IFLA has co-signed a letter calling for universal, open, secure, and affordable broadband connectivity, with full protection of human rights. The letter to Finance Ministers, who are meeting today in Washington, urges them to offer support to public access facilities, such as libraries, which facilitate significant gains in connectivity and sustainable development. It also welcomes initiatives such as Global Connect, which aims to bring internet connectivity to 1.5 billion more people by 2020.

Following successful engagement in the creation of the Sustainable Development Goals, IFLA continues to engage with its members, civil society and the development community to promote access to information around the world. Access to information empowers people to exercise their political and socio-economic rights, to be economically active, to learn new skills and to hold their governments to account.

High quality broadband and the skills to realise its potential are central to this. Hundreds of millions of people already use the Internet through shared connections and providers of public access such as libraries, notably in developing countries.

Yet while the number of internet users worldwide exceeds three billion, a significant percentage do not have their own network connection. As safe, trusted institutions, staffed by qualified people who can offer support and training on technology and media and information literacy, libraries provide an avenue to achieve ubiquitous public access to the Internet and ensure that people have the skills they need to access information through technology.

The ministers are meeting at the World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings. IFLA has signed on to the joint letter as a participant in the Bestbits network, which brings together organisations aiming to advance broadly shared civil society interests in Internet governance.