UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, underscored the need for dialogue and collective problem solving as she addressed an international audience of leaders at the 6th World Government Summit in Dubai (United Arab Emirates).
“It is time to reflect on action we wish to take to shape our future governments, how we can renew and reinforce universal principles of human dignity and humanist values, how we can work in greater harmony with our planet”, said Ms Azoulay.
In her address, the Director-General highlighted challenges facing humanity in the 21st century, including climate change and the advent of revolutionary technological developments such as artificial intelligence. She insisted on the need to pool our collective intelligence and work together to find sustainable solutions.
“Education, science, culture and communication are the threads that bind us together,” concluded the Director-General. “Only through our collective intelligence can we hope to solve the unprecedented challenges we face. But collective intelligence is not enough, we must put it into action, together.”
In this context, she commended the political commitment of the United Arab Emirates as global leaders in prioritizing the development of knowledge, innovation and science.
During her visit, the Director-General met Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mohammed Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future, Omar Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence and Noora Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge development.
Ms Azoulay also visited Abu Dhabi where she had a bilateral meeting with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
An innovative project recycling and transforming waste into educational tools and art forms is one of many sustainable development schemes coordinated by the local sub-unit of the Yemeni National Commission for UNESCO.
The sub-unit, based in the province of Hodeidah with work extending to neighbouring areas, acts to coordinate and implement the multiple activities of projects on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). It brings together educational, civil and private sector organizations to mobilize communities towards achieving the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and improving their own environment.
Since 2012, the initiative’s successes include training 60 teachers on the UNESCO course “Education and Learning for a Sustainable Future” and training 320 youth on project management and marketing. It has also established a youth foundation and community college and organized training of trainers.
Project Manager Faisal Ali Ayed said: “The Hodeidah work is particularly important because it is the first project in Yemen that has succeeded in using ESD in a context of large population density and a high percentage of youth facing the multiple challenges of poverty and unemployment.”
Other innovations include using teachers for e-learning, setting up of electronic libraries and collecting funds for poor students to provide breakfast, school meals, school uniform and school bags. Alongside these are awareness campaigns offering information and advice around healthy balanced food, early marriage and HIV/AIDS.
Sustainable development clubs have also been established in some schools to promote community activities related to all dimensions of sustainable development (environmental, social and economic).
Mr Ayed explained why the work had been so successful. “The project has a really dedicated team and collaborating partners. For that reason, the project has achieved real transformation in practices in schools and community and at the same time has received huge media attention so the impact is spread.”
For the future, there are plans to expand the implementation of ESD projects, increase the number of the beneficiaries of educational institutions, in particular youth and women, spread the work to the neighbouring provinces of Hajjah and Rimah where six major projects will be implemented to train school principals, teacher trainers, educators, women and young people on ESD.
An important aspect of the work is enabling young people and women to enter or re-enter the labour market. So far, 920 youth and women have received life and professional skills training and help on integration into the labour market.
“The project has contributed to empowering women to participate in community development as well as changing society's vision of the role of women and enabling the acceptance of different roles for women in society,” said Mr Ayed.
Show us your commitment to your ocean (and your health) – this Valentine’s day the Sea Change team are asking everyone to pledge one action to #LovetheOcean and encourage others to do the same by sharing your love across social media.
It’s easy to say we love the ocean, but for many of us, our everyday actions tell a different story. Seas of plastic, declining fish stocks and ocean acidification are just some examples of the destruction caused to the ocean by our everyday activities, which also have a profound effect on our health and wellbeing. Our relationship with the ocean has become toxic and one-sided. After all, the ocean loves us in real ways – like giving us half the oxygen we breathe, climate regulation, food, medicines and a variety of recreational opportunities.
The ‘Love the Ocean’ campaign aims to rebalance our relationship with the ocean and show our appreciation by pledging to take real action each day, sharing our pledges and actions online, and tagging them with #LovetheOcean.
‘Love the Ocean’ coincides with the final conference of the EU Horizon 2020 funded Sea Change project on 15 February 2018 at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, concluding three years of empowering and educating citizens to take action for our ocean. The conference will focus on the project’s achievements and plan for the coming years, maintaining the momentum of ocean literacy by linking with initiatives worldwide in the run up to the upcoming UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).
