On 7–10 June 2016 Khanty-Mansiysk successfully hosted the International conference Media and Information Literacy for Building Culture of Open Government. The first-ever global meeting on the topic was hold within the framework of the UNESCO Information for All Programme and the Eighth International IT Forum.
The conference attracted attention of both major international experts and public authorities of many countries. More than half of 110 participants were nominated by their respective governments.
The conference gathered leading scientists, academia, politicians, diplomatic officials, government, civil society and private sector representatives from almost 50 countries – Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Benin, Brazil, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Finland, France, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, India, Iran, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, Morocco, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Palau, Palestine, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Romania, Russia, Senegal, South Africa, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zimbabwe.
The conference’s high topicality was based on the need to solve two major problems of our time.
The first task is to boost and maintain an appropriate level of information and media competences of citizens in order to help people to live, develop and act efficiently in a rapidly and radically changing information environment witnessing an explosion of technology. The importance ofthis issue is now recognized the world over, and media and information literacy building is gaining momentum in all countries.
The need for the fullest possible civic engagement and for creating effective feedback mechanisms is also recognized everywhere and at international, national, regional and municipal levels. This goal can be achieved by building open government systems in cyberspace. This is the second important task.
The Conference four key goals included: •
developing and advancing UNESCO’s international policy in the field of media and information literacy promotion with regard to the problem of building open governments; •
defining conceptual framework of creating an open government culture; •
identifying and retranslating international experience of open governments functioning; •
enabling the adaptation of media and information literacy curricula/education programmes to the tasks of building open governments.
The conference heralded a new important shift towards using media and information literacy to solve the problems of building open governments and establishing feedback mechanisms between governments and the society. While media and information literacy has long been among UNESCO's priorities, the topic of open governance is quite new for UNESCO. UNESCO Intergovernmental Information for All Programme has always tried to look ahead, and this conference is another future outlook.
Conference participants reviewed the issues of media and information literacy in the context of building sustainable open governments following the conceptual provisions of the Moscow Declaration on Media and Information Literacy for Knowledge Societies (2012)and UNESCO-IFLA Media and Information Literacy Recommendations (2013).
The conference was organized by: •
Government of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area – Ugra, •
Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO, •
UNESCO / UNESCO Information for All Programme (IFAP), •
Russian Federal Agency for Press and Mass Communications, •
Russian IFAP Committee, •
Interregional Library Cooperation Centre.
Financial support was provided by the Ugra Government, the Federal Agency for Press and Mass Communications, UNESCO and LUKOIL Company.
Greetings to the conference organizers and participants were received from: •
Governor of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area – Ugra Natalia Komarova, •
Russia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Gennady Gatilov, •
UNESCO Assistant Director-General Frank La Rue, •
IFAP Intergovernmental Council Chair Chafica Haddad.
Conference Organizing Committee co-chairs – Deputy Governor of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area – Ugra Alexey Zabozlayev and Chairman of the Russian UNESCO IFAP Committee, President of the Interregional Library Cooperation Centre Evgeny Kuzmin greeted the participants at the opening ceremony.
The conference was attended by Ugra Governor Natalia Komarova, Director of the Russian Government Department for the Formation of Open Government Makar German, Deputy Chief of Staff to the Moscow Mayor and Moscow Government Evgeny Kozlov, Head of IT Department –Minister of the Moscow Government Artem Ermolayev, South Africa’s Minister of Communications Faith Muthambi.
“Here, in Ugra, we have been working on the issues on the conference agenda for several years, – said Ugra Governor Natalia Komarova in her speech. The task of Open Government is to place the population on the agenda, to see people’s needs and respond to them. It requires interactive services, crowd sourcing and dialogue platforms, developing open data systems, media and information literacy training, strengthening the role of public and expert councils. All these help the citizens to formulate their needs, questions and tasks for the authorities more clearly. We consider these complementary elements as a complex, living Open region ecosystem. We are working on a new chapter to the Ugra Development Strategy for the period until 2030, dedicated to the development of civil society in Ugra. Fostering media and information literacy will become a part of this strategy.”
In order to implement the Strategy an “Open Region” Centre was created in Ugra at the end of 2015 – a kind of a resource centre for building a culture of openness in public administration. In recent years over 85,000 people of Ugra have completed training within the e-Citizen Programme and got necessary skills to use the public services portal. Similar training on ensuring public integrity, anti-corruption expertise, participation in public acceptance of construction and repair services is provided for non-profit organizations and public councils under government bodies and local authorities.
Plenary sessions were moderated by Evgeny Kuzmin, Elena Shumakova, Tatiana Ershova, Tatiana Murovana, Alexander Sharikov (Russia), Alfredo Ronchi (Italy), Galit Wellner (Israel), László Karvalics (Hungary), Piotr Lapo (Kazakhstan), Susana Finquelievich (Argentine), MariaCarme Torras Calvo (Norway), Adolf Knoll (Czech Republic).
Participants to the conference Media and Information Literacy for Building Culture of Open Government Evgeny Kuzmin and Louis Pouzin (France) spoke at the opening ceremony of the Eighth International IT Forum and at its closing plenary meeting.
All conference participants received information and analytical materials on media and information literacy and other information society issues, published in Russian and English by the Russian IFAP Committee and the Interregional Library Cooperation Centre since 2002. These publications formed the basis of a book exhibition opened at the conference.
The Russian IFAP Committee timed the release of its new English-language publication to the conference opening – the Proceedings of the Ugra Global Expert Meeting on Multilingualism in Cyberspace (Khanty-Mansiysk, 4-9 July 2015).
At the conference closing all participants noted the high organizational level of this content rich event and expressed gratitude to its organizers.
Cultural and introductory programme of the conference included visiting the Ob-Ugric Institute of Applied Research and Development, the Ugra Research Institute of Information Technologies, the Torum Maa Outdoor Ethnographic Museum, the Museum of Nature and Man, as well as watching a performance by the “Sun” Theatre of Ob-Ugric peoples.
An impressive list of participants to the conference and the feedback received from them indicated the world’s growing interest to the problems raised within the framework of the UNESCO Information for All Programme, and to the initiatives of Ugra and the whole Russia in the field of communication and information.
The Khanty-Mansiysk conference has become a central event of the Eighth International IT-Forum and also Russia’s new contribution to the implementation of the Information for All Programme – UNESCO’s major intergovernmental programme in the field of communication and information and the only intergovernmental programme in the world to imply a comprehensive and holistic approach to humanitarian issues crucial for the future of the information society – information accessibility, information preservation, media and information literacy, information ethics, information for development, preservation of languages and their development in cyberspace.
In his welcome address to the participants and organizers of the Eighth IT Forum Sergey Lavrov, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chairman of the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO, particularly noted the International Conference Media and Information Literacy for Building Culture of Open Government among other events of the Forum.
An international working group was formed to accomplish the elaboration of the Conference Final Document, including Maria Carme Torras Calvo (Norway), Alfredo Ronchi (Italy), Maryam Nazari (Iran), Albert Boekhorst (Netherlands), Saleh Masharqa (Palestine), Evgeny Kuzmin and Tatiana Murovana (Russia).