Member State delegates showed strong interest last week in the information meeting of the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC).
Chaired by Ms Albana Shala, Chair of IPDC, the objective of the meeting was to update Member States on the development of the Internet Universality Indicators, progress on the monitoring of Sustainable Development Goal 16.10.2 on access to information, and the draft New Strategic Framework for the IPDC, along with the upcoming IPDCTalks, which have had year on year growth to celebrate the International Day for Universal Access to Information.
UNESCO Assistant Director General for Communication and Information, Mr Moez Chakchouk, highlighted that the recent evaluation of the Programme provided convincing evidence that “IPDC interventions have achieved significant outcomes in several key focus areas and that much of the impact is directly associated with features that are specific to IPDC and derive from its governance structures and instruments”, and the conclusion by the Evaluator that “the most significant outcomes could not have been achieved by any other means”.
At the same time, said Mr Chakchouk, the evaluation provided a series of recommendations for the future development of the Programme, which could be achieved with active Member State support and participation.
One of the key recommendations from the evaluation is that the IPDC should develop a Strategic Framework, to clarify and strengthen the positioning of the intergovernmental programme within UNESCO and outside, and the selection and implementation of interventions.
Ms Rosa Gonzalez, Deputy Secretary of the IPDC shared the draft new Strategic Framework with attendees, which had already been the subject of an online consultation with Council members.
One of the most prominent changes proposed by the new framework is moving from a project-based mindset towards result-based outcomes.
The new framework proposes to replace six programme priorities and four Special Initiatives with four strategic outcomes and nine outputs. The proposed four strategic outcomes are in four key areas identified by the Evaluation as being those where the Programme has convincingly proven a high level of impact in the past. These are: 1) Monitoring and Reporting on Safety of journalists and the issue of impunity; 2) Promoting Media Sector Development and Reform; 3) Monitoring SDG Indicator 16.10.2, and 4) the Global Initiative for Excellence in Journalism.
This presentation elicited several questions and comments from delegations, who had previously sent inputs and suggestions to the Secretariat. Several delegations praised the move towards a result-based approach and welcome the more focused and simplified set of outcomes.
Guy Berger, Director of Freedom of Expression and Media Development and Secretary to the IPDC, reminded the meeting about the concept of , which sets out a vision of the Internet based on human rights that could support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
He outlined the four core principles for the Internet to be characterized by Rights, Openness, Accessibility to All and Multistakeholder Participation – known as the ROAM Principles. Some UNESCO Member States have cited them as a reference point in formulating their national approaches to the Internet, he said. This could be taken further by using the set of indicators developed during past 18 months by way of an open consultation process.
The report, with the final set of indicators, will be presented to the 31st meeting of the IPDC Council in November 2018 in the hope that that Council Members will endorse this latest research tool as a useful resource at the national level for countries that are interested to measure Internet development in areas of UNESCO mandate.
The meeting also heard that progress was being made on SDG 16.10.2, with the Secretariat having organized an Experts Technical Consultation meeting on monitoring and reporting on SDG indicator 16.10.2. This indicator seeks to measure progress in guarantees for access to public information.
The experts discussed how UNESCO’s existing work could evolve to better record and assess the progress made by Member States in this area. A thematic debate will be organized during the Council’s November meeting on a possible IPDC mechanism to assist in progressing public access to information.
As part of UNESCO commitments to SDG 16, ADG Chakchouk announced that the innovative initiative to mark the International Day for Universal Access to Information, the IPDCTalks, could become known as UNESCO OpenTalks, with the aim of expanding the talks beyond UNESCO’s audience. The global event for the is due to take place on 27 September in Tunis, Tunisia.
For the Secretariat, Mr Yi-han Wen elaborated on the plans, including also IPDCTalks to be held in many other countries.
The IPDC Council will meet on at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France. All Member States are encouraged to attend the meeting.