Jon Parr, coordinator of the Sea Change project, is looking forward to the conference:
“Sea Change has been looking to make a difference, to make a Sea Change, in our attitude in Europe, to our seas and ocean. We are gathering in Paris on the 15th February to celebrate what has been achieved and share our love for the ocean. We also want to look to the future, continuing that Sea Change. A lot has happened since Sea Change began and I feel confident that the recognition of the importance of our everyday lives on the ocean is growing and growing. We can all make positive changes and show our Love for the Ocean through #LovetheOcean”.
We are asking for the public to post a photo or short video using the #LovetheOcean hashtag, showing what change they pledge to make to their daily lives. No change is too great or too small – you could make a pledge to take the bus to work, or simply to stop using disposable plastic drinking straws. Every positive action makes a difference to the health of our ocean! A selection of your posts will be viewed at the conference in Paris and will provide valuable insights to our team. You can also use our Facebook cover photo to share your support for the ocean across social media.
The Sea Change project has sought to foster positive behaviour change by improving the ‘ocean literacy’ of citizens, whereby greater understanding will empower individuals to change their behaviour, creating an overall ‘sea change’ in how society views its relationship with the ocean. This will lead to healthy seas, healthy communities and ultimately – a healthy planet.
We are promoting our ‘Love the Ocean’ campaign via Thunderclap now. Please click here for more information.
Join other Sea Changers today: make your pledge using the #LovetheOcean hashtag and tag us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Visit our campaign page at www.lovetheocean.eu and download our Press Pack right here!
For more information, please contact:
Francesca Santoro (f.santoro(at)unesco.org), Tel: +39 041 2601539
For more information on the Sea Change project, please visit: www.seachangeproject.eu
Bamako le 12 février 2018 – La cérémonie de remise de matériels informatique à IHERI-ABT aura lieu à 16h, sous la présidence du Directeur Général de l’IHERI-ABT, et de M. Hervé Huot-Marchand, Chef du Bureau, Représentant de l’UNESCO au Mali, en présence des partenaires techniques et financiers dont notamment l’Union Européenne, la MINUSMA, et en collaboration étroite avec les Ministères à la fois de la Culture et de l’Enseignement Supérieur et de la Recherche Scientifique.
Cette cérémonie de remise de matériels, qui sera organisée par le Bureau de l’UNESCO à Bamako en partenariat avec l’IHERI-ABT, a pour objectif de renforcer les capacités de l’IHERI-ABT en matière d’équipement informatiques, de recherche, de conservation physique et de valorisation des manuscrits anciens du Mali. Etablissement Public à caractère scientifique, technologique et culturel, l’IHERI-ABT a pour mission l’enseignement et la Recherche dans les domaines des sciences et de la civilisation islamique. A ce titre, il est chargé de la conservation générale (collecte, conservation, restauration et la vulgarisation) des documents écrits en langue arabe et ou en toutes autres langues relatives à la culture et l’histoire de l’Afrique. En vue de contribuer à l’atteinte de ces objectifs, le Bureau de l’UNESCO à Bamako va mettre à la disposition de l’IHERI-ABT deux ordinateurs portables, un système complet de visioconférence (écran TV de 42 pouces, camera, micro, hautparleur et logiciel de visioconférence), des accessoires grâce à l’appui financier de l’Union Européenne. Ces équipements visent à renforcer les capacités de l'IHERI-ABT en matière de gestion administrative, de communication et de recherche, en offrant la possibilité de dispenser des modules et d'échanger à distance avec des institutions partenaires. Cela lui permettra également d’étendre son réseau de collaboration à travers le monde et d’accroitre son potentiel de productivité et d’exploitation des manuscrits anciens.
Il faut rappeler que cette activité s’inscrit dans le cadre de la mise en œuvre de la deuxième phase du Programme de réhabilitation du patrimoine culturel et de sauvegarde des manuscrits anciens du Mali, qui met un accent particulier à l’exploitation scientifique des manuscrits anciens. L’UNESCO, depuis la première phase de ce programme, appuie l’IHERI-ABT dans le cadre de la conservation physique, le catalogage, le répertoire et la réhabilitation du bâtiment.
The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, will carry out her first visit to the Arab Region from 13 to 14 February on the occasion of the International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq, which will take place in Kuwait (12 to 14 February). Participants at the Conference will take stock of Iraq’s needs and help mobilize civil society, the private sector and all international players around the country’s reconstruction.
