Building peace in the minds of men and women

IPDCtalks mark the second International Day for Universal Access to Information

03 October 2017

On 28 September, and for the second consecutive year, UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) held the IPDCtalks: Powering sustainable development with access to information, an event marking the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI).

Streamed live across the world, the IPDCtalks event at UNESCO HQ in Paris highlighted the essential role that access to information plays in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In parallel, IPDCtalks took place in ten other cities around the world.

The HQ event gathered local and global stakeholders, public leaders, community front-runners, leading investigative journalists, media experts and other intellectuals. In rapid-fire 10 minute talks, the speakers told stories to illustrate a wide range of topics around access to information, media development and ICTs and their essential role in achieving different SDGs.

Yemen’s first female Minister of Information, Nadia Al-Sakkaf spoke about her experience in using social media to keep her country’s citizens informed when mainstream media was seized in 2015. Gwen Lister, founder of the Namibian newspaper highlighted the enduring credibility of independent journalism as a contribution to development.

Many speakers stressed the importance of access to information in context. Ms Al-Sakkaf summed up the insight: “Without human rights and gender equality, development cannot be inclusive.”.

An outstanding music performance by sign-language artist Signmark exemplified how access to information is essential for those who cannot hear or speak to participate in society. Signmark explained to the audience that he perceived himself as being part of a linguistic minority, rather than being disabled.

He argued that society should not patronize the ‘disabled’, but rather focus on fostering their integration through access to information.  “The reason I need an interpreter here is because the audience cannot speak my language,” he noted.

Tarja Halonen, former President of Finland, focused on how press freedom and the public right to know are key for reducing inequalities, while Ms Natalia Soebagjo, Chair of Transparency International’s Executive Board described how corruption and bribery undermine the progress of the SDGs, hence the need for media and transparency.

The IPDCtalks were actively promoted during the live TV show ‘Democracy Now!’, and some of the  IPDCtalks speakers were guests at the live TV show. Democracy Now! is a news hour broadcast on over 1500 public television and radio stations in the US and around the world with an approximate audience of 1 million people per TV show.

All speakers recorded a powerful video message during the event. Watch Amy Goodman’s video message on how media can be the greatest force for peace on Earth here:

Other video messages and full videos of the Talks will be soon available on the IPDCtalks-website:

More than 350 people participated the inspiring Talks in Paris. Amongst the audience were UNESCO Member State delegations, media experts, representatives of international organizations, NGOs and many students.

On social media, the IPDCtalks drew worldwide attention as the hashtag #IPDCtalks was trending topic on Twitter in more than nine countries. The hashtag had an estimated reach of over 8,4 million people..

But the IPDCtalks 2017 were not only held in Paris. The event also took place in ten other countries in Africa, Latin America, the Middle-East region and Asia and the Pacific, with important audiences as well as media and social media attention in every location.

Overall, the IPDCtalks managed to raise visibility and awareness among Member States, media organizations, NGOs and the general public on the vital role that access to information plays in achieving each of the SDGs.

The organization of the IPDCtalks was possible thanks to the support received from The Netherlands, The Paris event was also supported by Finland and Lithuania, while the regional events received financial support from local donors and sponsors.