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World's Low Oxygen: Scientists Reveal Dangers and Solutions in Broadest Study Yet

Unesco Most Programme - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 15:08
go2neselfie_monterey2017_typo_news.jpg © UNESCO

In the past 50 years, the amount of water in the open ocean with zero oxygen has gone up more than fourfold. In coastal water bodies, including estuaries and seas, low-oxygen sites have increased more than 10-fold since 1950. As the Earth warms, scientists expect oxygen levels to continue dropping in both of these zones. To halt the decline, the world needs to rein in both climate change and nutrient pollution, an international team of scientists assert in a new paper published January 5 in Science magazine.

The study comes from the Global Ocean Oxygen Network (GO2NE), a new working group created in 2016 by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), representing 21 institutions in 11 countries. The review paper is the first to take such a sweeping look at the causes, consequences and solutions to low oxygen worldwide, in both the open ocean and coastal waters. The article highlights the biggest dangers to the ocean and society, and what it will take to keep Earth’s waters healthy and productive.

The Stakes

“Approximately half of the oxygen on Earth comes from the ocean,” says Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission that formed the GO2NE group. “However, combined effects of nutrient loading and climate change are greatly increasing the number and size of ‘dead zones’ in the open ocean and coastal waters, where oxygen is too low to support most marine life.”

In areas traditionally called “dead zones,” like those in Chesapeake Bay (United States) and the Baltic Sea, oxygen plummets to levels so low many animals suffocate and die. As fish avoid these zones, their habitats shrink and they become more vulnerable to predators or fishing. But the problem goes far beyond “dead zones,” the authors point out. Even smaller oxygen declines can stunt growth in animals, hinder reproduction and lead to disease or even death. It also can trigger the release of dangerous chemicals such as nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas up to 300 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, and toxic hydrogen sulfide. While some animals can thrive in dead zones, overall biodiversity falls.

Climate change is the key culprit in the open ocean. Warming surface waters make it harder for oxygen to reach the ocean interior. Furthermore, as the ocean as a whole gets warmer, it holds less oxygen, in an unfortunate twist, animals in warmer waters need more oxygen. In coastal waters, excess nutrient pollution from land creates algal blooms, which drain oxygen as they die and decompose, even as it is disappearing.

People’s livelihoods are also on the line, the scientists reported, especially in developing nations. Smaller, artisanal fisheries may be unable to relocate when low oxygen destroys their harvests or forces fish to move elsewhere. In the Philippines, fish kills due to low oxygen in a single town’s aquaculture pens cost more than $10 million. Coral reefs, a key tourism attraction in many countries, also can waste away without enough oxygen.

Some popular fisheries could benefit, at least in the short term. Nutrient pollution can stimulate production of food for fish. In addition, when fish are forced to crowd to escape low oxygen, they can become easier to catch. But in the long run, this could result in overfishing and damage to the economy.

Winning the War: A Three-Pronged Approach

A healthy ocean is vital for the survival of the planet. It contributes to local, national and global economy with around 350 million jobs worldwide. The blue economy opens tremendous opportunities, not least for developing countries, through renewable energy, tourism, aquaculture, or biotechnology. Deoxygenation poses a threat to these many benefits humans derive from marine ecosystems.

To keep low oxygen in check, the scientists say the world needs to take on the issue from three angles:

§ Address the causes: nutrient pollution and climate change, via dramatically reducing agricultural fertilizer use and GHG emissions. While neither issue is simple or easy, the steps needed to win can benefit people as well as the environment. Better septic systems and sanitation can protect human health and keep pollution out of the water.

§ Protect vulnerable marine life and ocean resources. As the expansion of low oxygen areas seems unavoidable in some places, it is crucial to protect at-risk fisheries from further stress. According to the GO2NE team, this could mean creating marine protected areas or no-catch zones in areas animals use to escape low oxygen, or switching to fish that are not as threatened by falling oxygen levels.

§ Improve low-oxygen tracking worldwide. Scientists have a decent grasp of how much oxygen the ocean could lose in the future, but they do not know exactly where those low-oxygen zones will be. Enhanced monitoring especially in the southern hemisphere, experimental work to improve the understanding of processes causing and impacted by deoxygenation, as well as the development of advanced, and numerical models will help pinpoint which places are most at risk and determine the most effective solutions.

The findings presented in this article and the many related activities to this international endeavor will contribute to the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. Advancing our knowledge about the threat of ocean deoxygenation, warming, acidification, as well as numerous other human caused stressors will be key to ensure a sustainable management of our common good – the ocean.

“This is a problem we can solve,” said Denise Breitburg, lead author and marine ecologist with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. “Halting climate change requires a global effort, but even local actions can help with nutrient-driven oxygen decline.” As proof, Breitburg points to the ongoing recovery of Chesapeake Bay, where nitrogen pollution has dropped 24 percent since its peak thanks to better sewage treatment, better farming practices and successful laws like the Clean Air Act. While some low-oxygen zones persist, the area of the Chesapeake with zero oxygen has almost disappeared. “Tackling climate change may seem more daunting,” she added, “but doing it is critical for stemming the decline of oxygen in our oceans, and for nearly every aspect of life on our planet.”

