Democratic Potentials of UN Climate Change Conference Host Government Websites

Democratic Potentials of UN Climate Change Conference Host Government Websites

Catherine Candano (National University of Singapore, Singapore & Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8619-9.ch070
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Abstract

E-government discourse implicates state-produced Websites to enable opportunities and citizen spaces on policy issues, subject to demands to be inclusive, engaging, and free from commercial interests. Policy-making for a global issue like climate change takes place at the inter-governmental United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNCCC). It becomes critical to examine if and how the governments hosting this restrictive global policy-making space may engage citizens through their online presence—host country conference outreach Websites. The chapter explores relational underpinnings between states and citizens in such Websites by examining the values privileged by designers using mixed methods. Among UNCCC Websites from 2007 to 2009, the Danish government Website's enhanced features may have contributed to potential inclusivity for the inter-governmental process online compared to previous government's efforts. However, findings have shown such interactive Website's inherent design aspects may potentially shape the manner that climate conversations are limited in an assumed democratized space online.
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Introduction

E-government applies information communication technologies (ICTs) mainly for public sector’s benefit and improvement (Heeks, 2004). Bekkers and Homburg (1997) found in their multi-country study of government policies, ‘ICT’s contribution to a better government’ is one of the underlying myths that propel e-government discourse. As a contemporary anecdote, it is no surprise, for example, for one to see a new United States government’s web-portal, USA.gov, from the Obama administration claim “Better websites. Better government” (USA.gov, 2009). ‘Better websites’ understood by the GSA office of Citizen Services, the division responsible for U.S. Government’s online presence includes social media or Web 2.0 (platforms such as blogs, social networking sites, etc.). Applications of Web 2.0 technologies found in various agency websites such as Environment Protection Agency’s (EPA) Facebook page and National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) wiki were listed side-by-side with potential outreach gains for better government: blogs, for example, were cited to provide a ‘human face’ for government with an ‘informal tone’ (Table 1).

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