BALI, INDONESIA, 26, AUGUST 2014 – The Global Media Forum: The Role of Media in Realizing the Future We Want for All opened this morning in Bali, Indonesia, offering a timely platform to discuss and advocate on behalf of the crucial role media plays in development.
More than 200 participants, including journalists, government officials, scholars and other stakeholders from 35 countries have gathered for the three-day GMF to work towards the inclusion of media as a standalone goal in the next global development agenda.
In his opening remarks at the GMF, UNESCO Jakarta Director Hubert Gijzen said the media is a key partner and actor for social and human development.
“Media is an indispensable element in mobilizing public participation, including the most vulnerable groups, in enhancing interreligious and intercultural dialogue, in addressing concerns about environmental sustainability, in protecting and promoting all human rights for all persons, and in contributing to poverty eradication and good governance by ensuring transparency and accountability,” Mr Gijzen said.
“It is through dialogue and access to information that the world can achieve global visions of sustainable development,” he said. “The media play a prominent role in helping to achieve this. This includes a role of free and pluralistic media to give a voice to marginalised groups, ethnic and religious minorities, women and youth.”
In his opening remarks, Indonesian Minister of Communication and Information Technologies Titaful Sembiring said that 10 years on from the country’s democratic transition, Indonesia, “like the UN now has a post-transitional development agenda to complete”, and that the media is a key factor in this.
“We are grateful that in our country our media and the voices of the people have never been marginalized,” he said. “In fact, the media and the people now are in the driver’s seat of nation building.”
He also said that at a time when the country is “drowning in information” coming from multiple outlets, media literacy is essential for Indonesians to make informed choices.
“People need to be made literate and empowered to access information so they can lead [decent lives],” he said. “The media owe it to the public to provide information that is meaningful, educative and inspiring so that they can make informed decisions to take actions related to their future.”
Mr Sembiring said that 10 years since its first democratic transition, Indonesia, “like the UN now has a post-transitional development agenda to complete.
Media development and the role of media in development in Indonesia is one of the major sub-themes of the forum, with experts from the country participating in most of the discussions at the GMF.
In his opening remarks, Professor Arief Rachman, Executive Chairman of the Indonesian National Commission for UNESCO, cited Indonesia as an example of the positive impact media can have in peace-building. “There are 17,000 Islands in Indonesia, 783 languages and 5 major religions. We all still live peacefully. You know why? Because of media,” he said. “Let us hope that through this forum we can respect responsible freedom of expression as a fundamental right as well as enablers of the post-2015 development agenda goals.”
Femi Oke, host of Al Jazeera English’s The Stream, opened the first session of the forum with a lively multimedia keynote address, which focused both on the potential of media and social media to drive change in societies, as well as the challenges posed in making development issues engaging in modern media.
Among the other keynote speakers set to address the forum is Earth Institute founder and leading advocate for sustainable development Jeffrey Sachs, who will deliver his remarks via livestreaming on the second day of the session.
The GMF comes as the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals are set to expire next year, making this a crucial time for discussion and debate on the priorities for the next 15 years.
The forum will culminate in the Bali Roadmap, a document that will argue for the inclusion of media as a standalone goal on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, also known as the Sustainable Development Goals.
In a reflection of the organization’s commitment to ensuring that media receives a place of prominence on the global development agenda, UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova will deliver the closing remarks of the GMF on 28 August.
The GMF carries on from the UNESCO International Conference celebrated to commemorate World Press Freedom Day on 5-6 May 2014 in Paris, which championed press freedom and freedom information as fundamental rights and enablers of many goals relevant to the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
These include good governance, transparency and access to information, empowerment of women and youth, ending poverty, sustainable development and ensuring stable and peaceful societies.
For further information please contact Mr Charaf Ahmimed, Programme Specialist for Social and Human Sciences, UNESCO Jakarta Office at + 6281807777444 or email: c.ahmimed(at)unesco.org.
Follow the forum on social media by using the hashtag #Media4Future
Please also visit www.bali-gmf.com
Photo 2: H.E. Mr. Tiffatul Sembiring rings the ceremonial gong to open the GMF Forum. Photo by Abdul Azeem