Kirsten Isensee, Programme Specialist at IOC-UNESCO, highlighted that “Ocean Deoxygenation – is taking place all over the world, as a result of the human footprint, therefore we also need to address it globally. And I am positive that the international effort GO2NE can help at the local, regional and global level to better adapt and to hopefully reduce the impact and extent of low oxygen areas in the ocean.”


The Global Ocean Oxygen Network (GO2NE) is a scientific working group organized by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, part of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Established in 2016, its scientists from around the world are committed to providing a global and multidisciplinary view of deoxygenation, advising policymakers on countering low oxygen and preserving marine resources.

For more information, please contact:

Kirsten Isensee (k.isensee(at)

Programme Specialist at the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC-UNESCO)

Categories: News

Marginalised girls and young women in Nepal realise their right to education

Unesco Most Programme - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 11:10
marginalised_girls_and_young_women_in_nepal_realise_their_right_to_education-c-shreekot_clc.jpg © Shreekot CLC 04 January 2018

Bhawana Bhatta became a mother at the tender age of 14 after her family married her off when she was in grade 8. Although the minimum age of marriage under Nepali law is 20 years of age, UNICEF estimates that one in 10 girls are married before the age of 15. When girls like Bhawana are forced to marry, they often drop out of school, and many will never again set foot in a classroom.

Fortunately, this was not the case for Bhawana.

Two years ago, Bhawana enrolled in training courses offered at the local Community Learning Center (CLC) in Baitadi. Encouraged by her facilitators, and realising the importance and the power of lifelong learning, Bhawana decided to go back to school. Today, she is proud to have overcome the constraints of her past and aspires to become a lawyer fighting for women’s rights and equality.

UNESCO believes in the power of education to achieve gender equality and to empower adolescent girls and young women. Through targetted interventions supported by the UNESCO Malala Fund for Girls’ Right to Education, Nepalese girls and women like Bhawana have access to formal and non-formal education programmes that build knowledge and skills on sexual and reproductive health, income generation, and how to stand up for their rights in their communities and to elevate their status in society.

UNESCO has implemented eight series of three-day trainings, empowering 236 young women with understanding and life-skills related to menstruation, family planning, safe motherhood, immunization, and nutrition. An independent evaluation of the project reveals how these initiatives are changing lives. “Initially, I was ignorant about my health; but through the training, I learned about various things impacting a healthy life. This knowledge not only improved my and my family’s behaviours, but also opened our minds to discuss sexual problems and not to hide them. I want to continue my education and I and my husband, together, have decided not to have another child”, says Bhawana.

The UNESCO Office in Kathmandu will continue to engage in nationwide efforts to improve the relevancy and quality of education for adolescent girls and young women through both formal and non-formal education and in partnership with CLCs and other local stakeholders.

Categories: News

Romanian youth learn how to fundraise and shape a sustainable future

Unesco Most Programme - Thu, 01/04/2018 - 09:53
romania_youth_bank-c-youthbank_romania-news.jpg © YouthBank Romania 04 January 2018

At YouthBank Romania, young people take all the crucial decisions about how to raise funds and which sustainable development projects to back.

The programme, an offshoot of the International YouthBank, a youth-led grant-making organization, has been running for twelve years in Romania and its success can be seen by the fact students have now become leaders themselves within the programme.

One such ex-student is Programme Manager Alexandra Soare who explains how the programme works within the particular context of Romania and describes how the organization is now poised to take a new step forward.

YouthBank Romania is a non-formal education programme coordinated by the young for the young and is formed of groups of up to 20 students who meet to fund raise and choose sustainable development projects to receive the money.

Once they are signed up, the young people have training sessions on fundraising, communications and grant-making. They gain hands-on experience with real money and responsibility. Projects chosen to receive funds are as diverse as group clean-ups of a neighbourhood to sponsoring a student with cancer through treatment.

“We target a wide range of people, urban and rural, wealthy and not which means students get to interact with people they might not have come into contact with otherwise,” said Alexandra.

Diversity is built into the programme so that, for example, often excluded communities like the Roma and the Hungarian minority are actively integrated.

‘Gamifying’ the experience

“The biggest challenge we face is gaining people’s trust in a country where the NGO and Sustainable Development culture is still growing. Then we have to keep teenagers interested in the programme over the long-term. It is not that easy to convince a 16-year-old that they can raise, say, 400 euros and then at the end of the year they may see an impact. They have grown up with technology and instant results so we are trying to ‘gameify’ the process by giving small regular incentives and updates,” said Alexandra.

Another bigger challenge is to keep youth and their experiences from leaving Romania, which faces many social problems, once they are adult.

Despite all that, YouthBank has chalked up some major successes.

