IPDC Council encourages further development of mechanism to monitor and report on access to information

04 December 2018

SDG Indicator 16.10.2 looks into “number of countries that adopt and implement constitutional, statutory and/or policy guarantees for public access to information”. This contributes to target 16.10, which aims at ensuring public access to information and the protection of fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.

The IPDC is a multilateral forum in the UN system with a mandate to contribute to sustainable development, democracy and good governance through media development. The Programme aims to strengthen the capacities of free and independent media by mobilizing international support and supporting grassroots projects.

The IPDC’s Council is composed of 39 Member States elected by UNESCO’s General Conference, ensuring equitable geographical distribution and appropriate rotation. The Council meets every two years and is responsible for policy-making, planning and deciding on the implementation, and approving the Programmes’ priorities.

A Thematic Debate on access to information started with highlights from three media specialists on the situation of access to information legislations, challenges regarding the right to information (RTI) and future steps that should be considered.

Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe, presented the Open Government Partnership (OGP) as a tool for reformers to make their governments more “open, accountable, and responsive to citizens”. She also highlighted the important results that would arise from developing a methodology to measure the implementation of SDG 16.10.2, and from setting up pilot studies to apply the methodology in several countries.

Speaker Shyamlal Yadav investigative journalist at the Indian Express and author of “Journalism through RTI: Information, Investigation, Impact”, drew attention to the significance of RTI legislations that he considers to be key “in the post-truth and post-fact era, while the media is struggling for credible information”.

Adrián Alcalá Méndez Secretary for Access to Information of Mexicos’ National Institute for Transparency, Access to Information and Personal Data Protection called for “appropriate collaboration and contribution” in order to “seeks the construction of a common theoretical model for measuring the process of access to information.”

Following these interventions and substantial debates from Member States, important decisions were taken by the Council by consensus.

The Council encouraged IPDC organs (the Secretariat, Council and Bureau) to keep supporting projects in data collection and to develop a mechanism that would assist Member States in collecting data and reporting on SDG indicator 16.10.2.

Reporting on SDG indicator 16.10.2 on access to information was further highlighted as the Council called for cooperation between the IPDC and UNESCO’s Information For All Programme on the matter, mainly through the publishing of a biennial report on global progress.

The report is meant to give visibility to national efforts on access to information and to further sensitizing relevant stakeholders on the important role played by access to information in achieving development goals.

The Council also encouraged Member States to monitor progress on access to information through the 2019 Voluntary National Reviews, which offers a tool for the follow-up and review mechanisms on SDG 16.

Finally, the Council requested the IPDC Secretariat to report to the next IPDC Bureau and Council on the progress made on access to information, taking into account the results of the UN High Level Political Forum.

The UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF) will take place in 2019 to review Member States’ progress on Goal 16.

UNESCO is the lead UN agency for reporting progress of SDG 16.10.2, and a contributing agency to 16.10.1 on the safety of journalists. The data collected for 16.10.2 is significant in mapping global progress towards SDG 16 and fulfilling UNESCO’s mandate as Custodian agency on indicator 16.10.2.

The IPDC Bureau will meet next year in 2019, and the next IPDC Council is scheduled for November 2020. All the information regarding the 31st Council Meeting can be found here.