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IPDC Talks celebrate the first-ever International Day for Universal Access to Information

30 September 2016

UNESCO marked the first International Day for Universal Access to Information with a prior event organized by the Organisation’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC).

Held on 26 September, two days before #AccessToInfoDay, the IPDCTalks was a day-long event themed “Powering sustainable development with public access to information”.

Streamed live across the world, and widely tweeted, IPDCTalks highlighted the key importance of Access to Information in the success of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Palagummi Sainath, Rural reporter, writer and journalism lecturer at the Sophia Polytechnic University in Chennai (India). © UNESCO

The event entailed a series of dynamic presentations by philosophers, journalists, intellectuals, entrepreneurs, community leaders and the Ghanian President, HE John Dramani Mahama.  Each spoke about how the contribution of media, information and ICT to achieving the different SDGs.

Vivid points were made about the need for policy makers to have information about school absenteeism by girls due to reasons of the cost of sanitary pads, and the role of investigative journalism in triggering official probes into companies allegedly concealing information about global warming.

Directly attending the IPDCTalks were some 100 members of UNESCO Member State delegations, media experts, journalism professionals, NGO workers and students.

John Dramani Mahama, President of Ghana. © UNESCO

The paramount importance of media, information and open societies for achieving development goals was underlined by Ghana’s president in his Keynote Closing Speech. He described experience in his country in relation to the role of information in achieving SDG 16, which aims at achieving peace and justice through strong institutions.

On social media, the event drew great interest. The hashtag #IPDCtalks trended in 3rd place in France at the end of the morning session, and was shared on Twitter some 600 times, with an estimated reach of over 2.3 million people according to an assessment of the numbers of followers of tweeters and retweeters.

The tag #AccessToInfoDay was also very active in the afternoon session, and key parts of the event were followed live on UNESCO’s Facebook account. This exposure stimulated extensive use of the tag over the next two days, culminating on 28 September as the formal International Day for Universal Access to Information.

A series of video clips was produced by a dedicated audio-visual crew and will shortly be made available on the event website: http://en.unesco.org/ipdc-talks

Participants agreed that the IPDCTalks had raised awareness among Member States, experts and the general public on the critical role played by access to information in achieving each of the SDGs.

It also served as a platform for visibility about the IPDC’s and UNESCO’s wider work and expertise in relation to the link between communications-information and sustainable development.

The event was supported financially by the Netherlands and Lithuania. It was also enriched by Sweden and Finland who sponsored a luncheon and unveiled an exhibition on the 250th anniversary of the world’s first access to information law in the territory of their modern day borders.

Alexandra Silfverstolpe Tolstoy, founder and head of Data Act Lab. © UNESCO