The World OER Congress 2012, organized by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and UNESCO with the generous support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (UNESCO Communication and Information, 2012), highlighted ways in which OER are serving as tools for collaboration and the creation of learning resources. The Congress resulted in the adoption of the Paris OER Declaration (Appendix A), which notably encourages governments to openly license educational materials that are publicly funded.
As part of their joint project Fostering Governmental Support for Open Educational Resources Internationally, UNESCO and COL invited governments to provide information about their policies in relation to OER. Questionnaires were developed by UNESCO and COL, based on a simplified version of the OECD questionnaires, and was sent out to Commonwealth Governments, OECD Commonwealth countries and the governments of the provinces, states and territories of Australia and Canada in October 2011. The findings from this study (Hoosen, 2012) acted as a key input to the World OER Congress and ultimately the formulation of the Paris OER Declaration.
In the months leading up to the June 2012 Congress, COL and UNESCO organized 6 policy fora in all UNESCO regions to inform governments and educational leaders about the potential of OER and to invite them to participate in the drafting of the Paris Declaration. The2012 Regional Policy Fora were organized with the support of national authorities in the host countriesand were held in: Barbados (Caribbean Regional Forum, 24-26 January ); South Africa (Africa Regional Forum, 21-23 February); Brazil (Latin America Regional Forum, 28-29 March ); United Kingdom, (Europe Regional Forum, 17 April) ; Thailand (Asia and the Pacific Regional Forum, 23 -24 April ); Oman (Arab States Regional Forum, 7-8 May) . These regional workshops served to lift up new voices, provide examples, and generate new champions. They also served as the basis for the establishment of advocacy, capacity-building and policy work undertaken by UNESCO in the implementation of the Paris OER Declaration 2012.