IFLA report - Meaningful access to information to leave no-one behind

The DA2I Report shows how essential access to information is for development, and makes the case for coordinated and sustained efforts by all to guarantee it. It demonstrates how meaningful access to information, supported by libraries, contributes to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and monitors the progress countries are making towards fulfilling their commitments under the UN 2030 Agenda.
IFLA notes that as the Agenda for Sustainable Development progresses, the need to address the underlying factors holding back development in all our societies becomes more and more pressing. Few are as pernicious as information poverty – the lack of access to, or the ability to use, the information necessary to foster economically and socially inclusive societies. IFLA President Donna Scheeder stressed: “There is no sustainable development without access to information. And there is no meaningful, inclusive access to information without libraries.”
In addition to the regulatory changes and infrastructure investment needed to ensure that everyone has the practical possibility to get online, the report calls for a coordinated drive to ensure that people have the confidence and skills needed to get the best out of the Internet.  IFLA notes that this will require contributions from all levels of government and across stakeholder groups.
To monitor Member States’ progress, the report presents a set of baseline indicators, drawing on established datasets, as well as providing contributions from international experts showing how access to information is already making a difference. The report focuses this year on four SDGs highlighted at this year’s UN HLPF – agriculture (SDG 2), health (SDG 3), gender equality (SDG 5), and infrastructure and innovation (SDG 9). 
Libraries, as pre-existing, trusted public centres, with both a global perspective and strong understanding of local needs, are essential partners for governments in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. IFLA is working globally to ensure libraries’ key contribution to development is recognised. It has signed agreements with representatives from 73 countries, committing to work with them to build understanding of the UN 2030 Agenda at a national and regional level, and engage in the planning, monitoring and implementation processes of National Development Plans. 
IFLA Secretary General Gerald Leitner remarked: “The library field is unique. A global community of millions of institutions, sharing the same values and objectives. IFLA, as the global voice of libraries, is proud to be able to bring this potential to bear in support of development. I believe that, together, we can deliver. The library field is certainly ready.”
The report can be downloaded from the DA2I official website at DA2I.ifla.org.  For more information contact: DA2I@ifla.org 

Main Australian findings

The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) contributed to this report and the main findings about Australia are: 
  • page 27 Connect 2020 target: Gender equality among internet users should be reached - Australia is one of six countries where there's a higher proportion of women are using the internet than men (proportional to the total population of
    women). We are ranked with Finland, Ireland, Australia, the United States, Panama, and Jamaica. 
  • page 41 Figure 1.21: Share of youth not in employment, education or training (NEET) versus percentage of individuals using the internet. This chart shows that Australia's performance is similar to many developed countries.
  • page 42 Figure 1.23: Freedom of Discussion vs. Freedom on the Net. The Freedom of Discussion Rating measures people’s ability to openly discuss political issues aloud in their private homes and in public spaces. It considers the extent of harassment from public authorities, government restrictions, and cultural constrictions. Australia's performance is one of the highest in the developed world indicating a high level of freedom.
  • page 43 Figure 1.24: Freedom of Discussion vs. percentage of individuals using the internet (2014) - again Australia's performance ranks highly in the developed world 
  • page 45 Figure 1.26: Freedom on the Net vs. percentage of individuals using the internet - again Australia ranks highly in the developed world
  • page 70 Access to information about health. Libraries – and more importantly trained librarians – assess and validate information sources and empowering others, whether they are students, health professionals, members of the public, or policymakers, to do the same. Libraries’ role in promoting and enhancing health literacy (and not just general or digital literacy) is therefore an important tool of health promotion. The economic benefits of informed access to information for health professionals have been quantified in research carried out by the Australian Library and Information Association (2014), which estimated a 5:1 return on every dollar invested in specialist health (and also legal) library services.
  • page 98 regarding the report's data analysis strategy. The report noted in general, analysis proceeded from a global view, to views by income group (using the World Bank categories) and region (from the UN Sustainable Development Goals report classification), and finally down to a country level. Disaggregating by income group and region bridges the gap between global averages and individual countries, offering a useful lens through which to view the data. Since countries can have vastly different population sizes, indicators that measured normalized values (percentages or counts per 100 inhabitants) were weighted by country population in world, income group, and regional averages, in order to make aggregate values more representative. Australia is defined as a developed region in relation to the UN Sustainable Development Goal Region List.
About the DA2I
DA2I is a joint project between the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and the Technology & Social Change Group (TASCHA) at the University of Washington Information School. It demonstrates how access to information and libraries contribute to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The DA2I report was conceived as part of the Lyon Declaration on Access to Information and Development, supported by more than 600 signatories, and calls on global institutions and associations to “ensure that everyone has access to, and is able to understand, use and share the information that is necessary to promote sustainable development and democratic societies”. More information about the report can be found here: DA2I.ifla.org/about 
Tuesday 18 July 2017 11:00am