In 1972 The United Nations General Assembly established October 24 as World Development Information Day “to draw the attention of world public opinion to development problems and the need to strengthen international cooperation to solve them”. Today, one could argue that Development Information is widespread; there is plenty of awareness about the plight of less developed countries, and a good deal of international cooperation to address them. Now the focus has shifted – quite rightly – to how best to collaboratively address these problems. For me, there’s another interpretation as well, which is that of making information for development more readily available, so that better, more effective and efficient decisions can be made to address the development “problems” on which this day was originally intended to shed light upon.
It is a truism that there is more information available today, to more people, in more places than has ever been available in the history of our planet. This information base grows daily. The challenge for many of us dedicated to addressing development challenges is less about the amount of information and more about getting the right information, and ensuring that such information is accessible to all. So for me it is about equal access to information. Which is why I find it pleasantly coincidental that this week is also Open Access Awareness Week (http://www.openaccessweek.org/.
Open Access is one of the core pillars of our work at the CGIAR Consortium, the group of 15 of the world’s leading agricultural research Centers conducting research to improve the lives, lands, and livelihoods of the world’s poorest people. The CGIAR Consortium Board recently approved the Consortium’s Open Access Policy, and a first round of draft Implementation Guidelines are under widespread review. Both documents can be found at www.cgiar.org/open.
So let’s celebrate the fact that Development Information is widespread, but let’s also not rest until we can assure that access to information to help address development challenges is openly accessible to all.