IPDCtalks held in Tunis to celebrate the third International Day for Universal Access to Information

The International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) held the third annual IPDCtalks global event in Tunisia on 27 September 2018, to celebrate the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI).

The IPDCtalks aim to highlight the importance of access to information, a human right without which citizens cannot make informed decisions and a vital precursor to achieving all of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 2018 event was themed “Good laws and practices for open societies: Powering Sustainable Development with Access to Information”.

The event was livestreamed, amplifying the reach of the dynamic, TEDx-inspired talks and people around the world joined the conversation about #IPDCtalks, the #RightToKnow and #AccessToInfo through social media. The event hashtag - #IPDCtalks - trended in sixteen countries, representing all regions of the world. 47 million people on Twitter alone were exposed to the ideas of access to information, building upon and exceeding the success of previous years’ events.

This is the first year the global event has been held outside of Paris HQ, with the support of the Tunisian Government. In addition to the global event, ten regional IPDCtalks were organized around the world around IDUAI, creating a global discussion about access to information. Local UNESCO offices, NGOs and civil society groups held events in Afghanistan, Colombia, Gambia, Jordan, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Namibia, Pakistan and Palestine.
As part of the Opening Ceremony, Assistant Director-General Moez Chakchouk awarded IPDC Chair Albana Shala a medal to honor her long-held commitment to advocating for access to information and her dedication to open societies and media development.

Ten world-renowned speakers from a range of sectors spoke to an audience in Tunis of access to information experts, policy-makers, journalists, NGO representatives, development workers and students. Each talk addressed the importance of information to a particular SDG.

Nobel Prize Laureate Tawakkol Karman delivered her speech via video, calling on all governments and their partners to work to include in their constitutions explicit provisions that enhance freedoms of expression, press, freedom of information and freedom of peaceful assembly. “There is no democracy without freedom of expression, which begins with the right to access and circulate information”, Ms.Karman said.

Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General, Christophe Deloire, advocated for a restoration of the balance in our societies, where ordinary citizens and journalists can have access to information and public data.
Manté Makauskaite and Yevgenija Kovaliova shared how Lithuanian entrepreneurs are working with Nigeria's innovation hubs that use data to drive the economy forward, such as an app that assists hospitals in organizing blood transfers.

Former journalist and Director of the Global Academy, Andrew Jaspan, spoke of his work trying to connect journalists and academics to improve the quality of information in the public sphere: “I wanted to have an answer to the failure of the business model of journalism. I needed to connect those who have deep knowledge on topics with journalists. We need information without borders".

The final talk, by Bellingcat open source investigator Christiaan Triebert, explored how the internet can allow people to fight corruption anywhere in the world from their computers. He detailed some of Bellingcat’s previous investigations and some of the online fact-checking tools that make them possible.

The day concluded with a wrap-up session with experts in access to information reflecting on the ideas of the day and creating action points for governments and non-governmental stakeholders.

The action points, and all of the IPDCtalks, will be made available soon on the event website.

The IPDCtalks managed to raise visibility and awareness among Member States, media organizations, NGOs and the general public on the vital role that access to information plays in achieving each of the SDGs.
The organization of the global IPDCtalks was possible thanks to the generous support received from The Netherlands, Finland and Lithuania.

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