The Global Information Commons
for Science Initiative
At the first World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) meeting in Geneva , December 2003, 175 countries adopted a Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action . It was recognized by these countries, in paragraph 7 of the Declaration of Principle, that "science has a central role in the development of the Information Society. Many of the building blocks of the Information Society are the result of scientific and technical advances made possible by the sharing of research results".
Many actors and organizations already are engaged in activities that are directly aligned with those purposes, as well as in others that are closely complementary with them in forming the technological and institutional conditions conducive to the global advancement of reliable knowledge and human well-being through scientific research. There is growing interest in mobilizing public and private resources, and focusing them to support particularly promising endeavours fostering participation in Science globally, in the developing and developed countries alike. There is also a growing perception of the need to coordinate and integrate these efforts, to scale up many of those that are recently launched, and to stimulate experiments with new modes of production, dissemination, and cooperative uses of scientific data and information.. With the latter needs in mind, an International Workshop has been convened in Paris on September 1-2, 2005 on the theme "Creating the Information Commons for Science: Toward Institutional Policies and Guidelines for Action." [For details see http://www.codata.org/archives/2005/UNESCOmtg/index.html.]
Organized by CODATA with the joint sponsorship ICSU, ICSTI, INASP, UNESCO, and TWAS, and the collaboration of the OECD, this Workshop has attracted the participation of more than one hundred individuals from more than twenty-five nations, forming an assembly with a wide range of expertise and practical experience in many domains of science, information management, and related areas of the social sciences, law, and public policy. They have been joined by representatives of international organizations and decision-makers in national governments with responsibilities for public science and technology policies and public research funding.
Based on the responses that the Workshop has drawn from many quarters and informal discussions among the organizers of the Workshop, and in anticipation of the activities that are to take place at the final WSIS meeting in Tunis this November, it is proposed to explore the nature and scope, and the feasibility of launching a dedicated initiative furthering the creation of the Global Information Commons for Science.
The Global Information Commons for Science Initiative will be a multi-stakeholder undertaking that will be launched as an outcome of the second and final phase of WSIS. It will leverage the strengths of a diverse coalition for the purpose of raising awareness on the part of the actors and increasing the effectiveness of the activities directed to facilitating various methods of open access and re-use of publicly-funded scientific data and information, and to promoting cooperative sharing of research tools and materials among researchers.
The Initiative will not duplicate existing efforts. Rather, it will provide a shared global platform for members to promote existing initiatives, broker new ones where more effort is needed, build partnerships and share experience, and develop and publicize principles, guidelines and best practices. The Initiative will be open without fee to active participation from government agencies, universities and other institutions of higher education, non-governmental organizations and not-for-profit research institutes, the private sector, international and intergovernmental organizations, and civil society. To become a partner, organizations need to make a commitment at the CEO/leader level to undertake one or more activities that contribute to the stated goals of the Initiative. Partners will contribute according to their own circumstances and capacities; each partner will maintain equal and independent status, while working toward agreed common objectives.
The key elements and actions necessary to establish and implement this initiative will be identified and developed by interested stakeholders between now and the Tunis summit. Separate funding would be sought to support aSecretariat and related information dissemination and coordination services. Actual establishment and implementation of the proposed initiative would commence in 2006.