Congress programme > Description of sub-themes

ICA Abu Dhabi Congress

Peace and Tolerance

In a world mired in conflict and challenges, the post-pandemic era has raised new challenges. Archives worldwide whether national, regional, or even personal have a mission to rise up to the challenges brought about by events on the international stage. The role of archives is not limited or restricted to the projection of appearances of peace and tolerance. Rather archives are one of pillars of peace and tolerance be it on the national or societal levels.

In this part of Abu Dhabi 2023, participants will shed light on the importance of archives in creating and maintaining peace and tolerance in society. Moreover, participants will highlight the role of archives in promoting peace and tolerance between nations at the international level. Archives in many parts of the world are often described as memories of their nations. However, archives are not silent or passive memories. Archives have a voice and that voice is the voice of knowledge. Archives enrich societies and nations.

Emerging Technologies: Electronic Records, Electronic Solutions

Eventually, all documentation will become digital. Just like how parchment replaced giant rocks as a means of written expression, digital media will replace the vast stacks of paper. However, ambiguity still surrounds the associated technologies required to produce authentic, reliable, integrous, sustainable and usable digital records.

Tech enthusiasts argue that the tools to produce authentic digital records are available now. Thus, implementing them is a matter of decision and budget. However, not a week passes by without hearing in the news about a worldwide disruption of a digital service in one form or another. Others see an opportunity in this gigantic metamorphosis to the digital atmosphere.

Whether in the field of AI, blockchain, or machine learning, this theme wants to explore what emerging technologies will bring to documentation, records, and archives. Will emerging technologies bring solutions or become additional burdens?

This theme will shed light on the challenges facing archivists and records managers in their quest to incorporate new technologies into our tasks and operations. It also aims to provide a wider space to share success stories and experiences with emerging technologies in the fields of records management and archiving. 

Sustainable Knowledge, Sustainable Planet: Archives, Records and Climate Change

Sustainable knowledge is fundamental to sustainable development and the achievement of development initiatives like the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) In particular, Goal 13: Climate Action, requires us all to re-assess the impact that our practices are having on the environment, and to adopt modernisation strategies that extend the reach of archives while achieving net-zero carbon emission targets.

Achievement of all Sustainable Development Goals relies heavily on the long-term availability of trustworthy information. Archives are social institutions that must maintain the public’s trust and provide that trustworthy information in a form that is easily discovered, used and re-used for public discourse, education, scientific research and government policymaking.

It must also be recognised that many archival collections are themselves threatened by the effects of climate change – including rising sea levels, severe weather events as well as the adverse economic effects that deny funding for the sustainability of preservation and access programs.

Trust and Evidence

In the age of ‘alternative facts’, ‘fake news’, misinformation and cybersecurity threats, the need for trustworthy evidence (records, information, data) has become ever more essential. What is our role in this space? Who are our allies?  What is the role of records and archives professionals in the area of internet governance? Archives must maintain the public’s trust and provide that trustworthy information in a form that is easily discovered, used and re-used for public discourse, education, scientific research and government policymaking.

Trust and evidence also mean reaching out and understanding what our users need, so that they can believe in what we do and how we acquire, preserve and make accessible information. How do we empower them? To empower us?

The evidence contained within archival collections has profound inter-generational value and Archival institutions must maintain the capacity to faithfully carry the recorded memory of the past into the future. In this respect the evidential value of archives is under constant threat through a long list of adverse influences, including technological obsolescence, administrative neglect, wilful destruction, conflict, looting and illicit trafficking.

Access and Memories

Access to archives is a right, not a privilege. It is for the researchers and the stakeholders to decide to what ends should lead their access to archival materials. Nonetheless, access can present challenges for archives, particularly relating to the misuse and improper citation of materials, especially digital formats. Archives have a duty to preserve knowledge and a social role in sharing common memories to build enriched communities.

Whether electronic or physical, access to archives is one of most important tools for enriching societies. Nonetheless, access faces its fair share of challenges when it comes to the misuse and non-acknowledgment of the materials used in a variety of formats but more specifically on digital platforms.