“At this time of change, freedom of expression and media development are essential for crafting a new, truly human-centred approach to development,” UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said at the closing ceremony of the Global Media Forum today in Bali, Indonesia.
The three-day “Global Media Forum: (GMF) The Role of Media in Realizing the Future We Want For All” culminated with the release of the Bali Road Map, a call to action for the inclusion of media on the global development agenda.
Ms Bokova recalled the 2013 UNESCO General Conference when Member States underlined the need for freedom of expression and universal access to knowledge and its preservation to be reflected in the post-2015 development agenda. Both were singled out for the role they play in helping democracies flourish and fostering citizen participation.
“These ideas, powerful ideas, are now being taken forward by Member States and I appeal for an ambitious agenda with human rights at its heart. This is indeed the spirit of the Bali Road Map you all have agreed,” Ms Bokova said.
The Director-General spoke of the importance of a free and vibrant sector in all facets of human and social development.
“Freedom of expression is essential to dignity, democracy, sustainable development, dialogue peace and tolerance. Information and knowledge hold the key to crafting the future we want for all,” Ms Bokova said. “The UNESCO Constitution … calls for the ‘free flow of ideas by word and image’ – as we shape a new agenda to follow 2015, this mandate has never been so important for international peace and for the common welfare of all humanity, for the future we want for all.”
Professor Wiendu Nuryanti, Vice Minister of Education and Culture of Indonesia Cultural Affairs, spoke of the power of digital media to break down barriers and empower youth, while also warning of the potential pitfalls.
“[Youth] are creating a new global future in which we can learn and share about other’s cultures in ways undreamed of even a decade ago,” she said. “With this great opportunity comes great responsibility. We have to move forward in a positive optimistic way and not let digital media become tools to promote hate and conflict.”
In his closing remarks, Tifatul Sembiring, Minister of Communication and Information Technologies, Republic of Indonesia, spoke of the role of free expression and media in promoting a culture of peace and respect for diversity.
“Self-expression is the landmark of democracy," he said. “I am confident that the role of media that we have just discussed during the Global Media Forum can nurture and lead to a more civilized society and to peace, prosperity and harmony.”
Media’s role as a bridge between cultures was the focus of remarks from Ambassador Tariq Al-Ansari, Chief of Cabinet of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations.
“The media can promote peaceful coexistence as the cement of economic development and prosperity,” he said. “The media in all its forms holds the potential to serve as a bridge between cultures and societies.
Ensuring that action is taken to support media on the global development agenda is the aim of the Bali Road Map, the final outcome of the three-day GMF, which brought together more than 200 participants, including journalists, government officials, scholars and other stakeholders from more than 30 countries.
It states: “The Global Media Forum adopts this Road Map to realize the potential of the media to contribute to sustainable development, and to promote the inclusion of a goal acknowledging the importance of freedom of expression and independent media in the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.”
To that end the Road Map proposed a wide range of actions for three groups: media professionals, governments as well as UNESCO and the wider international community. All actions proposed are aimed at media development or in harnessing media for development ends.
The Road Map will be used as the basis to advocate for the inclusion of media as a standalone goal in the Sustainable Development Goals, which will succeed the Millennium Development Goals set to expire in 2015.
In addition to the creation of the Road Map, the GMF has also proved successful in strengthening regional and inter-regional networks committed to media development and media for development.
Whether media can aid in forwarding the sustainable development agenda over the long term depends on the engagement of youth. Recognizing this, the GMF welcomed more than 70 youth from around Asia-Pacific who added a lively element to forum discussions, provided coverage of the forum results and helped stir a robust debate on Twitter using the hashtag #Media4Future.
For further information please contact Mr Charaf Ahmimed, Programme Specialist for Social and Human Sciences, UNESCO Jakarta Office at + 6281807777444 or email: c.ahimed(at)unesco.org
The Bali Road Map will be posted on the forum’s website: Bali-gmf.com