Small Island Developing States (SIDS)
Communication and Information
Connectivity, information management and knowledge sharing
Priority 5: Increasing connectivity, information management and knowledge-sharing
Freedom of expression and democracy have been recognized in the SAMOA Pathway outcome document as fundamental conditions in reducing inequalities and the development of just democratic societies. As the United Nations agency with a specific mandate to promote “the free flow of ideas by word and image” UNESCO will work to foster free, independent and pluralistic media off and online in the SIDS. As a means to induce the transformative changes needed to address the complex and inter-related challenges that SIDS are encountering to access information and greater knowledge-sharing, UNESCO will work to promote policies for media development, press freedom and the safety of journalists through its International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC). IPDC will not only provide support for media projects – it will also work to secure healthy environments for the growth of free and pluralistic media in SIDS.
The free sharing of knowledge and information plays a pivotal role in the lives of SIDS inhabitants. The rapidly accelerating development of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) has the power to positively transform SIDS to create inclusive knowledge societies and empower communities to access, create, share, and preserve knowledge and information for sustainable development. As a key to building peace and sustainable economic development in the SIDS, the Organization, with the support of its intergovernmental Information for All Programme (IFAP), will promote ‘openness’ in content, technology, and processes through awareness-raising, policy formulation and capacity-building. UNESCO will also support, and promote local content production in SIDS, by preserving their documentary heritage and encouraging multilingualism and respect for cultural diversity in cyberspace.
Three priority areas in communications are particularly relevant to address sustainable development in SIDS:
Media development and literacy
To enhance pluralistic media and empower audiences and local actors in Member States to foster media development, including through International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC).
- Support SIDS in fostering free, independent and pluralistic media systems, including community radio, through journalism education and targeted support to media development.
- Support SIDS in establishing media and information literacy as a means for intercultural dialogue, peace, and sustainable development among various stakeholders, including young journalists, journalism educators, as well as media and information specialists.
- In April 2016, UNESCO launched an awareness-raising campaign, showing the media’s full potential in times of epidemics and crises, specifically to contain the spread of Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean. Informative and preventive radio spots, produced by UNESCO in collaboration with IFRC and WHO, were made available online, free of charge, to be downloaded, shared and broadcast by public, private and community radio stations. These radio spots informed their audiences on the risks associated with the virus and promoted healthy behaviors.
- Following the Zika virus outbreak in Latin America and the Caribbean, UNESCO organized a workshop in Panama City, Panama, to address the issue of cooperation and the relationship between media and humanitarian organizations in disaster and emergency situations.
- In the area of community media, the 32 phasing-out radio stations have reinforced their capacities to ensure the sustainability of achieved results during the first phase of the project. At least 800 radio stations have broadcast the radio spots on Zika virus across the region of Latin America and the Caribbean.
- Local actors in Member States have fostered media development through the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC). The 60th IPDC Bureau was organized on 17 and 18 March 2016. Out of more than a hundred submissions received, 59 met IPDC’s quality standards and were submitted to the Bureau for consideration. Fifty-one projects were finally approved in 46 countries for a total amount of US $721,000. Seventeen of the projects approved were in Africa, five in the Arab region, 17 in Asia and the Pacific, 11 in Latin America and the Caribbean and one had an international scope. With specific reference to SIDS, a total of $96,000 in project support was approved for Samoa, Timor-Leste, the Maldives, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Jamaica, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. This represents $39,000 over and above the projected $60,000.
To support SIDS in advancing universal access to information through Open Solutions and the Information for All Programme (IFAP).
- Foster the use of open solutions and Open Access by actively participating in implementing UNESCO’s global strategy for Open Access to scientific research and scholarly communication.
- Enable access by learners to relevant, high-quality educational opportunities such as Open Educational Resources (OERs) and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).
- Use ICTs as a tool of empowerment, namely for strengthening capacity-building opportunities, improving accessibility to information, preserving as well as for promoting local content, freedom of expression, multilingualism and the ethical dimension in the knowledge societies.
- Assist SIDS with the integration of ICT in education, to ensure that education remains relevant, responsive and effective for all and ensure greater access to ICTs platforms to enable higher education opportunities for those living in remote places and build the capacity of teachers through ICT-CFT.
- Develop comprehensive localized training programmes for effective skills transfer in mobile apps development, to build a vibrant, inclusive community of practice to ensure young people from all communities and all abilities are fully involved.
- Enhance inter-regional and international collaboration between academic research institutions (universities, centres, …) particularly relevant in the context of SIDS, including the potential for establishment of new research chairs.
To preserve documentary heritage in SIDS, including through the Memory of the World Programme.
- Undertake measures for the protection of, and access to, documentary heritage in SIDS through the Memory of the World Programme, while fostering capacities and the contribution of heritage institutions and professionals to knowledge societies to constantly meet evolving trends and developments in this field.
- Use ICTs as a tool of empowerment, namely for strengthening capacity building opportunities, improving accessibility, preserving and protecting documentary heritage.
- Develop documentary heritage education and its importance for memory and identity.