The Bureau of the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) approved 80 projects for grants totaling US$1,4 million, providing an opportunity for the expansion of free and independent media in developing countries. The eight-member Bureau, which met from 20 to 21 March 2014 at UNESCO HQ in Paris, selected the projects from among 109 proposals submitted this year by local media organizations worldwide.
Forty-two percent of the funding targeted Africa – a region that UNESCO treats as a ‘global priority’. In comparison, 23,5% of the funds will support projects in the Asia-Pacific as well as the Latin-American and Caribbean regions while 10% was earmarked for the Arab region. European project support represents one percent of the budget envelope.
In Africa, one of the grantees includes the Moeling Youth Community Radio in Lesotho, with US$ 25,000 earmarked to provide infrastructural support for the creation of the radio station, and subsequently provide the professionals working there with the relevant knowledge and skills to produce developmental programmes targeted at young people and women.
In Iraq, project support of US$ 20,000 will go towards meeting the training needs of women reporters, editors and managers, reflecting UNESCO’s second global priority focusing on gender equality (in the newsroom).
In the Republic of Palau, the US$ 28,000 allotted will be instrumental in the creation of the first ever free-to-air television station in a country dominated by subscription cable television, opening up the airwaves to other players and providing an opportunity for at least ten Palauans to receive substantive training in the field of television production.
A fourth project, worth US$ 16,000, aims to train over 40 media professionals staffing Bolivian miners’ radio stations, further strengthening their knowledge and skills to produce programmes that reinforce miners’ rights and cultural identity.
An additional allocation of US$ 20,000 was provided to support the application of the UNESCO/IPDC Journalists’ Safety Indicators (JSIs), a subset of UNESCO’s Media Development Indicators (MDIs) designed to assess the level of journalists’ safety in a given country. The purpose of the tool is also to measure the actions undertaken by various stakeholders in promoting safety and tackling the impunity of crimes committed against media workers. As such, it will help evaluate progress in the implementation of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.
The IPDC Bureau also set aside US$ 15,000 as seed funding for the Global Initiative for Excellence in Journalism Education, which intends to promote partnerships among schools of journalism around a set of core principles of excellence in teaching, research and professional outreach.
The meeting involved discussions on the IPDC’s other standard-setting and normative initiatives. These included an update on the knowledge-driven media initiative, which seeks to enhance the role of knowledge in informing UNESCO’s media development efforts. Bureau members were also presented with a report focusing on the impact of the MDI-based assessments of national media landscapes carried out to date.
The Bureau confirmed that the topic of the thematic debate at the next session of the IPDC Intergovernmental Council on 19-21 November 2014 would be ‘Online privacy and freedom of expression’.
The IPDC Bureau is the body in charge of project selection and allocation of funds, and includes representatives of Member States from each of UNESCO’s different regional groups.