To mark International Day for Universal Access to Information (28 September), the Catalan Minister for Foreign Action, Institutional Relations and Transparency, Alfred Bosch, opened a conference on this topic today in Barcelona.
During his opening address, Minister Bosch stressed the importance of facilitating access to information and “having informed citizens in order to cement a strong democracy”. He also made reference to the phenomenon of fake news: “There’s only one way to fight fake news, and that’s by facilitating access to information so that citizens can decide what’s true and what’s not.”
The foreign minister thanked the Secretary for Transparency and Open Government, Jordi Foz, noting that “we’re increasingly transparent. We have to follow the lead of those who are doing a good job in this area.” Specifically, Bosch set the goal of achieving the levels of transparency seen in Nordic countries.
For Minister Bosch, the administration has a duty to generate trust, and fulfilling this duty will depend on its commitment to transparency. “The only way to strengthen trust among citizens is to ensure that there are reliable information channels.” According to Bosch, there is only one way to generate trust and that is “to tell the truth time and again”.
The Catalan foreign minister said that defending civil rights and freedom of expression was a key element in building a sound democracy.
The Government of Catalonia offers its citizens transparency tools and public information and does not appeal the decisions of the body responsible for ensuring access to information. Contributions of social actors and experts are very important to the Secretariat for Transparency and Open Government. This is exemplified by the response to requests made by the Catalan Ombudsman – set out in the 2019–20 Open Government Plan, which addresses issues related to access to public information, raising awareness of the right to know, and dissemination of transparency tools, among others.
International Day for Universal Access to Information
Since 2016, UNESCO has marked 28 September as International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI). The right to know is essential to any democracy and for the well-being of every individual. Fake news and post-truth make the right to know and accurate information more important than ever.