Welcome to OCCAM
The Observatory on Digital Communication was established in 1996 by UNESCO in Milan, with the Agreements signed by the Director General, Federico Mayor and Mayor Marco Formentini in June 1996. The acronym stands for Observatory for Cultural and Audiovisual Communication in the Mediterranean.
Since 2003, OCCAM has been associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information, while in 2005 it received Special Consultative Status at the UN’s Social and Economic Council (ECOSOC). Since 2006 OCCAM is leader of the e-service for development Community of Expertise within the Global Alliance for Information and Communications Technologies and Development (UN – GAID), initiative launched by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in Kuala Lumpur.
OCCAM was founded with the mission to fight poverty as effectively as possible using the new technologies and to promote sustainable development actions in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), and works to support the UN strategies for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), former Millennium Development Goals (MDGs, 2000-2015).
OCCAM’s actions, besides its function of Observatory on Digital Communication with studies and research, focuses also on two other main initiatives:
- the Infopoverty World Conference that has been held annually since 2001 in the UN headquarters in New York; it takes stock of the phenomena of the digital revolution as it can be employed to strengthen the fight against poverty;
- the Infopoverty Programme that collects the operational suggestions emerging from the conference to turn them into projects realized in various parts of the world.
As part of the Infopoverty program, OCCAM promoted the foundation of the Infopoverty Institute at the University of Oklahoma in 2004, to spread the Infopoverty vision in the American academic world, having as its scope to improve the living conditions of the population with ICT.
Infopoverty World Conference
Infopoverty World Conference is one of the best-known initiatives of OCCAM, founded in 2001.
Since then, the conference has been held annually at the UN seat in New York. Considered as one Flagship Event, over the years it has seen more than a thousand representatives of large international organizations and institutions, avant-garde companies, universities and pioneers of the digital revolution, to find winning digital solutions for fighting poverty and sustainable development.
Since its inception, the IWC has reached a high government level, thanks to the presence of high-ranking officials such as: Staffan de Mistura, General Secretary Personal Representative; Armida de Lopez Contreras, Vice President of Honduras; John Negroponte, former US Ambassador, Israel Chris, Deputy Secretary US department of Commerce (which announced in 2003 the creation of the Millennium Challenge Account by the Bush administration); Sonia Mendieta de Badaroux, President of the UNESCO General Assembly; Hisanori Isomura, president of CICT-UNESCO and ambassador of Japan in Paris; Mario Baccini, Italian foreign minister; Carlos A. Braga, director of the World Bank; Donaldo Ochoa, director of the Central American Bank for Economic Intregation; Giuseppe Gargani, president of the European Parliament’s Media and Culture Committee; Adriana de Kanter, director of the US Department of Education; Guido Podestà, Vice-President of the European Parliament; Arturo Vallarino, Vice-President of the Republic of Panama; John Shirley, President of the Navajo Nation; John Gage, co-founder Sun Microsystems; Hamadoun Tourè, Secretary General ITU; Shashi Tharoor, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Communications and Public Information; Montassar Ouali, Tunisian Minister of Communication; Enrique Planas, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Social Communication; Sarbuland Khan, Director UN – GAID; and many others.
The conferences over the years have been organized in partnership with the European Parliament, Office of Milan, and have received the high patronage of the President of the Republic, the patronage of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and other national and international institutions.
The annual editions of Infopoverty held at the UN seat in New York are always in videoconference with other institutional offices in the world, such as: Brussels, European Commission; Paris, Unesco; Milan, (Office of the European Parliament, the University of Milan, the Catholic University of Milan and the Polytechnic University of Milan) and numerous other locations around the globe.
The 2018 edition of the conference, the 18th, entitled Collective creativity and digital innovation: forging inclusive partnerships to sustain peace and development, was held on April 13, 2018 as usual at the UN NY, room 12 and saw 49 speakers. This latest edition, like the previous ones starting in 2012, has been made accessible by the UN TV streaming site.
Many projects have been launched over the years, including ICT Villages to redeem poorer communities (SDG 1) from poverty, eMedMed for telemedicine (SDG 3), World Food & Health Security e-Center for agricultural development and food security, (SDG 2). The Program is updated annually at each UN Infopoverty conference and illustrated with specific exposures.
he Infopoverty Programme was started by the first Infopoverty World Conference, organized by OCCAM in 2001 with the European Parliament, UNESCO Mediterranean Programme, UNIC and other scientific and university institutions. Infopoverty is focused on fighting poverty through innovations and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in particular.
Throughout its history, our institution has been guided by the core principle of – in the words of UN General Secretary – becoming a pilot explorer of the digital revolution.
From our establishment as an experimental agency that helps to search and apply the best practices, OCCAM has played a vital role in promoting the social use of ICTS ensuring the capacity of the UN system to accelerate the process of development for the disadvantaged community.
As new challenges of the digital revolution have arisen, the United Nations has consistently called on OCCAM to develop solutions that keep us a step ahead. OCCAM has created in 2001 the Infopoverty Programme, consisting in the creation of ICT-Villages in remote areas, able to assure to the population the primary services in food security, e-health and e-learning.
During 15 years, the Infopoverty World Conference, held in the UN Headquarters in New York, illustrated the results of its actions, becoming a pole of discussion and attraction of the most innovative people, institutions and companies in the planet. Now, the partnerships established with governments, industries, UN IGO and academic institutions constitute a pole of reference for a new approach of cooperation and a strong support to the rise of the progresses made by the communities using properly the new technologies. OCCAM also continues to focus on its mission promoting the role of the UN to drive the digital revolution momentum: orienting the innovation to the social primary needs and moderating the speculative behavior
OCCAM also manages a significant number of researches and development programs focused on a broad range of the application of the global platform of digital services, able to ensure a fundamental science and engineering capability pushing the forefront of technology.
OCCAM with its network of 200 partners upholds a strong set of core values: integrity, excellence, teamwork, respect for each other, and placing service to the United Nations as our highest duty.”
President Occam & Infopoverty Programme at UN
UNESCO and European Parliament partnership
These annual conferences form a forum where the various protagonists of the Region work on the role that cinema and new media can play in the process of integration of the Mediterranean, identifying and promoting concrete initiatives to support the Euro-Mediterranean dialogue; in twenty years, the Euro-Mediterranean Conferences on Cinema have seen among its participants representatives of governments, international organizations, public and private institutions, experts in the new media and men and women of culture; this initiative has promoted and supported important initiatives in the Mediterranean, such as: the Euromed Audiovisuel program for cinema support policy; the Copeam for public televisions; the Film Festivals of Tirana, Ohrid, Zagreb, Beirut, Gaza, Kouribka, Kalamata, Menorca; the rencontres cinèma of Hammammet; the relaunch of the Antalya Festival in Turkey, the first Euro-Asian festival.
In 2016, the XXI Conference was held on February 26th and 27th in Catania with the theme of the Mediterranean in the Digital Era and focused on “Health Security, Migrant Emergency and Solidarity Development in the Mediterranean Basin”, with important contributions from the Mayor of Catania Enzo Bianco, the ministerial undersecretaries Giuseppe Castiglione, Domenico Manzione, Vito De Filippo and Benedetto Della Vedova, senior representatives of the coastal countries, partners of the E-MedMed project, and the President of OCCAM and Infopoverty Pierpaolo Saporito , who underlined how the conference goes beyond cinema and television to widen the field of digital communication, and can be integrated as a regional contribution to the worldwide mission of Infopoverty.