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Author: Olga Komarova | 5. March 2019

Through its dedication to supporting independent journalism and broad public access to information, GFMD has committed to enhance the reporting process of Access to Information (ATI) laws as well as to assess the extent to which these laws are being enforced by public bodies in certain countries.

In the context of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), freedom of expression and public access to information fall within the guidelines of SDG 16: “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”, and more specifically, Target 10: “Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.”

Moreover, SDG 16.10 is composed of two indicators that seek to measure the progress achieved by a UN member state, where 16.10.2 pertains to: “The number of countries that adopt and implement constitutional, statutory, and/or policy guarantees for public access to information.” This means that member states must not only establish RTI laws, but also implement them properly.

To be involved in the SDG reviewing process, which is discussed annually at the UN High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), civil society organisations (CSOs) can advocate to bring their contributions in a number of different ways (see the GMFD guide).

In light of this, GFMD is conducting  three pilot projects with local partners based in the following countries currently undergoing Voluntary National Reviews (VNR):

Local partners are in charge of shadow report production by applying the FOIAnet methodology. This methodology has been created for CSOs in order to capture a broad picture of the implementation of  RTI law(s) in a given country. It is composed of the three following dimensions:

  1. Proactive disclosure: a public body adopts an approach that includes the proactive release of information without a member of the public making a request.
  2. Institutional measures: measures established aiming to facilitate the implementation of laws.
  3. Processing of requests: sending two or three requests to public authorities in order to assess whether the requested information is being responded to properly.

By focusing on a maximum of 10 national public bodies, CSO actors collect data that will enable them to generate, rate, and interpret the results to produce a final shadow report. To be as inclusive as possible, partners hold consultative meetings in which media professionals have the opportunity to share their perspective and add input to the shadow report.

Advocacy actions will be conducted to disseminate the outcomes of the report on a national stage but also on an international stage, notably around the HLPF held under the auspices of ECOSOC, in July 2019. The overall process of the project aims to assess SDG 16.10, target 2, while also encouraging states to review SDG 16 overall.

GFMD is coordinating the project titled, “Mobilising Media Development Actors in Support of SDG 16.10” with Deutsche Welle Akademie (DWA) and Free Press Unlimited (FPU), which is assessing the status of SDG 16.10 in Mongolia (DWA), Indonesia (FPU), and South Africa (FPU). The background of the project is funded by  Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

At the UN level, UNESCO acts as the custodian agency assessing the 16.10.2 indicators. Therefore, the agency monitors data collection related to public access to information laws in the 43 countries that have submitted their VNRs for the 2019 HLPF.


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