PERSIST Steering Committee meets in Abu Dhabi

From 14 till 16 March the Steering Committee of the UNESCO PERSIST Project on digital sustainability will discuss its plans for the coming two years in a meeting organised by the National Archives of the United Arab Emirates.

Abu Dhabi (Photo: CC/ | Noel Reynolds)

Preserving digital information

How the world can preserve digital information over longer periods of time is a very serious issue that affects everyone. Carriers like hard disks have a short life span, and even if one manages to keep the bits and bytes, the risk that current hard- and software is unable to process older data is very real. Archives, museums and libraries cannot solve this problem on their own. Solutions must come from a dialogue between these institutions, governments and the ICT-industry. The UNESCO PERSIST Projects is the platform for this dialogue.


In Abu Dhabi the steering committee will be deciding how to disseminate and test the PERSIST Guidelines for the Selection of Digital Heritage, which is the first concrete outcome of the PERSIST project.

On the agenda is the contribution of the new Policy Task Force to the implementation of the ‘UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Preservation of, and access to, Documentary Heritage including in Digital Form’.


Furthermore, decisions will be made on how to organise the UNESCO Persist Organisation (UPO) financially, organisationally and legally; UPO should form the solid basis of PERSIST’s work, including the proposed Platform for Legacy Software.

The committee will also discuss how to further the establishment of a goodwill ambassador for UNESCO’s work on digital sustainability.


Sessions have been planned with experts who are not yet involved with the project, but who will share their experiences with digital preservation and who will give their advice to UNESCO. Amongst these are Fu Hua, who will speak about digital archives in China; Maureen Pennock, who works for digital heritage in the British Library and Joachim Jung from Open Preservation. 

Agenda of the meeting of the Persist Steering Committee.

Digital information is difficult to preserve over longer periods of time. Carriers like hard disks have a short life span, and even if one manages to keep the bits and bytes, the risk that current hard- and software is unable to process the old data is very real. Archives, museums and libraries are acutely aware of these problems, yet they cannot find solutions on their own. The UNESCO PERSIST Project stimulates the debate between these institutions, government and the ICT-industry in order to promote digital sustainability. In its first phase PERSIST was coordinated by the Netherlands National Commission for UNESCO.

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