Organized by the governments of Kuwait and Iraq with the support of the World Bank, the European Union and the United Nations, the Conference will enable the Director-General to reaffirm UNESCO’s commitment to the process of national reconciliation. She will also highlight the Organization’s work and role in support of emergency education and heritage protection as factors of national cohesion.
Ms Azoulay will take the floor during the last and politically important day of the conference, alongside the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad al Jaber Al Sabah, the Prime Minister of Iraq, Haider Al-Abadi, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini and the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim.
The Director-General will also hold bilateral talks with the Emir of Kuwait, the Prime Minister of Iraq and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
On 13 February, the Director-General will travel to Dubai (United Arab Emirate) to take part in the World Governments’ Summit in Dubai (United Arab Emirates). During the closing plenary session, she will speak on the subject of Collective Intelligence in Action: UNESCO’s Role in Meeting the Challenges of the 21st Century. Ms Azoulay will hold meetings with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Emir of Dubai, and Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Also on 13 February, the Director-General will visit Abu Dhabi to meet Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince and Defence Minister, and visit the Abu Dhabi Louvre museum in the company of Noora Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development.
Key Elements concerning cooperation between UNESCO and Iraq in education and culture:
In 2017, UNESCO organized the International Coordination Conference on the Safeguarding of Cultural Heritage in Liberated Areas of Iraq which led to the adoption of a plan of action for the safeguarding of the country’s archaeological sites, historical cities, museums and religious heritage.
Iraq has five sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
UNESCO Office in Iraq, Dhea Subhee, email@example.com, +9647827832739
UNESCO Media Service (Headquarters), Laetitia Kaci, firstname.lastname@example.org, +33 145681772
La Directrice générale de l’UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, effectuera sa première visite dans le monde arabe les 13 et 14 février à l’occasion de la Conférence internationale pour la reconstruction de l’Iraq, qui aura lieu à Koweït (du 12 au 14 février). Cette Conférence doit permettre d’évaluer les besoins de l’Iraq et de mobiliser la société civile, le secteur privé et l’ensemble des acteurs internationaux dans la reconstruction du pays.
Organisée par les gouvernements koweïtien et iraquien, avec le soutien de la Banque mondiale, de l’Union européenne et des Nations Unies, cette conférence sera l’occasion pour la Directrice générale de réaffirmer l’engagement de l’UNESCO dans le processus de réconciliation nationale. Elle mettra également l’accent sur le travail et le rôle de l’Organisation en faveur de l’éducation d’urgence et de la protection du patrimoine iraquien comme vecteurs de cohésion nationale.
Son intervention est prévue lors de la dernière journée, point d’orgue politique en présence de l’Emir du Koweït, Cheikh Sabah Al Ahmad al Jaber Al Sabah, du Premier ministre d’Iraq, Haider Al-Abadi, du Secrétaire général des Nations Unies, Antonio Guterres, de la Haute représentante de l’Union européenne pour les Affaires étrangères et la politique de sécurité, Federica Mogherini et du Président de la Banque mondiale, Jim Yong Kim.
En marge de la Conférence internationale, plusieurs entretiens bilatéraux seront organisés et notamment avec l’Emir du Koweït, le Premier ministre d’Iraq et la Haute représentante de l’Union Européenne pour les Affaires étrangères et la politique de sécurité.
La Directrice générale se rendra également le 13 février à Dubaï (Emirats arabes unis) pour participer au Sommet mondial des gouvernements (World Governments Summit). Elle interviendra lors de la session plénière de clôture sur le thème : « L’intelligence collective en action : le rôle clé de l’UNESCO face aux défis du 21ème siècle ». Elle rencontrera Cheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Premier ministre des Emirats arabes unis et Emir de Dubaï ainsi qu'Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, ministre des Affaires étrangères.
Elle se rendra également le mardi 13 février à Abu Dhabi pour un entretien avec Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Prince héritier et ministre de la Défense et visitera le Louvre Abu Dhabi en compagnie de Noora Al Kaabi, ministre de la Culture et du Développement du Savoir.
Eléments clés sur la coopération entre l'UNESCO et les autorités iraquiennes dans les domaines de l'éducation et de la culture.
