UNESCO pilots global data collection on access to information


UNESCO has kicked off global data collection on the implementation of access-to-information (ATI) laws in 43 countries, putting its monitoring and reporting instruments for SDG indicator 16.10.2 to the test.

As the custodian agency for indicator 16.10.2 on access to information, UNESCO is mandated to monitor and report on the “number of countries that adopt and implement constitutional, statutory and/or policy guarantees for public access to information”.

The data collected through the global exercise will be significant for UNESCO in mapping global progress towards ATI commitments.

For Member States, who are the primary duty-bearers with an obligation to monitor and report progress towards SDGs, the findings can help enrich their own national and global reporting, such as to national stakeholders and at the 2019 and subsequent United Nations High-level Political Forum (UN HLPF) on Sustainable Development Goals.

The 43 pilot countries selected for this global data collection are developing and least developed countries that will submit their Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) to the UN HLPF in July this year, in which Goal 16 will be under review.

These countries are Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad,  Chile, Congo  (Republic  of  the), Côte  d'Ivoire, Croatia, El  Salvador,  Eritrea,  Eswatini  (Swaziland),  Fiji,  Ghana, Guatemala, Guyana,  Indonesia,  Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lesotho, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mongolia, Nauru, Pakistan, Palau, Philippines, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and United Republic of Tanzania.

Funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the global data exercise is being carried out in collaboration with UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) using UNESCO’s set of reporting and monitoring instruments for indicator 16.10.2. UNESCO developed the instruments in close consultations with experts, CSOs, concerned organizations and other UN agencies.

According to Guy Berger, UNESCO Director for Freedom of Expression and Media Development, the instruments provide Member States with a standardised approach to track their progress on access to information at national level.

“While each country may tailor its systems of Voluntary National Reviews to its own needs, budgets and capacities, there is value in encouraging a level of commonality which enables aggregation at a global level, so as to provide a picture of the trends for the world as a whole,” he said, adding that the resulting information from the global exercise will be presented at a side-event during the UN HLPF this year.

The development of the monitoring and reporting instruments for indicator 16.10.2 is in line with the decision of the 31st Session of the Intergovernmental Council of the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), which encouraged the IPDC Secretariat to develop a mechanism that would assist Member States in collecting data and reporting on public access to information. The Council also requested the IPDC Secretariat to keep supporting projects in data collection on SDG 16.10.2.

With contributions from Germany and The Netherlands, the IPDC is currently implementing projects on SDG 16.10.2 in several developing and least-developed countries to reinforce the capacities of governments, media and civil society in tracking the progress towards on access to information, including supporting the development of  sustainable mechanisms for SDGs reporting and monitoring.