Association for Progressive Communications

Association for Progressive Communications

The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) is an international network of organizations that was founded in 1990 to provide communication infrastructure, including Internet-based applications, to groups and individuals who work for peace, human rights, protection of the environment, and sustainability. Pioneering the use of ICTs for civil society, especially in developing countries, APC were often the first providers of Internet in their member countries.

According to GreenNet, one of the founder members of the APC, "The APC currently has 25 member networks serving over 50,000 activists, non-profit organisations, charities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in over 133 countries. The APC is committed to supporting international links with Southern member and partner networks." [ [ About GreenNet ] ]


The co-founders of APC are:

* Institute for Global Communications (IGC), San Francisco;
* GreenNet, London;
* IBASE, Rio de Janeiro;
* Nicarao, Managua;
* Pegasus Networks, Byron Bay; and
* Web Networks, Toronto.
* NordNet, Sweden

Recent activities

In 2005, the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) was involved in organizing civil society participation in the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), a process of which the organization had a mixed evaluation.

APC prizes

Through its "Betinho", "Hafkin" and "Chris Nicol" communications prizes, APC recognises and documents outstanding ICT contributions that significantly impact the world's communities.


APC's ActionApps offer a low cost solution for content sharing that both increases the functionality of not-for-profit and NGO websites, and facilitates the creation of portals sites so as to improve the visibility of civil society information. They are driven by free software.

Executive board members

APC's executive board members (for the October 2005-2007) period are: Natasha Primo of South Africa, as chair; Olinca Marino of Mexico as vice-chair; Danijela Babic of Croatia as secretary; Mark Graham of USA as treasurer; Mihaly Bako of Romania; Danilo Lujambio of Argentina; Kong Sidaroth of Cambodia; Valentina Pellizzer of Italy with John Dada of Nigeria and Andrew Garton of Australia as alternates and Anriette Esterhuysen, APC's executive director, as an ex-officio member.

APC milestones


* PeaceNet, a network of peace activists, was established in the United States as a project of the Foundation for the Arts of Peace, through the cooperation of four organisations: Community Data Processing, Center for Innovative Diplomacy, Ark Foundation, and Foundation for the Arts of Peace.
* GreenNet was founded in the United Kingdom to develop electronic networking for environmental and civil society organisations.


* EcoNet, a U.S.-based environmental network created by the Farallones Institute, was acquired by PeaceNet. EcoNet/PeaceNet later became the Institute for Global Communications (IGC).
* The idea of linking progressive networks for e-mail and information sharing was formulated by Mark Graham and Mitra Ardron, founding members of PeaceNet/IGC and GreenNet. Working with emerging national networks, rather than expanding into other countries, was defined as a guiding principle from the outset.


* IGC in the U.S. and GreenNet in the UK created a transatlantic computer link-up, to connect their separate e-mail and computer conferencing networks.
* Web Network's earliest incarnation started up in Canada. Called NIRV Center, it was conceived at the 1986 "Fate of the Earth Conference" by a group of Toronto environmentalists, and was Canada's first non-profit computer network serving non-profit and social change organisations;
* The name Association for Progressive Communications (APC) was invented in the New York hotel room of rock star Peter Gabriel, by Mark Graham, Mitra Ardron and media activists.
* The basis for an APC constitution was outlined at a meeting in IGC's office in San Francisco.
* WorkNet (which later became SANGONeT) was founded as an e-mail network and bulletin board for the labour movement in South Africa. International connectivity was initially secured through GeoNet in London and soon after through GreenNet.


* Collaboration between APC and the United Nations began, in preparation for the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), more popularly known as the Earth Summit. As APC had the only international, civil society communications network in existence at that time, the UNCED secretariat published their information in APC conferences. They had no other way of distributing information so economically and so effectively. (The UN itself began distributing information by electronic means many years later).
* WorkNet from South Africa, IGC, GreenNet and Alternex (the communications branch of IBASE, the Portuguese acronym of the Brazilian Institute for Social and Economic Analysis) met at an Interdoc meeting in the Netherlands in 1989.


* APC was founded by IGC (USA), GreenNet (UK), NordNet (Sweden), Web Networks (Canada), Alternex/IBASE (Brazil), Nicarao/CRIES (Nicaragua), and Pegasus (Australia).
* The GnFido (GreenNet Fidonet) gateway at GreenNet provided the first means of exchanging e-mail between e-mail hosts in Africa and the rest of the world. By 1994, GnFido provided Internet gateway services to over 50 e-mail hosts in Africa, Asia and Central and Eastern Europe.
* Members of IGC and the German CL-Net visited Moscow and returned the following year to help Russian activists get GlasNet running, to facilitate the emerging civil society's communication during the fall of communism in Russia.


