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A dialogue on equal, open access & the SDGs

Tuesday 30 October 2018

Topics: Events

The Dag Hammarskjöld Library, in association with SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), organized an OpenCon satellite conference on 23 October 2018 in UN Headquarters.  The theme was "Access for all? Equity of access to information, inclusion, and the UN 2030 Agenda".

The conference brought together key policy makers and practitioners in the areas of open access, open data, open educational resources, and open science from the UN system, European Commission, World Bank, SPARC, European Commission, as well as researchers representing academic institutions. 

Speakers highlighted that equity of access to information and scientific knowledge was a human right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and was recognized as a key driver for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Monitoring progress on the 17 SDGs requires constant scientific input and would not be possible without opening access to relevant data.

Presenters shared stories about those who had benefitted from open access to scientific literature to improve medical treatments, teaching skills and the quality of judicial hearings.  The audience heard about OPEN initiatives, policies and partnerships, and discussed challenges ahead: aligning open science policies to enable a global platform for open science, promoting open access to publicly funded research information, designing alternative rewards systems for researchers, and improving discoverability and usability of data sets.

Chief Librarian Thanos Giannakopoulos summed up the day, “We travelled full circle from the morning’s scientific analysis of open access, to the launching of the EU Science Cloud next month, the afternoon’s focus on the progress of open access in the UN, and the day’s conclusion when speakers highlighted the story of school children in the slum of Kibera, Kenya, and how they are able to access information and hope for a better life at the only library.”. 

The conference concluded with an inspirational keynote address by the Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden, the first female, and African American to be selected for this prestigious position.  Dr. Hayden spoke about libraries as “opportunity centres” and called upon librarians to stand up for freedom of information for all.

Attendees included researchers, librarians, NGO representatives, UN staff, and a global audience live-streaming the event.  Watch the recording here.