UNESCO’s 2017 IDUAI Workshop to Explore How to Achieve the SDGs

Irina Bokova, Directors-General, UNESCO
Irina Bokova, Directors-General, UNESCO

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) will celebrate the 2017  International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) in Port Louis, Mauritius on September 28, 2017 focusing on the theme “Overcoming Divides and Achieving the SDGs”.

The 2017 IDUAI will be a high level event with the main event, scheduled for September 28, focusing on Universal Access to Information and Knowledge; International Cooperation on InfoEthics Achieving SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Good Institutions; and International Cooperation on Education and Digital Inclusion to “Leave no one behind”.

The main event will be followed by two days of activities comprising of workshops and technical sessions.

Five workshops will be organized at the IDUAI around the different themes including: InfoEthics, Foss policy, Open Access, OER Congress and YouthMobile.

The International Day for the Universal Access to Information, initially celebrated as “Right to Know Day” since 2002, is an international day designated by the UNESCO General Conference to be held on September 28 annually. It was inaugurated in November 2015 and was first commemorated on September 28, 2016.

UNESCO is a specialised agency of the United Nations system established to contribute to peace and security in the world by promoting collaboration among nations through education, science, culture and communication in order to further universal respect for justice and the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion.

UNESCO achieves its set objectives through various components including building knowledge societies, access to information, ethics of information, open solutions, internet governance and ICT in education.

UNESCO works to create inclusive knowledge societies and empower local communities by increasing access to and preservation and sharing of information and knowledge in all of UNESCO’s domains

It encourages Member States to establish and support national policies to promote multilingualism and universal access. In addition, it considers Internet access as a public information service and advocates that it should be encouraged by the adoption of appropriate policies. UNESCO asks Member States to recognize and enact the right to online access to public records and government administration records, including all the information citizens need in a modern democratic society, so to ensure the universal access to information in the public domain and its free flow, without geographical, economic or social discrimination.

In close cooperation with its Member States, UNESCO supports and promotes the ethical dimensions of the information society, which is one of the priorities of the Organization in its overall effort to implement the decisions of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

UNESCO’s Open Solutions Programme targets leaders, professionals, researchers and ICT users, supporting Communities of Practice, encouraging empirical research and publications, and organizing key events at global, regional, and national levels to share best practices, with comprehensive programmes in three areas: Open Educational Resources, Open Access to scientific information, and free and Open Source Software.

For UNESCO, Internet Governance is a central issue: it acknowledges the potential of the Internet for fostering sustainable human development and building inclusive knowledge societies, and also for enhancing the free flow of information and ideas throughout the world.

The Organization therefore advocates an open, transparent and inclusive approach to Internet Governance based on the principle of openness, encompassing the freedom of expression, respect for privacy, universal access and technical interoperability. Ethics and also the respect for cultural and linguistic diversity in cyberspace are other key concerns of UNESCO.

UNESCO says Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) play an increasingly important role in the way we communicate, learn and live and acknowledges the need to effectively harness these technologies in a way that serves the interests of learners and the larger teaching/learning community.

It considers that ICTs can contribute to universal access to education, equity in education, the delivery of quality learning and teaching, teachers’ professional development as well as improve education management, governance and administration provided the right mix of policies, technologies and capacities are in place. UNESCO therefore takes a comprehensive approach to ICTs in education.