* Southern and Northern NGOs meeting in Nairobi identified e-mail and the APC conferences as a tool for distance-lobbying the Earth Summit. Chasque, a network created by the Third World Institute (ITeM) in Uruguay, and IGC set up the first e-mail and conference system running from the UN itself in New York, during a preparatory meeting for the Earth Summit.
* A Fidonet gateway was set up by roving technician, Mike Jensen, at WorkNet/SANGONeT in South Africa, providing Internet mail connections to Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana.
* The first meeting of APC partners in southern Africa was hosted by WorkNet/SANGONeT in Johannesburg, supported through a project with Web Networks and Alternatives (then CIDMAA) in Canada.
* Chasque in Uruguay, GlasNet in Russia and ComLink in Germany joined the APC.


* APC provided the first online communications centre for NGOs and UN delegates at a UN conference — the Rio Earth Summit.
* In September, over 17,000 users in 94 countries were using APC networks.
* INTERCOM in Ecuador became the eleventh APC member.
* IGC hosted the first APC Council meeting in San Francisco.


* APC facilitated electronic communications for the UN Commission on Sustainable Development.
* ComLink/CL-Net provided connectivity at the UN Conference on Human Rights in Vienna.
* The APC Women's Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP) was established and began preparations for the UN World Conference on Women in Beijing (1995).
* GreenNet and Dutch group, Antenna, encouraged by Jagdish Parikh, established 'Asialink', a project providing start-up funding and technical support to small hosts in Asia working with social movements in their countries.
* The Green Spider telecommunications network started up to link environmental civil society organisations in Hungary.
* SANGONeT is the first African organisation to join APC.


* APC and Uruguayan member Chasque provided APC services at the UN International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo.
* An APC cost-sharing project was launched, with the objective of reducing the expense to people in Africa and Asia of receiving and sending e-mail.
* Several APC members attend the Internet Society's workshop for developing countries held in Prague. APC member staff acted as trainers and APC partner in the Czech Republic, Econnect provided logistical support for the workshop.
* Web Networks hosted an APC Council meeting just outside Toronto.
* The StrawberryNet Network was established in Romania, with the assistance of Green Spider.


* APC received consultative (Category 1) status to the UN, in June.
* NordNet from Sweden lead a group of local Danish communications activists in setting up electronic communications at the UN World Summit on Social Development (WSSD) in Copenhagen. For the first time web browsers were available and the public were able to access an APC WSSD site.
* A 40-woman team of APC communications experts provided connectivity and training to NGO participants at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, and — as part of Media Caucus — ensured that the issue of women and ICTs was placed on the UN Agenda.
* APC technicians and training activists provided skills training at an informatics symposium hosted by Economic Commission for Africa in Ethiopia.
* Alternex/IBASE hosted an APC Council Meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


* SANGONeT hosted an APC-Africa-Women's technical training in Johannesburg for women system operators. Now that Internet access was becoming more widely available in some parts of the continent, Fidonet systems operators were given skills to make the transition to Internet.
* The first APC European Meeting was held in Slovenia. Other regional APC meetings were held in preparation for the 1997 APC Council meeting.


* APC partnered with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other international organisations to organise the Global Knowledge conference in Toronto. Web Networks, APC's Canadian member, brought together the hundreds of NGOs using ICTs for international development participating physically and virtually using a Website and e-mail.
* Web Networks and APC publishes the influential Working Together Online, which documents the lessons and techniques gained through APC experience in online networking.
* An APC Africa Strategy Development Meeting was held in Johannesburg with more than 35 participants from APC member and partner networks from all over Africa. A powerful statement from the meeting — the "Holy Family Communiqué" — outlined the position of development-oriented networks and information providers towards trends in private sector and donor investment in networking in Africa.
* The APC mission was formalised at APC Council's meeting in South Africa, hosted at Itala by SANGONeT.


* APC's Mexican network, LaNeta, hosted an APC Council meeting in Oaxaca, Mexico and an APC Europe Meeting was held in Nijmegen, Netherlands.
* BlueLink, the information network of Bulgarian environmental organisations, was founded, inspired by Hungary's Green Spider network.


* The first "World APC Techie Conference" brought together technical directors from all over the APC community in Prague.
* An APC - Central Europe meeting was held in Kwacany, Slovakia.


* APC facilitated and provided consultation and research services for the "Access" track of the Action Summit at the second Global Knowledge conference in Kuala Lumpur. The Action Summit created a plan of action for the Global Knowledge partner organisations, which included various government-related development agencies, companies, and NGOs involved in the development and ICT field.
* The APC WNSP co-coordinated a women's network (WomenAction 2000) to bring an NGO perspective to the UN Beijing +5 review.
* The first ever APC Betinho Communications Prize to recognise the socially meaningful use of ICTs was awarded to the Max Foundation, a life-saving online support network for the families of children suffering from leukaemia in Latin America, and host of the region's first online bone marrow tissue registry.
* The APC Action Areas for 2000-2001 emerged at the APC Council meeting in Visegrád, Hungary, hosted by Green Spider.
* BlueLink from Bulgaria and Strawberry Net from Romania joined the APC.