Dhea Subhee, Bureau de l'UNESCO en Iraq ; email@example.com, +9647827832739
Laetitia Kaci, Service de presse de l’UNESCO (Siège) ; firstname.lastname@example.org, +33 1 45 68 03 04
As part of the Partnership Day of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) Financing Conference (Dakar, 1-2 February 2018), the Education Systems’ Strengthening Task Team of the Regional Coordination Group on SDG4-ED2030 (RCG4) organized a panel on “Financing Education in West and Central Africa”. The Directors of the Education Commission and Education Cannot Wait, together with the Head of UNESCO’s IIEP-Pole de Dakar and the UNICEF Regional Education Adviser, shared insights on education financing in the region within development and humanitarian contexts, and discussed future prospects in light of SDG4-ED2030.
Whereas States in West and Central Africa (WCA) are making important budgetary efforts towards the improvement of their education systems, reaching on average 24.5% of recurrent public expenditure on education, serious funding gaps are still looming and improvements in efficient spending and equitable allocation are necessary. External aid for education in WCA has been declining in the sub-region, down to 0.51% of GDP in 2015. These funding gaps translate into an increasing share of education expenditure borne by households – close to 50% in some countries – and imperil the provision of equitable access and relevant learning outcomes for all.
Particularly challenging in WCA is the financing of education in humanitarian contexts, despite education being lifesaving, restoring a sense of normality and security for children and youth, and providing a key entry point for other sectors providing humanitarian responses such as protection, health, or nutrition. Evidence shows that education is not prioritized in humanitarian appeals and is the most underfunded sector in humanitarian response, with WCA presenting the worst situation including several protracted crises. Although volumes of education financing in humanitarian situations have been increasing, they are still significantly below needs.
After presenting the challenges faced by the region, the panelists discussed the way forward, proposing some concrete avenues for reflection based on recommendations from the Education Commission Report and the Education 2030 Framework for Action among others. As the primary responsibility for education provision rests with national governments, it will be crucial not only to mobilize increased domestic resources but to improve their effectiveness and efficiency. Ensuring an equitable distribution of these resources to benefit first and foremost the most at risk of not learning is equally critical.
Other recommendations included developing innovative funding mechanisms, for example through Public Private Partnership in TVET and Higher education, or a Multilateral Development Bank (MDB) investment mechanism for education. Also identified as critical is the need to increase international financing and enhance its effectiveness through harmonization, better coordination and building new alliances, while supporting the capacity of countries to disburse funds. With regard to humanitarian contexts, Education Cannot Wait (ECW) was created to respond innovatively to financing gaps. The Fund will increase its focus on WCA in the coming years not only by bringing in increased resources (directly or as a result of advocacy), but also by promoting a different way of doing education in emergencies, with increased coordination, joint programming and better accountability.
These fruitful and timely discussions will feed into current reflections on education financing as part of the Education Systems’ Strengthening Task Team’s activities towards the integration of SDG4 into national education planning.
Coordination & further information: Lily Neyestani-Hailu, Chair of the Regional Education Systems’ Strengthening Task Team (ESST)
In March 2017, based on the recommendation of the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs), the UN Statistical Commission approved a global framework of indicators to monitor progress towards achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their 169 targets. But what are these indicators, and how can they help us build a sustainable future?
When the 195 Member States of the United Nations unanimously adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a “plan of action for people, planet and prosperity”, they also agreed that they needed an effective way to track progress and monitor how close each year we get to achieving the 2030 agenda goals.
The indicator framework is a management tool to help countries develop implementation strategies, allocate resources, and ensure the accountability of all stakeholders for achieving the SDGs. For UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), this new framework constitutes an essential point of reference to help its Member States develop concrete policies to carry out SDG 14 to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources”.
“There are potentially four different levels of monitoring, each with overlapping but different sets of indicators. The IAEG-SDGs is responsible for developing the global framework of indicators, but there can be regional and national frameworks, as well as a thematic one,” explains Silvia Montoya, Director of UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics.
Schematic illustration of the indicators for national, regional, global, and thematic monitoring (source)
“The frameworks are developed for anyone to use, but in particular for countries and for organizations, such as the UN, with the mandate for monitoring the SDGs or aspects of the SDGs,” she continued. “Indicators are designed to be cross-nationally comparable. They are typically based on national data reported to the custodian agency for the given indicator; however, they may be adapted.”
IOC is currently the custodian agency for two SDG 14 indicators: for target 14.a, which calls nations to “increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer of marine technology (…)”, and target 14.3, which calls to “minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification, including through enhanced scientific cooperation at all levels”. IOC is also providing technical support to UN Environment on SDG 14 targets related to marine pollution and ecosystem-based management.
