26.09.2012 - UNESCOPRESS

UNESCO Conference on Preservation of Digital Heritage

A UNESCO conference, The Memory of the World in the Digital age: Digitization and Preservation, opened in Vancouver on 26 September bringing together experts and government officials from 110 countries and all continents.

In a video message to participants, Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, underlined that “the increase in digital documents as the main means of communication and transmission of information, not to mention their short life expectancy, is a source of concern to UNESCO.”

These concerns underpin UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme, which was created to protect, preserve and promote digital heritage worldwide. The multi-stakeholder three-day conference, hosted by the University of British Columbia and supported by several sponsors*, is organized in the framework of the Programme’s 20th Anniversary.

“Our understanding of the complexity of the ecosystem underpinning digitization and digital preservation lags behind the rapid pace of technological development,” cautioned Janis Karklins, Assistant UNESCO Director-General for Communication and Information as he opened the conference.

“Therefore,” he added, “it is essential to build the basis for collaborative strategic alliances for the joint responsibility of preserving human knowledge. In this regard, we believe that establishing networks and partnerships will contribute to a better sharing of resources for the good of humanity.”

The importance of Digital Preservation in a rapidly evolving technological age was further underlined by Mr Karklins: “It is impossible to underestimate the importance of documentary heritage in our lives. It constitutes the necessary basis for dialogue, building respect and mutual understanding in relations between different civilizations, societies and social groups. It contributes in an important manner to understanding and recognition of the value of cultural diversity. It is the record of sources of history and artistic expression of cultures and communities as well as civilizational change.”

During the meeting, participants will seek ways to raise awareness of, and develop guidelines for, digitization and digital preservation; examine UNESCO’s potential role in the international debate on digitization and digital preservation practices and standards; and review the 2003 UNESCO Charter on the Preservation of the Digital Heritage. Participants will be working in partnership with key stakeholders from governments, the public, and the private sector.

As digital media has become the main means of recording and transmitting knowledge today, The Memory of the World Programme is committed to raising awareness and building capacity to address issues affecting digitization and digital continuity while developing digital preservation strategies that are sustainable and globally applicable.


            UNESCO is committed to raise awareness of these issues, lead advocacy for digital preservation and provide advice to its Member States, as well as contributing in practical terms to improve understanding and practices regarding digitization and digital preservation as part of its mandate to build a culture of peace and promote sustainable development in its fields of competence around the world.


The plenary sessions of the Conference are webcast live: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/unesco-digitalage

 More about the Conference: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/communication-and-information/events/calendar-of-events/events-websites/the-memory-of-the-world-in-the-digital-age-digitization-and-preservation/

 * Sponsors include: Google, Microsoft, the governments of Azerbaijan, the Netherlands and Quebec Province, the Canadian National Commission to UNESCO, the InterPares Project, the University of British Columbia, the University of Toronto, The University of Ottawa, the Canadian Research Council, and the Internet Society.





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