APC members

North America

* Alternatives, Action and Communication Network for International Development, Canada
* Institute for Global Communications (IGC), United States of America
* LaborNet, United States of America
* LaNeta, Mexico
* Web Networks, Canada

outh America

* CEPES, Peru
* Colnodo, Colombia
* Fundación Escuela Latinoamericana de Reds (ESLARED), Venezuela
* INTERCOM Nodo Ecuanex, Ecuador
* Instituto del Tercer Mundo, Uruguay
* NODO TAU, Argentina
* RITS (Information Network for the Third Sector), Brazil


* BlueLink Information Network, Bulgaria
* ChangeNet, Slovakia
* ComLink, Germany
* Computer Aid International, United Kingdom
* Econnect, Czech Republic
* GreenNet, United Kingdom
* GreenSpider, Hungary
* Pangea, Spain
* StrawberryNet, Romania
* Unimondo, Italy
* ZaMirNet, Croatia

North & West Africa

* ArabDev, Egypt
* Enda-Tiers Monde, Senegal
* Fantsuam Foundation, Nigeria

outh & East Africa

* Arid Lands Information Network (East Africa), Kenya
* Community Education Computer Society (CECS), South Africa
* SANGONeT, South Africa
* Ungana-Afrika, South Africa
* Women'sNet, South Africa
* WOUGNET - Women of Uganda Network, Uganda


* Bytes for, South Asia
*, Australia] (c2o)
* Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA), Philippines
* JCA-NET, Japan
* Korean Progressive Network Jinbonet, South Korea
* Open Forum of Cambodia, Cambodia
* WomensHub, Philippines

For the current term (October 2005-2007), the executive board members consist of Natasha Primo of South Africa (chair), Olinca Marino of Mexico (vice-chair), Daijela Babic of Croatia (secretary), Mark Graham of USA (treasurer), Mihaly Bako of Romania, Danilo Lujambio of Argentina, Kong Sidaroth of Cambodia, Valentina Pellizzer of Italy, and with John Dada of Nigeria and Andrew Garton of Australia as alternates.


Online privacy and data protection consultancy firm ‘80/20 Thinking’ is partnering with the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) since the beginning of 2008. The aim of the partnership is to support initiatives in developing countries that are working towards strengthening democratic processes and civil liberties.

Fifty percent of 80/20 Thinking’s profits will be managed and distributed by APC under the agreement. The partnership will offer a form of independent income that we can be used to further APC’s internet rights agenda.

80/20 Thinking, as network of advisors and consultants, helps firms such as Facebook, Yahoo, and AOL to deal “proactively and ethically with the challenges they face.” This includes providing a wide spectrum of privacy training and services: from the creation of Privacy Impact Assessments through to in-company, consulting services, risk assessments and general enrollment training courses.APC has worked with some of 80/20 Thinking’s professionals during the United Nations initiated Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in the last two years. Online privacy and security trainings have also been conducted together in Asia. APC’s Karen Banks has worked with 80/20 Thinking professionals since the late 1990s on internet rights and civil liberties issues. Gus Hosein, on of 80/20 Thinking’s main avisor has even contributed to several APC publications. Over time, they have become strong allies of APC, providing support, advice and guidance for staff and members.Information about the 80/20_Thinking_Limited, it’s work, it’s people and it’s ethics, can be found on this link []

The latest article about 80/20 Thinking can be read in the Financial Times from this link []

[] Source of information

Notes and references

* APC Annual Report 2000
* APC WNSP. "Women's Networking and ICTs: The character, achievements and challenges past and present of the APC Women's Networking Support Programme", APC Annual Report 2000
* Brian Murphy. "The Founding of APC: Coincidences and Logical Steps in Global Civil Society Networking", APC Annual Report 2000
* Brian Murphy. "Mike Jensen and the Code that stitched together the APC: The Pre-Internet Days and Early Efforts at Linking APC Nodes", APC Annual Report 2000
* Karen Banks. "Fidonet: The 'Critical Mass' technology", APC Annual Report 2000
* Roberto Elissalde, "Need and Chance: APC in the Global South and the rise of some strong Southern members", APC Annual Report 2000
* Rory O'Brien. "Enabling Civil Society Participation in Global Policy-Making: APC and the United Nations", APC Annual Report 2000
* Mitra Ardron's archive of early APC material
* [ History of APC]

External links

* [ The Association for Progressive Communications] (English and Spanish)
* [ APC English site]
* [ APC's blog, specially active during WSIS 2005]

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