Access to Information in Time of Crisis –
The UNESCO Information for All Programme Priorities and The COVID-19 Pandemic

3-day Online International Conference ::  August 26-28, 2020

Background

UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Information for All Programme (IFAP) works to build inclusive knowledge societies. IFAP supports member states to develop policies that ensure citizens’ access to digital technologies, including access to content on a free, open and secure internet that is in line with UNESCO’s ROAM[1] principles.  

The increasing reliance on digital technologies during the time of the COVID 19 pandemic has called the world’s attention to the impact of digital divides on the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

IFAP, therefore, is drawing on its global network to convene this meeting to examine the implications of the global emergency within the framework of its existing priority areas. These are information accessibility, information preservation, media and information literacy, information ethics, information for development and multilingualism in cyberspace. 

This conference is part of the preparatory activities for the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) which will be celebrated on September 28, 2020. IDUAI 2020 will focus on the right to information in times of crisis and on the advantages of having constitutional, statutory and/or 

policy guarantees for public access to information to save lives, build trust and help the formulation of sustainable policies through and beyond the COVID-19 crisis[2].

IFAP provides a platform for all stakeholders to participate in international discussions on policy and guidelines in the area of access to information (https://en.unesco.org/programme/ifap). 

The lead partners for this meeting, notably the India Centre for Information Ethics at the University of Hyderabad India; the Russian National IFAP Committee, Interregional Library Cooperation Centre (Russian Federation); the African Centre for Information Ethics at the University of Pretoria, South Africa and the UNESCO Chair on Language Policies for Multilingualism, University of Santa Catarina (Brazil) have made substantive contributions to the work of IFAP, including supporting the formulation of key declarations, such as the Khanty-Mansiysk Declaration, 2019 (http://www.ifapcom.ru/en), and the Cape Town Declaration, 2018 (https://www.up.ac.za/media/shared/609/ZP_Files/Conferences/cape-town-declaration_final.zp163374.pdf

[1] R-Rights Based, O-Open, A-Accessible, M-Multistakeholder
[2] Recognizing the significance of access to information, the 74th UN General Assembly proclaimed 28 September as the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) in October 2019. The day had been proclaimed by the UNESCO General Conference in 2015. (https://en.unesco.org/commemorations/accesstoinformationday; https://en.unesco.org/sites/default/files/cn_iduai_2020.pdf).

Aim

Adopting the IFAP inter-disciplinary and cross-sectoral framework, the conference aims to promote inclusive dialogue around IFAP’s six priority areas and questions relating to access to information in crisis situations. New research findings, key policy issues and interventions will address gaps and promote the sharing of best practices. The policy dialogue should yield recommendations that will feed into IDUAI 2020.

1. Information for Development

   Themes

  • How can monitoring and reporting measurements of SDG 16.10.2 be implemented to respond to health crises?
  • How can access to information legislations contribute to the reduction of inequalities?
  • How can access to information build resilience to avoid future crises?

2. Information Literacy

   Themes

  • What is the role of media and information literacy in combating the COVID-19 infodemic?
  • How can countries ensure access to information to persons with disabilities during times of crisis?
  • How can the use of innovative technology in access to information mechanisms answer to overcome the gender gap in information literacy?

3. Information Preservation

   Themes

  • Does the governmental provision of pandemic-related information and data impact the response to a crisis?
  • How can investments in information collection, provision and storage technologies build resilience and strengthen crisis management?

4. Information Ethics

   Themes

  • How do countries maintain the right to privacy while respecting the right to information during times of crisis?
  • What are some of the best practices in access to information practices that honour people’s entitlement to privacy?

5. Information Accessibility

     Themes

  • How can open data facilitate collaborations and partnerships to address the challenges of the pandemic?
  • What is the role of proactive disclosure in meditating crises?
  • How can innovative technologies be implemented to overcome exclusion in times of crisis?

6. Multilingualism

     Themes

  • How can multilingualism in access to information save lives during times of the pandemic and help avoid a future crisis?
  • How do countries ensure access to information in minority languages to protect disadvantaged populations?

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Organised by 

India Centre of Excellence for Information Ethics (ICEIE), Centre for Digital Learning, Training and Resources (CDLTR), University of Hyderabad (India)
African Centre of Excellence for Information Ethics (ACEIE),University of Pretoria (South Africa)
Russian National IFAP Committee, Interregional Library Cooperation Centre (Russian Federation)
UNESCO Chair on Language Policies for Multilingualism,University of Santa Catarina (Brazil)
Information for All Programme(IFAP), UNESCO (Paris)

under the Auspices of
UNESCO Intergovernmental Information for All Programme (IFAP)

Organising Committee

  • Prabhakar Rao Jandhyala, Director, India Centre of Excellence for Information Ethics, Centre for Applied Linguistics and Translation Studies (CALTS), University of Hyderabad, India – Chairperson 
  • Dorothy Gordon, Chair of the UNESCO IFAP Intergovernmental Council, Ghana
  • Evgeny Kuzmin, Vice-Chair of the IFAP Intergovernmental Council, Chair of the UNESCO IFAP Working Group on Multilingualism in Cyberspace, Chair of the Russian National IFAP Committee, President of the Interregional Library Cooperation Centre, Russian Federation
  • Coetzee Bester, Director African Centre of Excellence for Information Ethics (ACEIE), University of Pretoria, South Africa
  • Gilvan Muller de Oliveira, Professor, Federal University of Santa Catarina & Head, UNESCO Chair on Language Policies for Multilingualism, Brazil
  • Siva Prasad Rambhatla, Formerly Professor of Anthropology, Honorary Professor, Centre for Digital Learning, Training and Resources (CDLTR), University of Hyderabad, India
  • Vasuki Belavadi, Director, Centre for Digital Learning, Training and Resources (CDLTR), University of Hyderabad, India
  • Rachel Fischer, Co-Chair International Centre for Information Ethics, South Africa.