“Some kids wanted to mount a festival in their school yard, something that had never been done before. The idea was to fund raise to buy equipment for children in rural areas. We are now on our 8th festival proving that it is a truly sustainable idea and has become a tradition. Each year they fund raise for a different cause. This year they came up with the idea to create fools for blind people who may be visiting so that they can ‘see’ different tourist sites in braille. So there is real innovation.”

The next step is to expand. Currently the programme is running in 10 communities in Romania. The plan is to expand the network to new cities and by 2020 have 20 YouthBanks up and running around the country.

Since its implementation at a national level there have been more than one thousand YouthBank members (main beneficiaries), around 3,000grantees (secondary beneficiaries) and nearly 400,000 direct and indirect beneficiaries of implemented projects.

“We would also like to shift the emphasis from purely events-based fundraising to social entrepreneurship which will be of benefit career-wise to participants, to raise the quality of the projects themselves and increase the capacity of the trainers,” said Alexandra.

The last word goes to Diana Gherghelejiu, a member of YouthBank Sibiu.

“After 3 years as a YouthBank member I can strongly say that this programme is an extraordinary experience for every teenager that wants to do more than homework during high school years.

“The phenomena through which a group of people becomes your family, a family with a common goal, feels incredible and I do not know what I’m going to miss the most: the brainstorming sessions, the interviews or the meetings. What is clear is that there’s nothing more complex, educational, interactive and fun than being a YouthBank member.”

Categories: News

World Press Freedom Day 2018 Conference: Call for Papers

Unesco Most Programme - Wed, 01/03/2018 - 11:58
2016_10somali_press_7_688x358.jpg © Tobin Jones 03 January 2018Theme: Safety of Journalists Important Date:
  • Deadline for abstracts: 15 February, 2018


On a daily basis, journalists around the globe are confronted with a variety of threats that range from harassment to arbitrary detention, kidnapping, physical attacks, and in the most extreme cases, killing. UNESCO reports that in the past decade more than 800 journalists, media workers and social media reporters have been killed. Threats occur both online and offline, and women journalists are particularly affected by gender-specific forms of attacks such as sexual harassment and violence. As part of the global celebration of World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) 2018, the School of Information and Communication Studies, University of Ghana, in collaboration with UNESCO, is organising a one-day academic conference on the Safety of Journalists.

This is the third edition of this conference, which is held annually as a special session alongside WPFD. It brings together researchers from different disciplines working on aspects of the safety of journalists, and offers a possibility to connect with policy makers and media practitioners. At the first edition of the conference, which took place in 2016 in Helsinki, Finland, the Journalism Safety Research Network (JSRN) was launched. The network aims at creating a space where multidisciplinary research on the safety of journalists is shared, developed and promoted in order to strengthen the field of research and ultimately, contribute to safer environments for journalists.

The academic conference, which will be integrated into the celebrations of World Press Freedom Day in Accra, aims at bridging the gap between academic research, policy-making and the experience of journalists on the ground. Policy-oriented research, which can nourish a dialogue between all stakeholders, is therefore highly encouraged. The theme of World Press Freedom Day 2018 is “Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and the Rule of Law”.

This year’s edition welcomes papers and policy relevant research on all aspects of safety of journalists, impunity for crimes against journalists, safety of journalists and governance and justice.

Topics that are especially encouraged for the Academic Conference 2018 are:
  • Systemic failure in rule of law; and impunity for crimes against journalists
  • National mechanisms and their effectiveness for the prevention of violence against journalists, protection of journalists, and monitoring and prosecution of attacks.
  • Gender-based threats and sexual harassment in the media
  • Motivation for attacks against journalists and types of perpetrators
  • Digital aspects of journalists’ safety
  • Safety of journalists covering sensitive cultural issues (e.g. ethnic contestation, chieftaincy, LGBTQI)
  • Photo/video journalism and safety 
  • Working conditions and the protection of journalists

Please also find a comprehensive list of potential research topics in UNESCO’s Research Agenda on Journalists’ Safety.

In addition to the presentation of papers and following discussions, the conference will for the first time accommodate a Policy Lab, organized in partnership with the Global Development Network. This special session will be organized on the morning of 4 May, 2018 and will offer a unique opportunity for high-quality interactions between researchers and policy actors (broadly understood) who work on a same issue. The topic chosen for this first Policy Lab are national mechanisms for prevention, protection against and prosecution of violence against journalists: emerging models and their effectiveness.

The logic of the policy lab is double: to offer researchers an opportunity to engage with potential users of their research, exposing researchers to the kind of answers policy actors need at a time when research questions are still being defined; and to include policy actors in the process of discussion and definition of research priorities, sensitizing them to the potential contribution of research to their work. Policy Labs have therefore two main outcomes: research agendas of direct interest to policy constituencies on a specific issue; and the creation of an early demand for research findings amongst potential users in policy and practice.

A closed number of participants will be selected on a competitive basis to take part in the Policy Lab, by UNESCO, the Global Development Network and the University of Ghana, based on the relevance of their research and planned work to the above-mentioned topic. More information will be available about the Policy Lab in the coming weeks.

