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Expert meeting in Paris revised the concept of knowledge societies

UNESCO organized an expert meeting on “Knowledge Societies: The way forward” on 1 and 2 March 2010, in its Paris Headquarters. The purpose of the meeting was to refine UNESCO’s strategy directed towards building inclusive knowledge societies. A group of global experts from academic, civil society, and governmental sectors participated in discussions on the concept of knowledge societies.

UNESCO’s primary initiative to develop the concept of knowledge societies arose with the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) held in 2003 in Geneva. This later resulted in the publication of the UNESCO World Report: Towards Knowledge Societies (2005). Since then, UNESCO takes an active role to promote and advocate the construction of inclusive, pluralistic, equitable and open knowledge societies. As a result, these principles are included as one of UNESCO’s overarching objectives agreed upon in the Medium Term Strategy, 2008-2013.

In light of recent technological and social developments, there was a need to revise the concept of knowledge societies. In doing so, the expert meeting targeted three main objectives:

  • to operationalize the concept of knowledge societies: identify mechanisms for putting the theory into practice, towards UNESCO’s goal of building inclusive knowledge societies;
  • to develop tools to qualify and quantify the concept of knowledge societies: provide analysis for anticipating trends and emerging challenges to support Member States in developing adequate strategies and policies, particularly in the area of communication, education, sciences and culture; and
  • to identify concrete activities for UNESCO to propose at the national level: learn from ongoing and recent efforts to translate the knowledge societies concept into reality on country levels.

Participants of the meeting suggested a number of key actions, including:

  • enhancing strategic partnerships with multiple actors, ensuring, at the same time, a complementary “delivering as one” UN approach;
  • producing more in depth studies about ongoing, holistic national efforts to develop knowledge societies, in order to learn more about key elements of successful processes and failures;
  • raising the awareness of decision makers and Member States and assisting them in the implementation of the knowledge societies concept, including through the tools developed by UNESCO.

The report of this meeting will be available shortly on UNESCO’s Communication and Information Sector website.