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Ensuring access to information in times of crisis

With the aim of creating a dialogue and to examine the implications of the health emergency during an pandemic, UNESCO's Intergovernmental Information for All Programme (IFAP) and its global partners, organized a three-day international conference titled “Access to Information in time of crisis- the UNESCO Information for All Programme priorities and the COVID-19 pandemic” from 26 August- 28 August 2020. 

The lead partners of the dialogue were – India Centre for Information Ethics (ICEIE) at the University of The Hyderabad; the Russian National IFAP Committee, Interregional Library Cooperation Centre; the African Centre for Information Ethics at the University of Pretoria, South Africa and the UNESCO Chair on Language Policies for Multilingualism.

One of the central concerns of UNESCO is the digital divide, not just globally, but also to specific groups like women, youth, the elderly, and persons with disabilities around the world. As we seek to promote and widen access to information, let’s also strive to promote international reflection and debate on the ethical, legal and societal challenges of the information society.
Eric Falt, UNESCO New Delhi Director

The three-day conference aimed at promoting inclusive dialogue around IFAP’s six priority areas: Information for Development; Information Literacy; Information Preservation; Information Ethics; Information Accessibility; and Multilingualism.

Disinformation or misinformation is not a new phenomenon, but at times like this, it can lead to a human crisis. The main objective of this conference is to improve research on information literacy, to disseminate knowledge, and further make it accessible to everyone.
Professor J Prabhakar Rao, Director, ICEIE

Challenges related to the access of information during a crisi situation were part of the discussion in every panel. The conference concluded with deliberations on new researches, key policy issues and interventions to promote gaps and sharing of best practices. The recommendations are part of the preparatory activities for the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) which will be observed globally on 28 September, 2020.

IFAP works to build inclusive knowledge societies, and supports member states to develop policies that ensure citizens’ access to digital technologies, including access to content on a free, open and secure internet.