All indicators are classified by the IAEG-SDGs into three tiers based on their level of methodological development (are they ready to use or still need fine-tuning?), and the availability of data at the global level (have these data already been collected in the past; are there existing data-sets? Or is it something new?).
UNESCO’s IOC played an active role in informing the stakeholders in charge of defining the SDG indicators and the underlying data standards for the targets under its custodianship. Last November, the IAEG-SDGs reclassified indicator 14.a.1 on the “proportion of total research budget allocated to research in the field of marine technology” from Tier 3 to Tier 2.
“We at IOC are very happy that the international community has recognized the methodology developed for and exploited by the Global Ocean Science Report and the data collection carried out in 25 countries on their national investment in this area. I hope this recognition will encourage more countries to contribute their national data to the Report’s 2nd edition, expected around 2020 or 2021, making it an ever richer and more reliable tracker of the level of international cooperation aimed at conserving and sustainably using our ocean,” lauded the IOC Executive Secretary, Vladimir Ryabinin.
For the other targets and indicators for which it plays the role of “custodian agency”, the IOC will keep on developing further mechanisms to ensure they are operational and routinely measured and reported by Member States.
By analyzing each indicator’s trends over time and comparing with trends for countries or groups of countries in similar situations, governments should be able to determine if they are making adequate progress towards a target and, if not, to take corrective action. The first major review of the monitoring framework will take place in 2019 and be submitted to the UN Statistical Commission for adoption in 2020. A second review will take place five years later. Each year, SDG indicators that are operational are compiled and presented in the UN SDG Report.
“In addition, there will be a wide range of reports, including at different levels of monitoring, which will provide examples of good practice, identify main factors impeding progress towards a given target, and propose possible solutions. These will be a rich source of information for governments to help address similar problems they may be facing,” added Dr Montoya.
Given the breadth of national contexts, countries will likely adopt a variety of indicators. In the context of SDG 14 – the ocean SDG –, for example, landlocked countries would not report on many of the indicators, while numerous coastal countries who rely heavily on marine activities and resources may consider these indicators insufficient. This is where additional indicators or frameworks would come into play.
“A ‘regional’ framework designed for all coastal countries could be developed by an appropriate body or group of partners, or it could be defined as a thematic framework. The framework could then contain additional indicators of relevance. However, it is unlikely that the global framework will be expanded to cover all the variety of situations that could exist in the world,” concluded Dr Montoya.
For more information on the SDG indicators and monitoring framework related to IOC, please contact:
Julian Barbière (j.barbiere(at)unesco.org)
The board of the Global Network Initiative (GNI) meeting in Paris on Friday 9 February heard an appeal from UNESCO to take part in the current consultation about Internet indicators.
GNI is a leading coalition of Internet companies, academics, civil society and investors, formed to promote the rights to free expression and privacy in the online arena.
The grouping earlier partnered with UNESCO on 8 February to mount the colloquium “Improving the communications and information ecosystem to protect the integrity of elections”.
In a briefing to the GNI board, UNESCO Director for Freedom of Expression and Media Development Guy Berger, explained why UNESCO was consulting widely on indicators for the concept of Internet Universality.
“Once finalized, the indicators will enable stakeholders at national level to voluntarily map how their country’s experience of the Internet aligns with international standards on human Rights, Openness, Accessibility, and Multistakeholder participation,” he said.
Besides these four areas, summarized as the ROAM principles, the draft indicators also cover cross-cutting issues such as gender and age dimensions, sustainable development, and trust and security as well as legal and ethical aspects of the Internet.
The current draft of the indicators follows a first phase of consultation, which included 24 face-to-face consultation meetings with 1000 experts from 21 countries and attracted 165 online contributions from 70 countries.
“When we end this round of consultation in mid-March, we will revise the indicators and then move to piloting them in a number of countries around mid-year,” Berger explained.
Based on this experience, the indicators will be revised once more, for presentation to the Council of the International Programme for the Development of Communications (IPDC) in November 2018.
Support for the work of developing the indicators comes from Sweden and the Internet Society (ISOC).
On 8 February, UNESCO and the Global Initiative Network (GNI) held a forum at UNESCO HQ in Paris to examine how Internet could support electoral integrity, as well as counter threats such as disinformation and internet shutdowns which reduced the trust and knowledge of voters.