Submission for Conference:

Please submit abstracts of a maximum 300 words by 15 February, 2018 to the following email: or, Cc. Invitations to attend will be issued by 4 March, 2018. The deadline for full paper submissions is 18 April, 2018.

Submission for Policy Lab:

Please submit a short synopsis of research on a relevant topic related to protection of journalists you are currently developing and which could benefit from feedback from policy makers by 15 February, 2018 to: or, Cc. Invitations to attend will be issued by 4 March, 2018.

Based on the availability of funds, a limited number of partial/full sponsorship may be available for covering flights and hotel accommodation, with priority given to academics based in the Global South. Meals will be provided for all participants and no registration fee will be charged. UNESCO and the University will investigate publication opportunities for the best papers presented at the Conference.

Categories: News

Declaration by UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay on the withdrawal of Israel from the Organization

Unesco Most Programme - Fri, 12/29/2017 - 18:38
dg_azoulay.png La Directrice générale de l'UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay© UNESCO/C. ALIX 29 December 2017

In my capacity as Director-General of UNESCO, I was officially notified today by the Israeli Government of Israel’s withdrawal from the Organization effective on 31 December 2018, a decision which was announced on 12 October 2017.

I regret this deeply, as it is my conviction that it is inside UNESCO and not outside it that States can best seek to overcome differences in the Organization’s fields of competence.

A Member of UNESCO since 1949, Israel has a rightful place inside the United Nations agency that is dedicated to education, culture and science. Inside an institution committed to the defence of freedom of expression, the prevention of all forms of antisemitism and racism, which has developed a unique programme of education about the Holocaust and the prevention of genocide. Inside an institution that is among the most active in promoting dialogue among cultures, fighting violent extremism and conserving heritage affected, notably, by the destructive acts of terrorist organizations.

In the face of disagreements among Member States, which lead to votes for which they are responsible, engaging fully in the work of UNESCO makes possible sustained dialogue, cooperation and partnerships that are more necessary than ever and that I committed to support when I took office.

Facts and figures concerning the cooperation between Israel and UNESCO:

Israel has been a member of UNESCO since 16 September 1949 when it also established a National Commission for UNESCO.

Renowned Israeli personalities are associated to UNESCO: Ivry Gitlis as Goodwill Ambassador, sculptor Dani Karavan as Artist for Peace, and Professor Ada Yonath received the UNESCO-L’Oréal For Women in Science Prize in 2008, one year before she won a Nobel Prize.

Israel has ratified 18 UNESCO International Conventions and has nine cultural sites on the World Heritage List :

·       Masada (2001)

·       Old City of Acre (2001)

·       White City of Tel-Aviv -- the Modern Movement (2003)

·       Biblical Tels - Megiddo, Hazor, Beer Sheba (2005)

·       Incense Route - Desert Cities in the Negev (2005)

·       Bahá’i Holy Places in Haifa and the Western Galilee (2008)

·       Sites of Human Evolution at Mount Carmel: The Nahal Me’arot / Wadi el-Mughara Caves (2012)

·       Caves of Maresha and Bet-Guvrin in the Judean Lowlands as a Microcosm of the Land of the Caves (2014)

·       Necropolis of Bet She’arim: A Landmark of Jewish Renewal (2015)


Mount Carmel (1996) and Megiddo (2011) are members of UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

In 2014, Tel Aviv - Yafo joined UNESCO’s Network of Creative Cities for Media Arts.

Israeli universities host 12 UNESCO Chairs and one UNESCO Centre.

Twenty-five Israeli schools are members of the Associated Schools Network

Categories: News

Improving Secondary Education in Malawi (ISEM)

Europaid - Wed, 12/27/2017 - 14:29
Categories: News

Green economy initiatives reconcile people and nature in Ghana

Unesco Most Programme - Fri, 12/22/2017 - 18:11
focus_bia_green_eco.jpg © UNESCO 22 December 2017

The people living in and near the Bia Biosphere Reserve, in Ghana, are highly dependent on what the forest can provide for their livelihoods. They are mainly cocoa farmers, and used to harvest wild honey, mushrooms and other non-timber forest products during the lean season to supplement their income. This practice, combined with the population growth in the area, put a strain on the biosphere reserve and led to an alarming rate of depletion. UNESCO and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) worked with the local community to implement green economy initiatives in the biosphere reserve in order to provide income alternatives while reducing the local population’s overreliance on forest resources. The ultimate goal is to improve local communities’ socio-economic status while conserving biodiversity.

The project “Green Economy in Biosphere Reserves (GEBR): A means to biodiversity conservation, poverty reduction and sustainable development in sub-Saharan Africa was implemented in three Biosphere Reserves: Bia (Ghana), Omo (Nigeria) and East Usambara (Tanzania). It was launched in Ghana in September 2013, with extensive consultations with the local population, to identify feasible and preferred livelihood options. The activities identified were: mushroom production, bee-keeping, snail rearing and palm oil production. In all, 235 direct beneficiaries, including 91 women, were supported and trained to undertake these green alternatives. In order to ensure sustainability of their livelihoods, they were also trained in bookkeeping, marketing and packaging and on how to invest profits back into their businesses.

