In an effort to support social and economic development, UNESCO and Sun Microsystems signed a Collaboration Agreement at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum 09. The agreement recognizes open source technologies as key to increase access to information, communications technologies and ICT skills training in under-served communities throughout the world.
The agreement is part of UNESCO’s ongoing effort to improve digital inclusion globally by partnering with the private sector. Under its terms, Sun Microsystems and UNESCO will promote the use of open source technologies, including OpenOffice.org and OpenDocument Format (ODF) standard, as a low-cost way to improve education with universal access to information and knowledge. They will also support the development of open and inclusive knowledge societies in developing and emerging economies.
“At Sun, we believe the momentum of open source and its power to bring people onto the network is unquestionable and has the power to help emerging economies spur indigenous innovation and improve the lives of their citizens,” said Beveridge. “This agreement will help nations around the world provide top notch engineering programs that never would have been available without the flexibility and collaboration of open source technologies.”
“UNESCO values the possibilities offered by all software models and advocates a diversity of choice to ensure that all can benefit from information and knowledge. We are glad to work with Sun to harness the power of free and open source software for extending and disseminating knowledge and to foster community approaches to software development,” said Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO.
The agreement includes the creation of a Centre of Excellence for Adoption of Open Technologies and collaboration on promoting adoption of OpenOffice.org and Open Document Format Tools. As part of these projects, Sun will provide availability, expertise and training materials for its open source software, while UNESCO will focus on promoting adoption of open technologies. UNESCO will work to identify institutions that would become partners for providing support and training in the use of OpenOffice.org and ODF.
Open source technologies are cost-effective, provide increased security, and deliver enhanced accessibility for citizens. By leveraging open technologies, organizations are no longer locked-in to expensive, long-term licensing contracts that typically require additional costs for new technologies to work with legal solutions. Today, most of the Internet runs on freely available, open-source software such as OpenOffice, Apache webserver, and the MySQL database.
Around the world, increasing numbers of people are adopting open source. In February 2009, the Ministry of Technology in the United Kingdom announced that it will begin directing the nation’s government agencies to adopt open source. It joined the governments of Vietnam, Brazil, The Netherlands, Denmark and South Africa among others that have recognized the power of open standards or open source technology solutions for the benefit of their citizens to reduce costs, lower barriers of entry, improve security and bridge the digital divide.
Sun’s collaboration agreement with UNESCO is part of the company’s broader initiative to bring more people on to the information network and gain access to the tools, skills, technology and innovation to realize their full potential.