UNESCO promoted free, independent and plural media in digital age as a crucial task to achieving SDGs at WSIS Forum 2016

A free press, independent and plural media and investigative journalism as well as emerging social media and big data is essential to meeting all targets of the SDGs.

This was the strong message delivered by the participants of the 11th facilitation meeting of WSIS Action Line C9 media, as convened by UNESCO at WSIS Forum 2016, 4th May.

Panelists and participants highlighted the relevance of post-2015 WSIS Outcome Document for an expanded vision of media-related issues.

They also explored the challenges to operationalize the two indicators for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Target 16.10 as jointly proposed by UNESCO, World Bank, OHCHR, ILO and GFMD:

  • 16.10.1 Number of verified cases of killing, kidnapping, enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention and torture of journalists, associated media personnel, trade unionists and human rights advocates in the previous 12 months.
  • 16.10.2 Number of countries that adopt and implement constitutional, statutory and/or policy guarantees for public access to information.
  • The participants recognized great significance of having these two indicators which various actors can use to understand, monitor and report on the SDG 16.10.

Participants also agreed that WSIS Action Line C9 “media” plays a crucial role in advancing all SDGs.

They underlined that without free, independent and plural media, online and offline, government and citizens would not be informed on crucial development issues. Without monitoring daily developments related to SDGs, not a single SDG would be achieved, it was argued.

Platforms as social media and tools like big data could all contribute to the measuring, monitoring and implementing the SDGs.

On the indicator of safety of journalists, the challenge for implementation is to achieve protection for whistle blowers, bloggers and freelancers, and to get data on this.

On the indicator of access to information, the issues discussed covered open government, open data, big data, intermediaries’ liability, quality journalism and investigative journalism, as well as social media and citizen journalism.

Envisioning the implementation of Action Line C9 media in post-2015 phase, participants noted key challenges on protecting safety of women journalists, corporate media concentration, and national security laws' impacting freedom of expression.

The importance of privacy and encryption, journalism education and media and information literacy was also signaled.

Participants said it remained a crucial task for Action Line C9 “media” to further explore an integrated approach to maximize media’s significance for sustainable development.

This could contribute towards formulating media law and regulatory frameworks which enable free, independent and pluralistic media, online and offline, in the digital age.

The meeting program is available at the link: