Internet Universality ROAM principles advocated in Central Asia and Russia

On 25 November 2021, UNESCO convened an event showcasing the national assessment initiatives and relevance of Internet Universality and ROAM-X principles and indicators for shaping the digital transformation in Central Asia and the Russian Federation.

In welcoming the participants, Tawfik Jelassi, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, noted that Member States praised the Internet Universality R.O.A.M. framework and Indicators as a value-adding instrument, which both facilitates a dialogue on regulatory and policy decisions and provides solid evidence upon which to base digital transformation processes in line with international human-rights standards.

“Every single one of IFAP’s (Information for All Programme) six priority areas: information literacy, information access, information preservation, information ethics, information for development and multilingualism online resonates with ROAM.” affirmed Dorothy Gordon, Chair of the Information for All Programme and the UNESCO IITE Governing Board Member, in her welcoming speech.

Krista Pikkat, Director of the UNESCO Almaty Office, highlighted the importance of conducting these discussions at the regional level so as to share the best practices of national assessments and consider ways to promote reforms of internet policy in Central Asia and beyond.

Director of the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (UNESCO IITE), Tao Zhan, highlighted the Internet’s crucial role in the digital transformation in education and re-affirmed IITE’s commitment to promoting Internet Universality ROAM-X principles and indicators through cross-sector collaboration.

Marielza Oliveira, UNESCO CI’s Director for Partnerships and Operational Programme Monitoring, stressed the importance of digital inclusion for vulnerable groups such as indigenous peoples and people with disabilities in the digital transformation process and pointed out: “Digital transformation can be the root to foster the right to education and human rights through innovation”.

Shavkat Sabirov, President of the Kazakhstan Internet Association, informed the Multistakeholder Advisory Board (MAB) about the ongoing assessment of ROAM-X in Kazakhstan. The Ministry of Digital Development and Ministry of Information and Public Development, as well as academia, and civil society organizations participated too. Sanjarbek Allarov from UNESCO Tashkent updated the ongoing process of assessing ROAM-X indicators in Uzbekistan, including on the process of involving governmental bodies in composing the Multistakeholder Advisory Board (MAB).

Elira Turdubaeva, President of Association of Communicators from the Kyrgyz Republic, presented the ongoing process of assessing the Media Development Indicators (MDIs) in Kyrgyzstan during 2021- 2022. Matthias Kettemann, Head of the Leibnitz Institute’s Media Research Programme, shared updates and lessons learned from conducting the newly launched national assessment of ROAM-X indicators in Germany.

Sergey Karpov, National Programme Officer on Communication and Information at UNESCO Almaty, underlined the high pertinence of assessing ROAM-X indicators in all Central Asian countries and the strong linkage between Journalism Safety Indicators, Media Development Indicators and the Internet Universality ROAM-X indicators. He called for implementing the assessment using national languages Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Russian.

Xianhong Hu, the focal point for the ROAM-X work at UNESCO, pointed out the transversal nature of Internet Universality and how the ROAM-X Indicators project is serving as a unique tool, while being complementary with all existing ICTs and media related indicators. IUI is also instrumental in renewing the Internet governance model while IUI processes facilitate multistakeholder and human rights-based approaches.

The event was moderated by Sergey Karpov (UNESCO Almaty) and Tatiana Murovana (UNESCO IITE).