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Two years ago, world leaders pledged to work towards an 'information society', in which everyone has free access to knowledge and the opportunities to use it.

In this editorial in Science, Shuichi Iwata and Robert Chen say researchers have a critical role to play in showing how equal access to scientific knowledge can create a more sustainable world.

They say scientists must do more, however, to make their knowledge more freely available, especially for policymakers who need it as a basis for their decisions.

Ways of doing this include supporting distance-learning, making information technologies available to the poor, communicating science to the public, and setting up digital libraries and data archives.

Iwata and Chen say scientists should press for open access not only to their own data, but also to that of government agencies as such information can be vital to tackling situations such as natural disasters.

Link to full editorial in Science