Launched in 2001, IFAP* is an intergovernmental programme through which Governments have pledged to harness the new opportunities of the information age to create equitable societies through better access to information. An Evaluation of the Programme in 2006 led to the development of new strategic orientations, which will be discussed by the Intergovernmental Council, and be presented to the forthcoming 179th session of the UNESCO Executive Board.
In his opening speech, Mr Matsuura observed that IFAP, now in its seventh year, “…is at a turning point. Following the 2006 evaluation of the programme, a large part of your work will focus on the strategic plan for 2008-2013. Coming on the eve of the 179th session of the Executive Board, where the plan will be discussed, your deliberations will be very significant in guiding UNESCO to define new strategic priorities and orientations.”
Remarking on the explosion in digital technologies and information over the past decade, the Director-General observed that “these developments have far-reaching consequences on strategies to reach the goal of “Information for All”, including those to enhance information literacy, ensure information preservation, tackle ethical, legal and societal issues related to information, demonstrate the benefits of information for development, and ensure information accessibility through open access to and multilingual content.”
He went on to say that “what lies at the horizon of IFAP is the possibility - for the first time in history - to connect six billion brains. Addressing the challenges and the opportunities offered by new technological developments requires a strong multi-stakeholder approach, as recognized by the World Summit on the Information Society. This is vitally important because knowledge is increasingly understood to be the key to escaping both poverty and marginalization and to achieving individual and social development.”
Noting that IFAP must continue to create awareness of the importance of information for national policy agendas and help Member States in the preparation of national information policies founded on four key principles on which the UNESCO promoted vision of knowledge societies is based: universal access to information and knowledge, freedom of expression, quality education for all and respect for linguistic diversity, Mr Matsuura noted that the 2006 evaluation of the programme had acknowledged its value-add in addressing the issues arising from emerging ICTs but that it had also called for greater clarity and focus. The Director-General underscored the necessity of “an increasing collaboration with a variety of stakeholders, namely intergovernmental organizations, NGOs, research institutes, other international organizations and the private sector as essential to achieving this goal.”
Mr Matsuura paid tribute to the outgoing Chairperson and former Rapporteur, Mr Lawrence Zwimpfer, remarking that he had been “a devoted, hardworking, imaginative and creative Chair and has spearheaded the consultations on and design of the draft strategic plan.” The Director-General also expressed his thanks to the Rapporteur, Mr Daniel Malbert, as well as to other members of Bureau for their contribution to the development of IFAP.
In votes held on the opening morning, Mr Karol Jakubowicz (Poland) was elected as Chairperson, Ms Fay Durrant (Jamaica) was elected Rapporteur, and Austria, Hungary, Thailand, Brazil, Nigeria and Egypt were elected to the Bureau.
Author(s): Office of the Spokeswoman - Source: Flash Info N° 043-2008 - Publication Date: 02-04-2008