Mind the (information) gap: Making the case for action by governments

Just days before the full launch of the Development and Access to Information (DA2I) 2017 Report, participants at the United Nations High Level Political Forum (HLPF) had a first glimpse at its findings on Tuesday11 July.

TASCHA’s Maria Garrido, alongside Donna Scheeder (President, IFLA), Nancy Hafkin (Women in Global Science and Technology), and Quinn McKew (Deputy Executive Director, Article 19), set out the report’s key arguments: that access to information is a pre-condition for development across the board, and that for this access to be meaningful, it requires investment and support. Libraries have a unique role in providing this support, especially for those who need it most.

With the drive to eradicate poverty a key theme of this year’s HLPF, Donna Scheeder underlined the risk of information poverty. For individuals faced with low education and skills, poor health and employment performance, and politics driven by misinformation and ignorance, the outlook would be bleak.

There was a positive scenario though, with empowered and critical citizens able to improve their own, and their communities’ lives through better health, good jobs, innovation, creativity, and civic engagement. Libraries would be at the heart of this work.

Maria Garrido set out the indicators chosen for the DA2I report, focusing on different dimensions of access –technical, skills-based, cultural, and legal. Nancy Hafkin, drawing on long experience of working to give women the same rights and opportunities as men, underlined the risk that without action, inequalities in the physical world would just be replicated in the digital.

In closing, Quinn McKew congratulated IFLA and TASCHA on the quality of the report, and called for further efforts from all to ensure that access to information was given the highest priority possible.

The Development and Access to Information (DA2I) report, produced TASCHA and IFLA, will be launched on 17 July in New York. You can find out more about the report, and sign up to receive an electronic copy, on the dedicated website: da2i.ifla.org.

This recap post was originally written by IFLA staff and posted on the IFLA website.