Building peace in the minds of men and women

Youth Open Letter to Heads of International Development Organizations and States to Act on Media and Information Literacy

28 October 2019

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© Ann-Charlotte Rugfelt Ferm

Youth from around the world gathered in Gothenburg, Sweden, on 26 September 2019, for the 4th Youth Agenda Forum of Global Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Week 2019. During the Closing Session, the participants unanimously adopted an Open Letter urging Heads of International Development Organizations and Heads of States to put media and information literacy on their development agenda.

Following the Global Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Week 2019 Feature Conference on 24-25 September 2019, young people shed light on issues related to MIL that are most relevant to them at the Youth Agenda Forum. The Youth Agenda Forum was co-organized by the Region Västra Götaland and UNESCO, in cooperation with, among others, the Youth Sub-Committee of the Global Alliance for Partnerships on Media and Information Literacy (GAPMIL) and the University of Gothenburg.

Global MIL Week did not regard youth solely as beneficiaries. Youth have the capacity to be leaders and change makers when they are equipped with necessary skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and collaboration. UNESCO empowers youth by fostering their engagement in their communities and with policy makers, including those who go unnoticed or do not have opportunity to engage in civic action with public authorities.

It is in this connection that Global MIL Week granted youth the platform to be spokespersons for their generation. As a UNESCO Youth Space, the Youth Agenda Forum of Global MIL Week 2019 was conceptualized and led by youth and for youth.

Heads of youth organizations, young journalists, researchers, activists and other young professionals contributed to diverse, insightful and entertaining exchanges during the day, around the theme “MIL Citizens: Informed, Engaged, Empowered”.

The youth participants decided to speak directly to duty bearers at the highest level by addressing an Open Letter to Heads of International Development Organizations and Heads of States.

The Open Letter was drafted by a youth drafting committee prior to the event, shared with all participants of the Youth Agenda Forum, refined and finalized during the event, as an outcome document. The Open Letter stresses the vital role of MIL and youth in the sustainable development process and encompasses specific calls to action directly addressing Heads of International Development Organizations and Heads of States from different angles, urging them to advance MIL development in their countries and globally, as the excerpt below illustrates:

“We call upon you to: 1) support the development of national and international media and information literacy policies and programmes to increase access to media and information literacy learning, 2) introduce media and information literacy as a mandatory component of curricula into national education systems at all levels, and 3) educate all citizens, especially youth, on contemporary information, technological and media practices, so that we become informed, engaged, and empowered stewards of communications.”

As an extension to youth who could not attend the Youth Agenda Forum, the youth committee engaged some 900 MIL CLICKers[1] from over 110 countries who further adopted Open Letter. The participating youth have planned to coordinate the delivery of the Open Letter to Heads of International Development Organizations and Heads of States.

The full Open Letter can be downloaded here.

The Youth Agenda Forum was initiated in 2016 within the framework of Global MIL Week 2016. Its first edition was led by the GAPMIL Youth Sub-Committee, with the support of UNESCO as well as the host, University of Sao Paulo. Since then, the Forum has become a tradition of Global MIL Week with editions in 2017, (Jamaica, University of the West Indies) and 2018 (Latvia, University of Latvia).

The Feature Conference and the Youth Agenda Forum are the two Feature Events of Global MIL Week, alongside other celebration events around the globe.

 

[1] MIL CLICKers are people involved in media and information literacy and endorse the MIL CLICKS Pact.