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Dear Colleagues,

It is my pleasure to share with you an advance electronic copy of the Final Report on the Global Symposium +5 on Information for Humanitarian Action, held last October in Geneva (www.reliefweb.int/symposium).  This report is the result of the insights and expertise of more than 300 participants who took part in what was the largest and most diverse ever collaboration of humanitarian information professionals, and a milestone in building the community of practice on humanitarian information and knowledge.

The report highlights participants' experiences in collecting, exchanging and analysing information aimed at strengthening humanitarian action through timely and reliable information. It documents the sharing of best practices, lessons learned and provides recommendations developed and supported by the participants.

As agreed at the Symposium, OCHA has taken the lead in developing a plan to move forward on the recommendations presented in the report and ensure appropriate follow-up.  I invite our partners to review these recommendations for their consideration and undertake relevant information activities that fall within their respective remits.

OCHA is committed to reporting back to the humanitarian community on progress made in relation to the recommendations. To this effect, OCHA will periodically post updates on ReliefWeb as well as keeping partners informed of our progress. In return, I hope that you will share the report contents, including its best practices and principles, with your respective organisations and raise the issues for broader discussion and implementation. The impact of the Symposium is being monitored and analyzed in a two-year study by the US-based Penn State University College of Information Sciences and Technology. It follows the initial impact survey of the 2002 Symposium and the survey taken during the 2007 Symposium.  I encourage everyone who was involved in the Symposium to continue to take part in their evaluation.

I highly recommend this report to all professionals who may become involved in this subject and count on your assistance to disseminate it as widely as possible.  The hard copy version is expected to be available next month.

To see the report please click on this link  http://www.reliefweb.int/symposium/docs/symposium5_final_report.pdf or go to the website at www.reliefweb.int/symposium.

With best regards,

John Holmes
Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs
and Emergency Relief Coordinator