Apart from the training, beneficiaries were given start-up equipment such as beehives, protective clothing for harvesting honey, snail-pens and mushroom cropping houses. Palm fruit processing centres were built in two communities near the Bia Biosphere Reserve, Elluokrom and Essuopri. These are the communities with the highest number of persons – most of them women – who depend on palm oil production for their livelihoods. “The palm oil processing machines has made my work more efficient” explains Nana Abena Ataah. “I’m now able to extract more volumes of palm oil which I sell to obtain a good income.” To show their commitments to the project and demonstrate ownership, the chiefs of Elluokrom and Essuopri donated the plots of lands for the palm fruit processing centres.

In addition, a mushroom incubator house was constructed at the Bia Biosphere Reserve headquarters in Kunkumso to ensure the sustainability of the production and a supply of inoculated mushroom substrates to the beneficiaries. “Before the introduction of the project, cocoa faming was my only source of income” says Georgina Kyeremaah. “I therefore had financial difficulties during the cocoa farming off-seasons. Since taking up the mushroom production livelihood, I now produce and sell mushroom to augment my income during the farming off-seasons.” 

The project has had a positive impact on the socio-economic status of the beneficiaries who were able to diversify form cocoa farming without depleting the local natural resources. The local communities have also become more aware of the importance of biodiversity and hence of the biosphere reserve to their own existence. Mr. Richard Boakye, Assistant Bia Biosphere Reserve Manager and Community Relations Officer observed: “Since 2013, we do not have a record of any beneficiary entering the core/conservation area to extract any resource, whether wildlife or forest resources. So clearly, the project is helping to preserve the biosphere reserve.”

This project is one example of the many ways biosphere reserves promote solutions reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use around the world.


Categories: News

UNESCO and Armenia commit to strengthening cooperation

Unesco Most Programme - Fri, 12/22/2017 - 15:26
dg-aa-mofa-armenia.jpg © UNESCO/Christelle ALIX 22 December 2017

UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia and President of the National Commission for UNESCO, Mr Edward Nalbandian, at UNESCO Headquarters on 21 December.

On this occasion, the Minister reiterated his country's support for UNESCO's programmes and his Government’s readiness to further strengthen cooperation with UNESCO in all areas of its competence - in the field of culture, particularly the implementation of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005), as well as in the fields of youth empowerment, women's empowerment, and adaptation to climate change.

The Minister also invited UNESCO to take an active part in the XVII Summit of La Francophonie, which Yerevan will host in October 2018, and which will be on the theme of "Living together in La Francophonie".

The Director-General thanked the Minister for his country's commitment to UNESCO. She congratulated Armenia for having been chosen to host the next Francophonie Summit, whose theme is at the heart of UNESCO's mission, and she confirmed the Organization's willingness to contribute actively to this important event through joint activities.

The Director-General and the Minister also underlined the key role of HE Mr Charles Aznavour, as Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of Armenia to UNESCO, in strengthening cooperation and their wish to develop new joint activities, which will benefit from his experience and international reputation.

Categories: News

Director-General denounces murder of journalist Gumaro Pérez Aguilando in Mexico

Unesco Most Programme - Fri, 12/22/2017 - 14:53
22 December 2017

The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay today condemned the brutal killing of Gumaro Pérez Aguilando, who was shot while attending a Christmas party at his son’s school in the northern Mexican state of Veracruz, on 19 December.

“I condemn the assassination of Gumaro Pérez Aguilando,” the Director-General declared. “I urge the authorities to bring the perpetrators of this crime to trial.”

In the spirit of Article 1 of the Constitution of UNESCO, the Organization’s Director-General issues statements on violations of press freedoms, condemning the killing of media workers, in line with its action to take forward the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

These statements are posted on a dedicated webpage, UNESCO condemns the killing of journalists.


Media contact: Sylvie Coudray,, +33 (0)1 45 68 42 12

UNESCO is the United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to “further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.” To realize this the Organization is requested to “collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image…”



Categories: News

UNESCO and SWAN advocate for a Gender and Media Protocol in South Asia

Unesco Most Programme - Fri, 12/22/2017 - 14:26

The Gender Development Index (GDI), which captures gender inequalities in human development, reveals a gap in South Asia that is larger than that of any other region.

© Asia Pacific Human Development Report 2016 20 December 2017“There is no way back on this matter now”.

These were the words of Prof. Veena Sikri, the convenor and founding member of South Asia Womens Network (SWAN) after the inaugural ceremony of the organization’s 9th Annual General Meeting, which took place in Kathmandu, Nepal on 19-21 November 2017. The Annual General Meeting was accompanied with a special session involving the SWAN Gender and Media Group who presented secondary researches on gender and media from nine countries in in South Asia.

