sustaining, monitoring and evaluating, and communicating. Each component is supported with concrete ready-to-use techniques. Following the process, the Handbook explains how public policies for Knowledge Societies can be adapted to different contexts and how such instruments can be transferred from one context to another. Finally, the digitization (Platform) and socialization (Community) of the Handbook are outlined.
The rest of this document is structured as follows. Chapter 2 (Background) explains how to understand Knowledge Societies. Chapter 3 (Foundations) provides constituent elements of policymaking for Knowledge Societies. Chapter 4 (Conceptual Framework) introduces a structure on public policy for Knowledge Societies. Chapter 5 (Process) explains how such policies could be systematically built. Chapter 6 (Adaptation and Transfer) focuses on the localization of policymaking for Knowledge Societies. Chapter 7 (Platform and Community) explains the digitization and socialization of the Handbook. The final Chapter 8 provides some conclusions, and set of references closes the Handbook.