The right to access information highlighted by IFAP at its meeting in Malaysia
National Information for All Programme (IFAP) Committees from Mongolia, Thailand and Uzbekistan and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) policy makers, regulators and academia from Bangladesh, Cambodia, India and Malaysia, convened in Kula Lumpur on 11 September 2019 for an IFAP Working Group meeting on Information for Development, themed “IFAP Priorities: Information for Development New trends and Issues”.
Hosted by the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia Malaysia, with the support of UNESCO, the meeting was opened by the IFAP Chair, Ms Dorothy Gordon, who stressed that information and knowledge play a key role so that development is people-driven, relying on the potential of all including women and youth. The Secretary General of the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia Malaysia Ms Dato’ Suriani binti Dato’ Ahmad reminded the audience of the profound transformation being fuelled by changes in the management, role, value, and use of information, citing also the Malaysian response to these changes through the countries’ Multimedia Super Corridor, which promotes the Multimedia industry through a comprehensive policy in supporting the information sector. The Assistant Director General for Communication and Information, Mr Moez Chakchouk, confirmed that IFAP will support Member States in ensuring that the digital revolution is harnessed for eradicating poverty, empowerment, informed decision-making and human development, to strengthen the foundations of peace.
The meeting addressed issues that hinder access to and dissemination of information such as disinformation on social media and the lack of media and information literacy skills. India and Uzbekistan provided more insight on addressing the need for additional media and information literacy skills. CETIC.br also reiterated the importance of measurement for policy design and trends in measuring tangible outcomes and well-being in the digital economy. ICT also plays an important role in responding to new demands for monitoring the digital transformation and digital economy through high quality and timely data.
The Working Group Meeting was also an opportunity to share best practices in the area of information for development in the Asia-Pacific region. As an example, Malaysia’s National Fiberisation and Connectivity Plan was highlighted as a sound initiative to provide infrastructure; Thailand’s Net Pracharat was also presented as an effective initiative that makes information more accessible in an inclusive and equitable manner. The Information for Development Working Group took note of these and other examples that expand, secure and provide trustworthy ICT infrastructure in attaining rural inclusive sustainable development.
The meeting also discussed the importance of Freedom of Information laws and its role to foster a fundamental human right as well as its crucial role for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Pakistan provided details on adapting Freedom of Information Policy and the use ICT solutions in claiming this fundamental right.
The meeting ended with a commitment by the participants to continue its endeavor and focus its work on the main issues presented during the gathering.
The Information for All Programme (IFAP) was established in 2001 to provide a platform for international cooperation in the area of access to information and knowledge for the participation of all in the knowledge societies. IFAP is a unique UNESCO intergovernmental programme that focuses on ensuring that all people have access to information they can use to improve their lives. The IFAP Bureau consists of eight Member States nominated by the governing Council. It meets twice a year to appraise, select and approve projects as well as to hold thematic debates on issues of importance for the Programme.