Prof. Sikri’s comments came after the inaugural address by H. E. Mr Amiad Hussain B. Sial, the Secretary General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). During his speech, the Secretary General expressed his organization’s support for the promotion of Gender and Media in the SAARC region. He also acknowledged the excellent work done by SWAN and UNESCO in promoting gender equality.

Through the project “Building a Gendered Media for South Asia”, SWAN and UNESCO field offices in Asia (New Delhi, Bangkok, Dhaka, Islamabad, Kabul, Kathmandu and Myanmar) are engaged in the application of the UNESCO Gender Sensitive Media Guidelines for the media in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and  Sri Lanka. The main objective of the project is to contribute to the development of a peaceful and gender transformative media environment in South Asia in order to address the vulnerability of women and alleviate gender inequalities in South Asia.


H. E. Mr. Amiad Hussain B. Sial (SAARC S.G), Prof Veena Sikri (Convenor of SWAN) and Mr. Manhart Christian (Director of UNESCO office in Nepal) were among the dignitaries who participated during the inaugural ceremony © UNESCO

Understanding the potential and role of the media in tackling gender inequality, the UNESCO and SWAN project has involved media stakeholders in South Asia to develop inclusive Gender Sensitive Media Guidelines. The guidelines have been validated in seven out of the nine countries through national consultations. Following the development of the guidelines, baseline surveys are being undertaken to assess the status of gender and media in the region, therefore, providing a basis for monitoring and evaluation.

Thanks to the generous support of the Government of Netherlands through the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), funds have been secured for conducting primary researches in four out of the nine countries in South Asia earmarked for the surveys.

In consultations with member states, UNESCO and SWAN are advocating for a holistic system for continuous monitoring and reporting on the status of gender-sensitive practices in the media in South Asia. The monitoring and reporting will include biennial regional status reports for South Asia, followed up with appropriate ameliorating interventions in collaboration with UNESCO member states and media stakeholders.

Media stakeholders are also being engaged in the strengthening of SWAN as a regional platform for promoting gender and media. The strengthening of SWAN will also involve institutional capacity development activities of its media partners in coordinating the application of UNESCO Gender Sensitive Indicators for Media (GSIM) and enhancing the safety of women journalists in South Asia.

The impact of the project is well summarised by Dr. Mariyam Shakeela, the Former Minister of Health and Gender of Maldives and a member of SWAN.

“The actions emanating from the UNESCO and SWAN project are paving way for a Gender and Media Protocol and its associated media barometer. With the two in place we will have the best mechanisms in South Asia to ensure a gender responsive media,” she said.


For more information about this project, please contact

Categories: News

The Dominican Republic welcomes first-ever most comprehensive report on media development

Unesco Most Programme - Fri, 12/22/2017 - 12:49
mdi_dominicarep.jpg © UNESCO 02 November 2017The Colegio Dominicano de Periodistas (College of Dominican Journalists- CDP by its acronym in Spanish) has just launched the  most-comprehensive report on media development in the country.

The report, Análisis del Desarrollo Mediático en República Dominicana (Assessment of Media Development in the Dominican Republic), is the result of a study conducted using UNESCO’s Media Development Indicators (MDIs), a flagship initiative of the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC). It examines the current media environment in five main areas: legal and regulatory framework; pluralism and diversity; the role of the media as a platform for democratic discourse; professional training and technical infrastructure to support independent and pluralistic media.

During the recent launch of the report at the Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra de Santo Domingo on 31 October 2017, the coordinator of the research team, Adalberto Grullón, underscored the usefulness of the report as a reference document for decision-making on the implementation of media development programmes in the country. Authorities of the Dominican College of Journalists and the Ministry of Education, journalists, legislators, members of UNESCO and the UN country team, as well students, attended the event.

Katherine Muller-Marin, Director of the Regional Office of Culture for Latin America and the Caribbean of UNESCO, said the study was developed between 2013 and 2015 by a team of academics, journalists and representatives of professional associations in the country. It brought views of hundreds of people on a crucial issue for democracy and sustainable development, which were gathered through two national surveys, discussion groups with journalists and representatives of civil society organizations, and interviews with experts and government officials, among other actors. In addition, the study included an extensive literature review on the regulatory framework for communication and information in the country.

Serving as guidance for policy makers, the media, civil society organizations, and academia, the study also offers a series of recommendations to address challenges towards a free and independent media environment.

UNESCO’s MDIs were developed and endorsed by the Intergovernmental Council of IPDC in 2008. Since the endorsement, they have become one of IPDC’s flagship initiatives and have been applied in 20 countries, while assessments are underway in many more. 

The MDI assessment for the Dominican Republic is available for download here.
Read the press release in Spanish.

Categories: News

World Arabic Language Day 2017: focus on new technologies

Unesco Most Programme - Fri, 12/22/2017 - 10:30
infocus_wald_2017.jpg © UNESCO / Nora Houguenade 22 December 2017

In collaboration with the Permanent Delegation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and within the context of the partnership with the Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud Foundation, UNESCO organized, on 18 December at its Headquarters in Paris, a two-day event to mark the celebration of World Arabic language Day.

