Friday, 27 February 2009

Seeing Access to Knowledge in action in Asia Pacific

Luke Upchurch, CI Head of Media, on CI’s recent Asia Pacific and the Middle East member meeting, held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia:

Once again I was impressed with the strength, enthusiasm and commitment of the consumer movement in the region. Two days of debate, creative thinking and advocacy planning showed just how advanced consumers groups in Asia Pacific are becoming. It was also excellent to meet some determined and enthusiastic delegates from the consumer movement in the Middle East.

Together with the generous support of CI members from Malaysia, South Korea, Hong Kong and Australia, the CI KL Office were able to bring together over 30 consumer organisations from across Asia Pacific and the Middle East. This included the welcome attendance of some of our smaller member organisations from Jordan and Nepal, as well as observer delegates from the consumer movement in Saudi Arabia and the Malaysian government.

Proceedings on Day One focused on CI’s new Access to Knowledge project – A2K Network. This exciting new initiative seeks to show how copyright and intellectual property law is working against basic consumer rights by denying fair access to educational, cultural and commercial knowledge. The project is calling for fair and open access to academic books and cultural works, as well as CDs, computer software, DVDs and online content.

The level of support among members for the A2K Network – which is being coordinated globally from CI’s KL office – was extremely encouraging. Many are already contributing to the global IP Watchlist – an intiative unique to the A2K Network designed to reveal the state of anti-consumer intellectual property legislation around the world.

Day Two gave us the chance to discuss member activities for World Consumer Rights Day 2009, and I was encouraged by the range of plans to take action as part of the CI’s Junk Food Generation campaign – from the Lunch Box Challenge, to the Supermarket Sweep. And, of course, the promotion of CI’s junk food marketing code.

This regional consumer group summit was a great exchange of ideas. In his address to the meeting, CI’s DG Joost Martens spoke of the vital role CI continues to play in facilitating dialogue and action among national consumer organisations. This gathering certainly showed how constructive face to face dialogue can be: small members learning from our larger organisations, sharing experience, pooling knowledge and drawing strength from our common objectives. It was Access to Knowledge in action!

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