The Colloquium “Improving the information ecosystem to protect the integrity of elections” brought together UNESCO Member States, UN Representatives, national electoral authorities and media organizations with board members of the GNI.
The GNI is a multi-stakeholder organization of information and communication technology companies, civil society organizations, academics, and socially responsible investors.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Getachew Engida, UNESCO Deputy Director spoke about preserving freedom of expression and the value of effective self-regulation in regard to problems on the Internet in times of elections.
Ms. Judith Lichtenberg, Executive Director of the GNI, underlined the need to forge a common approach to protect freedom of expression online especially during elections time when ICT innovations are being abused by malicious actors and internet services are restricted or even shut down.
Participants addressed issues concerning digital manipulation of election processes, including the impact of malware attacks. Furthermore, the Colloquium also sought to assist electoral assistance providers in contributing with ideas on how to improve their electoral programs and activities.
The potential sensitivities around interruptions of digital information during vote counting, and the difficulty of monitoring the “black box” of political advertising based on datamining and targeted profiling, were highlighted by Patrick Costello, Head of Division of European External Action Service at the European Union.
Noting the varying degree of digitalization of electoral processes across countries, Simon Pierre Nanitelamio, Deputy Director of the UN’s Electoral Assistance Division, highlighted the role multi-stakeholder consultation to bridge the gaps between differently equipped countries.
In a context where economic growth depends increasingly on Internet access, as affirmed in the UN Sustainable Development Agenda, Constance Bommelaer, Senior Director of The Internet Society ISOC, pointed out that shutdowns can cause long-lasting and costly effects on societies and on user’s trust.
Large-scale internet shutdowns and the blocking and filtering of online content has been seen to be on the rise in the last five years, as noted in the latest edition of the World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development
Internet providers’ difficult position to cope with internet shutdowns during elections was highlighted by Yves Nissim, Head of Transformation and Operation in Corporate Social Responsibility from Orange. Mr He commented that companies are frequently unable to avoid demands to interrupt services because of license agreements and risks to their employees’ safety, but they sought to be transparent about receiving such demands.
Fernando Garcia, Executive director of Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales a Mexican-based network that defends digital rights and Aiste Zilinskiene, Member of the Central Electoral Commission of Lithuania, drew upon citizen digital experiences to hold political actors accountable via elections. They also raised awareness about the threats to privacy posed by malware attacks surveilling journalists and human rights activists.
Nana Gyan-Apenteng, head of Ghana’s National Media Commission and chair of the African Communications Regulation Authorities network signaled the potential to apply electoral laws to media at the point where social media content emerged onto traditional media platforms.
The UNESCO-GNI Colloquium also featured together representatives from technology companies to discuss what can be done to enhance the quality of public information during such elections in order to counter misinformation.
Steve Crown, Microsoft’s Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, pointed out the moral challenges around setting national or regional regulations given the global nature of internet and the potential for legislation to be implemented as censorship.
Ludovic Peran, Policy and Government Affairs Manager of Google, shared the company’s initiatives to address fake news, such as the development of fact-checking tools, quality guidelines and the tracking of misleading sources. Meanwhile, Andy O’Connell, Public Policy Manager of Facebook stated that his company had pledged transparency in paid political advertising.
He also noted Facebook’s work to limit the economic incentives of “fake news”, and to remove accounts with false profiles.
The importance of strengthening media and information literacy as part of voter education, was raised by. Divina Frau-Meigs, UNESCO Chair Savoir Devenir, Nouvelle Sorbonne, Paris. She said there was a need to teach young people that casting a ballot was not the same as “liking” something on social media, and encouraged “digital citizenship” as a way to boost the integrity of elections.
UNESCO hopes to follow up through highlighting the incompatibility of Internet shut-downs with the free flow of information that is needed for elections.
The Organisation will also seek to work on methodologies that can benefit election stakeholders who monitor electoral communications, to provide a knowledge base for policy on regulation and self-regulation.
Further work will entail training journalists to be able to give deeper coverage of the role of social media in relation to polls, including ways to find and rebut disinformation online.
Another follow up is promoting the value to election integrity of programmes in media and information literacy.
The over-regulation of digital electoral communications that can disproportionately limit freedom of expression and privacy, is an area where UNESCO can play a monitoring role.
A Report compiling all speaker’s interventions will be available
Find the speeches, audio recordings and more information about the event:
More about the programme: