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Better access to data, underpinned by information and communications technology (ICT), must become a central, cross-cutting issue for the next set of global development goals, according to a document signed by more than 350 development organisations.

The signatories hope the Lyon Declaration will spur UN member states to recognise the importance of ICTs and an open internet for sustainable development.

The right to information has begun to filter into international discussions, says Stuart Hamilton, deputy secretary-general of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), who helped draft the declaration.

For example, the vital role of information in development is recognised in landmark reports from the UN’s Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, he says.

But there is still a “disappointing” general level of recognition regarding ICTs’ role in achieving this aim, he says.

“We are very concerned that the focus on the data revolution or open governance [is not yet] backed up with concrete commitments to connect people [to ICTs] at a community level,” Hamilton tells SciDev.Net.

The declaration urges policymakers to address this issue and highlights the importance of information access.

“Improved ICT infrastructure can be used to expand communications, speed up the delivery of services and provide access to crucial information particularly in remote communities,” it says.

It also suggests creating targets and indicators to measure progress towards better information access and its development impact.
Science and post 2015 revised May 2014
With such wide-ranging support, the document provides “a flag to rally around” and a vital tool for members to push national policymakers to take their concerns to UN discussions, says Hamilton.

To this end, the IFLA will send out an ‘advocacy tool kit’ to all its members to explain the significance of the declaration and set out how to get appointments with politicians and make pitches for political action to them, he adds.

Once the UN timetable that will bring the SDGs from paper into practice is finalised, the IFLA and its members will target high-profile meetings using the declaration, he says.

Keith Sonnet, chief executive of ICT-for-development charity Computer Aid International, says the declaration’s rights-based argument is a “good building block” around which discussions can be structured.
Link to Lyon Declaration

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