The events acknowledged the Arabic language’s immense contribution to science and culture, including philosophy and the arts. With more than 290 million native speakers, and millions of others gaining some level of fluency, it is one of the five most spoken languages in the world.

In her opening statement, Ms Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, emphasized the linguistic role in intercultural dialogue and achieving peace. “Languages both reflect and shape the social identities and the values of communities, there can’t be lasting peace without cultural diversity, and there is no diversity without linguistic diversity,” said the Director-General.

The theme for World Arabic Language Day 2017, 'The Arabic Language and New Technologies', was an open invitation to the participants and decision makers to reflect on best practices to promote the Arabic language in the digital world and the technology platforms.

A two-day roundtable featured ministers, key linguistic experts and heads of academic institutions. Major challenges facing the Arabic language nowadays were discussed.  In particular, the need to keep pace with technology both for dissemination of Arabic and adopting new teaching methods. Other challenges identified included involving the younger generations in efforts made to save the authenticity of classical Arabic and the need for coordination between the educational institutions across the Arabic World.

The two-day event was concluded with an Oriental Jazz concert by Naseer Shamma, renowned Iraqi composer, oud virtuoso and UNESCO Artist for Peace, at UNESCO Headquarters, to promote interreligious dialogue and peace. He was accompanied by Amine Bouhafa (Piano), Jorge Bezeera (Percussion), and Ali Shaker (Zither).

Categories: News

A New Chair to Prevent Radicalisation and Violent Extremism

Unesco Most Programme - Thu, 12/21/2017 - 16:52
preventionviolentextremism.jpg © UNESCO 21 December 2017

UNESCO, in cooperation with the University of Sherbrooke, University of Quebec in Montreal and Concordia University, has launched a new Chair on the Prevention of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism on 15 December 2017.

This UNESCO Chair, hosted by the University of Sherbrooke in Montreal (Canada), will promote an integrated system of research, education, information, and documentary activities with the involvement of high-level researchers, teachers, and experts from all regions of the world.

Particular attention will be paid to providing knowledge and facilitating exchange of good practices to prevent radicalisation and violent extremism, with a multidisciplinary and cross-regional approach.

Capacity-reinforcement actions will notably target initiatives aimed at fostering youth participation and engagement, as well as knowledge-sharing initiatives in cooperation with schools, communities and media.

The creation of this UNESCO Chair is a step further in the implementation of UNESCO Executive Board Decision 197 EX/Decision 46: “UNESCO’s role in promoting education as a tool to prevent violent extremism” and the achievement of Target 4.7 of the Sustainable Development Goal 4 on Education, ensuring that “all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development”.

UNESCO supports countries’ efforts to offer education programmes that build young people’s resilience to violent extremist messaging and foster a positive sense of identity and belonging. Young men and women empowerment is made possible through a coordinated approach on the Prevention of Violent Extremism involving all sectors of the Organization, in areas such as global citizenship education, youth participation, media and information literacy, and celebration of cultural diversity.


Categories: News

Reforming UNESCO's action on Memory of the World

Unesco Most Programme - Thu, 12/21/2017 - 15:59
lorsch-pharmacopoeia.jpg © The Bamberg State Library 21 December 2017

The goal of the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme is to protect and share the documentary heritage of humanity, guided by the vision that it should be preserved and accessible for all.

In October 2017, UNESCO's Executive Board reaffirmed this mission, underlining “the importance of documentary heritage to promote the sharing of knowledge for greater understanding and dialogue, in order to promote peace and respect for freedom, democracy, human rights and dignity.” This echoed the goals endorsed by Member States in the 2015 Recommendation concerning the Preservation, and Access to, Documentary Heritage, including in Digital Form.

In the face of new needs, including transparency and the renewed engagement of Member States in the spirit of dialogue, the Programme’s International Advisory Committee (IAC) submitted a report resulting from a review of UNESCO’s work, including recommendations, to the UNESCO Executive Board in October 2017.

Member States took note of the Report with appreciation, and requested the Director-General, in cooperation with Member States and building on the work of the IAC, to engage in a comprehensive review of the Memory of the World Programme, in the broader context of the 2015 Recommendation. The Executive Board invited the Director-General, the IAC and all stakeholders of the Programme to abide by the principles of dialogue, mutual understanding and respect.

In order to create appropriate conditions for a positive dialogue on the future of the programme, the next nomination cycle for the Memory of the World International Register will not be opened in parallel. At the same time, this will not affect the wider work of the Programme, including on support to access and the preservation of documentary heritage.

Furthermore, the Director-General has decided to invite new experts to join the IAC, as pursuant to the Statutes and Rules: Ms Maria de la Luz Rodriguez Olivares (Spain), Ms Irena Kriviene (Lithuania), Ms Catherine Alice Bloch Gerschel (Mexico), Ms Rita Tjien Fooh (Surinam), Mr Ramesch Chandra Gaur (India), Ms Dina Youssef (Egypt), and Mr Jamaâ Baida (Morocco).

The Director-General will present an action plan on a comprehensive review at the next session of the Executive Board in April.

