Media4SDGs

In 2014, UNESCO organised a Global Media Forum in Bali, Indonesia, which underscored that free and independent media and information and communications technologies will have a prominent position in the Sustainable Development Agenda, particularly for the marginalised groups. The Forum adopted the Bali Roadmap, which contains recommendations that shine the spot-light on the important role the media plays in informing and educating the public on issues related to education, health, the environment, gender and minorities. 

The Bali Roadmap highlights the critical role independent media as well as community media play in giving a voice to marginalised groups to become active citizens by having an influence on political decisions that affect their lives. It also stipulates that countries and the international community must ensure that the conditions for this are realised in every region of the world, and media and civil society organisations must seize the opportunities that new media has offered to connect with broader audiences.

Building on the lessons and recommendations of the Bali Roadmap and also as part of the newly established SADC-UNESCO Framework Agreement for Cooperation, UNESCO is leading the Media for Sustainable Development Goals (Media4SDGs) initiative. The initiative will contribute to enhancing public debate and civic engagement in SDG implementation through media (community, social, private, state and public) creating a new avenue for storytelling in relation to the SDGs.

Through this initiative, UNESCO aims to reinforce and develop the important role the media plays in informing and educating the public on issues related to education, health, the environment, gender, and minorities, giving a voice to those who are often not heard and making it possible for marginalised groups to become active citizens by having an influence on political decisions that affect their lives.

Peace and sustainable development increasingly depend on the participation of informed people, which requires the free flow of information and knowledge; and this in turn depends on freedom of expression on all media platforms and access to information.

The project is based on the conviction that media has a multidimensional role:

  • to inform, raise awareness and educate;
  • to be a platform for public debate and civic engagement;
  • to empower individuals and groups through knowledge sharing; and
  • to hold governments, authorities, and corporations accountable.

Fulfilment of these roles require a free, independent and pluralistic media because citizens depend on news media as a source of most of their information, even if this is partially also mediated through social media. To inform and engage the public on issues of their concern, requires media that has the capacity and the operating environment that allows media to play its expected role in covering issues of public interest in a compelling and illuminating way. This media should also investigate issues and policies in ways that audiences can understand.

The project is intended to include activities at regional and national levels.  The Media4SDGs implementation will be carried-out simultaneously at regional and country levels depending on available resources and partnerships.

The initiative will be implemented through:

  • Capacity building and training in the field of data journalism, science, environmental journalism as well as investigative reporting;
  • Quality content production and sharing, including the creation of a database of validated SDG information, freely accessible for the media;
  • Establishing partnerships and networks (e.g. networks of regional specialised journalists, regional and national groups for information dissemination);
  • Advocacy on legal reform and regulatory framework for a conducive enabling environment;
  • Increased media coverage of issues affecting women, youth and marginalized groups; and
  • Increased public debates on media regarding SDGs.

To get involved in the Media4SDGs initiative, please contact: h.dlamini(at)unesco.org and i.tagwireyi(at)unesco.org.  

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