18.12.2017 - UNESCO Office in Harare

Media’s role in sustainable development undeniable

Experts at the UNESCO Regional Experts Meeting on “Media 4 SDGs” held in Harare, Zimbabwe from the 11th to 12th of December, endorsed the need to involve the media in the implementation of sustainable development goals (SDGs). Media in all its forms has a crucial role to play in the development agenda to ensure that citizens are well informed.

Ambassador Mary Mubi, Senior Principal Director-Public Affairs and Knowledge Management in the Office of the President and Cabinet (Zimbabwe) said the media should remain a watchdog.

“However, it should be an informed and knowledgeable watchdog. They should be informed about the opportunities and challenges that exist in each sector so that reporting is done within context,” she said.

She also highlighted the critical need to track progress and share best practices and that global development priorities should be cascaded to the regional levels.

Mr. Bishow Parajuli, the UN Resident Coordinator, commended the efforts by Zimbabwe to link national development priorities to SDGs articulated in ZimAsset. He highlighted that “Development priorities should be aligned to financing priorities” so that the national budget reflects the country’s development priorities.

Prof. Guy Berger, Director of the Division of Freedom of Expression and Media Development at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, noted that a contextual dialogue in countries is required to ensure that the relevant SGDs are addressed in the society concerned as each country has different development needs.

Prof. Hubert Gijzen, Regional Director and Representative of the UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa, emphasized that media have a key role in creating better awareness by enlightening and informing the public on issues related to poverty, inequalities, education, health, energy, sustainable development, gender, environment, etc. Likewise, he noted that independent and community media, as well as social media are critical to give a voice to those who are often not heard.   

The media has important roles to play namely to inform and educate, provide a platform for public debate and discussion, serve as catalyst for citizens’ empowerment and help to hold government and authorities to account.

The experts meeting deliberated on the issue of Media for SDGs with the recognition that peace and sustainable development increasingly depends on the participation of informed people, which requires the free flow of information and knowledge, and that this in turn depends on freedom of expression on all media platforms and access to information.

The regional experts recommended the following actions:

  • Development of quality content and public service journalism through cross border production content sharing
  • Capacity building of media professionals on data journalism, science or environmental journalism, as well as investigative reporting.
  • Implementation of special programmes on SGDs for journalism schools
  • Creation of regional networks of specialized journalists
  • Creation of a database of validated SGDs information, freely accessible for the media
  • Identification of gender balanced roster of experts available for the media
  • Strengthening of regional and national groupings of information dissemination on SGDs through networks and partnerships
  • Advocacy and policy advice for a conducive enabling environment

 

UNESCO ROSA is developing a regional project that will address these issues. The project concept was presented to development partners on the last day of the experts meeting.

For more information, please contact: h.dlamini(at)unesco.org.  




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