APC’s mission, formulated 30 years ago, has been the starting point of APC’s strategic priorities and plans throughout the years. In the consultations to develop APC’s strategic plan for 2020-2023, APC members, staff and partners affirmed the continuing relevance of this mission. At the same time, we realise the need to refocus APC’s vision and mission to leverage our network’s strength to contribute to transforming the systems of oppression and inequality that are being perpetuated and deepened by the ways in which digital technologies and spaces are being used, deployed, developed and governed.
This new strategic plan was developed as part of long-term reflection and visioning discussions within the APC network as it is turning 30 in 2020.
The outcome areas are prioritised areas of focus, for the period of the strategic plan, that represent the key achievements required to move closer to realising APC’s vision in consideration of the current and expected context.
Read APC's 2020-2023 strategic plan in full here.
Our mission is to create a just and sustainable world by harnessing the collective power of activists, organisations, excluded groups, communities and social movements, to challenge existing power structures and ensure that the internet is developed and governed as a global public good.
Harness collective power of communities
Enable digital inclusion of the most vulnerable
Co-create a feminist internet
Advocate for human rights online and offline
Promote governance of the internet as a global public good
Mobilise collective action for environmental justice and sustainability
Our vision is for people to use and shape the internet and digital technologies to create a just and sustainable world, leading to greater care for ourselves, each other and the earth.
In 2020, the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) turns 30 years old, and to commemorate this special date we have asked the members of our network about their vision for APC in the next 10 years to come.
While we are celebrating what has been achieved in the past three decades, at the same time we are looking forward to more years of harnessing the collective power of activists, organisations, excluded groups, communities and social movements to create a just and sustainable world, challenging existing power structures and ensuring that the internet is developed and governed as a global public good.
In the last four years, it has often felt like the internet is infected by an invisible virus that keeps mutating and taking different forms. Surveillance capitalism. Hate speech. Polarisation. Political manipulation. Disinformation. Data extraction. Online violence. As this intractable virus keeps shifting shape from one to the other, it has felt almost impossible to root out.More from Bishakha
Amidst this growing sense of despair, the APC network has worked relentlessly across 72 countries to keep alive the promise of a free and open internet. As activists, we are often so stretched, so caught up in doing what it takes to create change, that we forget to celebrate our victories, the impact we’ve had, the change that we have already created. That’s what I want to celebrate here.
Let’s start with policy and governance, where APC has been a prominent voice over the last four years, protecting the publicness of the internet and keeping governance itself accessible, democratic, transparent, accountable and inclusive. Our consistent policy advocacy resulted in the first-ever UN resolution on preventing and responding to digital violence against women and girls. We influenced the language and priority of issues in Human Rights Council resolutions and helped shape UN guidelines for online content regulation. More civil society actors from the global South now influence internet governance processes and, for the first time, the IGF included a main session on gender. These are all clappable things.
A feminist internet is part of our vision of a free and open internet, and in the last four years, we’ve infused the global digital conversation with feminist principles of the internet, bridged the gap between feminism and tech research, and brought more feminist and queer voices into policy and governance spaces. More claps and hugs.
A free and open internet has to be one that is for all, not some. In the last four years, we broke new ground to ensure that people who are digitally excluded have affordable and sustainable connectivity. We strengthened community networks in the global South, built capacity in communities, developed local knowledge and know-how, influenced policy makers, and had a visible impact in unconnected communities. That means a lot, especially today, when digital connectivity and resilience are pathways to all our rights.
During this time, our network has grown to 59 member organisations and 34 individual members from 72 countries. Among us, we’ve ensured that hundreds of journalists, bloggers, teen girls, feminists, and other human rights defenders are now safer online and are considering using open source technologies. We continually draw strength and resources from each other. Many of us came together – physically – at the global council meeting in 2017, where we shared more deeply, made friends and plans, and went back energised and invigorated. We will miss meeting in person at our next global council meeting in 2020, but hope to feel that camaraderie online.
All of us on the outgoing board of directors feel awe and wonderment at what we’ve done in the last four years. (Oh, and so do others, since we’ve got a bunch of awards.) It’s that quiet joy of creating bigger and bigger ripples and circles of change. It’s that patient chipping away at doing the right thing. As the German philosopher Rainer Maria Rilke once said, “Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart – live the question.” We continue to live the question. We work to find the answers. We have the resilience to root out that intractable virus from the internet and refresh it with hope. We will get there.
With thanks and hugs,
For APC, 2019 was a year of looking back and forward at the same time. 2019 was the end of our four-year strategic cycle. To begin a new one, we embarked on a year-long process of charting our strategic direction for the next four years.More from Chat
The previous pages of this impact report are brimming with stories of how the APC network has collectively contributed to change in the last four years – from enabling the emergence and growth of community connectivity initiatives in the global South, to reframing feminist organising and movement building in the digital age and reinforcing the exercise of human rights online through policy advocacy that contributed to international norms and standards, including the first UN resolution recognising online gender-based violence as a human rights violation. Over the last four years, APC brought over 200 civil society actors from the global South to the table in a concerted effort to ensure that diverse voices influence internet governance discussions and decision making.
From 2016 to 2019, APC disbursed over USD 2 million to support the work of APC member organisations to catalyse change at the grassroots level. In addition, APC contributed USD 400,000 to partnership initiatives with community networks and feminist, sexual rights and human rights activists and organisations in the global South.
APC has always derived its strength from the experience, expertise, activism and diversity of the people and organisations that make up its network. In 1990, APC was founded by seven organisations that formed a global network of networks with a deep commitment to making new communication technologies available to movements working for social change.
In looking forward, APC’s strategic planning called for deep reflection on our vision for change and mission as a global organisation and network that draws from our history and identity.
After 30 years, APC’s identity as a diverse and grounded community is stronger with members in 72 countries. Our network continues to be a home for people-centred technology innovators and practitioners who advocate and use technologies that are open source, privacy-respecting and sustainable. APC’s role as policy change actors who connect national, regional and global policy and practice has remained constant. Over the years, we have built APC into a powerful human rights and feminist network that influences discourse on human rights norms and standards, gender justice and feminist values in internet and digital technology policy, governance, development and practice. APC has become a trusted bridge builder, connector and convener linking movements, organisations and interests at national, regional and global levels to support communities and initiatives that promote the role of the internet in contributing to equitable and sustainable development, social justice and participatory political processes.
The APC network is the creative and potent force for change driving APC’s new vision and mission for 2020 onwards. We locate our activism firmly within social movements to challenge power structures towards realising our vision – where people use and shape the internet and digital technologies to create a just and sustainable world, leading to greater care for ourselves, each other and the earth.
In 2020, we had planned to bring our enduring network of activists, feminists, techies, advocates, environmentalists… and friends together in Mexico to celebrate our 30th anniversary and imagine what APC can and should be in 2030. Like everyone else, we had to cancel our physical meeting when the COVID-19 pandemic engulfed the world. But rather than locking down, we turned to those who are closest to us, and have become “closer than ever” through online connection – something we have been doing for several decades now, after all. For APC, this was and is our community, who share 30 years of collective activism and solidarity. It is the same network that will find ways to stay relevant, continue to resist, and thrive through this pandemic and in the coming decade.