Categories: News

UNESCO survey provides in-depth analysis of press councils' financial sustainability

Unesco Most Programme - Thu, 12/21/2017 - 12:11
news_211217_aipce.jpg Participants of the Annual meeting of Independent Press Councils in Europe, Budapest, Hungary, October 2017.© UNESCO 21 December 2017UNESCO presented the results of an in-depth survey about the financing mechanisms of press and media councils at the annual conference of the Alliance of Independent Press Councils in Europe (AIPCE), which took place in Budapest in October 2017. Media councils act as media self-regulation mechanisms, a system set up in order to ensure respect for media professional and ethical journalistic standards. 

“The funding systems of press and media councils says a lot about how these bodies function and how they view the question of their independence. Such analysis was also much needed to discuss the sustainability of media self-regulation mechanisms,” said Adeline Hulin, UNESCO Project Officer at the conference in Budapest.

This survey was undertook within the framework of the UNESCO EU funded project "Building Trust in Media in South East Europe and Turkey" which contributes to strengthening the functioning and visibility of press and media councils in this region. The project provides direct funding to media self-regulation mechanisms together with some support for them to adapt to new digital challenges and enhance their outreach towards media readers and viewers. This has proven very successful. Press councils in South East Europe are increasingly used by citizens, have amended some of their statutes and guidelines to adapt the digital world, or have seen an increase in the number of media adhering voluntarily to the system of media self-regulation. 

The survey aims at highlighting best practices to guarantee the financial independence and sustainability of press and media councils. This remains a major concern for self-regulatory bodies in South East Europe. But not only. As the economic crisis and the drop in advertising revenues severely hits media revenues around the world, the budget of many media councils has severely been impacted. A session of the AIPCE annual meeting was hence dedicated to this sensitive issue. 

Results of the survey (available in the attached article), show that few mechanisms are in place to guarantee the financial sustainability of press councils in Europe and elsewhere, even the ones in place for decades. Most of these bodies rely on the good will of their members or even sometime apply yearly to receive some indirect state subsidies. While the need for media self-regulation and media ethics has never been so high in a context of shrinking trust in media, many press councils are faced with founders unable to enhance their contributions. 

The survey highlights that examples of tangible mechanisms guaranteeing either the independence or the sustainability of press and media councils should be searched in statutory media self-regulatory systems where the State acknowledges and or supports this system. However, such a statutory media self-regulation system bears some risks in certain political context, as it might hamper media freedom in the long end.

Categories: News

Supporting networks of mediterranean youth is vital

Unesco Most Programme - Thu, 12/21/2017 - 11:53
netmedyouth_2017_typo.jpg © UNESCO

With over 4.000 young women and men trained, 150 active members in 9 countries, 7 national youth policies revised or implemented, 12 studies on youth needs and aspiration produced, and a lot of exchange and networking experiences takin place across the Mediterranean, 2017 wraps up on a high note for UNESCO’s Networks of Mediterranean Youth (NET-MED Youth) Project !

“Supporting youth in the Southern Mediterranean region is vital,” says Nada Al-Nashif, Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences at UNESCO. “Today’s youth are transforming their societies. We must harness their energies, capacities and ideas as partners for a common future built on peace, social justice and human rights.”

Since its launch in February 2014, NET-MED Youth has trained over 4,000 young people in policy analysis, dialogue, strategic planning, advocacy, media, freedom of expression, communication, labor market policies and much more. The young members of the project make up today a strong regional network, with remarkable connections to its northern Mediterranean neighbors.

“NET-MED Youth is not just a project, it is a vision and a network that UNESCO has put in place for young people to become active players in change and development processes in their countries,” says Souria Saad-Zoy, Project Manager and Youth Programme Specialist at UNESCO. “The young people and youth organizations we have been partnering with inspire us to continue to strengthen a solid platform for youth to be leaders and actors of innovation.”

Several key initiatives and achievements illustrate the uniqueness of NET-MED Youth, one of UNESCO’s flagship European Union-funded projects.

In Tunisia, a pilot digital platform Jeun’Experts (young experts) puts a 100 active young people in the spotlight, with expertise in the fields of economics, politics, social and cultural dynamics, and media. The platform promotes their participation in public debate and a plural, fair and objective treatment of youth issues in the media and in the public sphere. In Lebanon, an online database was created by young people to highlight young professionals and experts. NET-MED Youth has also positioned youth from different countries in the region as opinion leaders on key youth-related issues such as on cultural heritage protection, the SDGs and the Youth, Peace and Security Agenda.

At the level of public policies, young project members and coordinators have invested a lot of effort in the development and revision of national youth strategies in different countries. The first national youth policy was launched in Palestine after a series of trainings and consultations with youth. Young members from Morocco revised their national youth strategy and are currently working on adapting it to a pilot locality. Young Tunisians are in the phase of implementing their own national strategy. Jordanian youth are building a new one. And youth in Israel and Lebanon have built a large body of research and knowledge that will allow them to move on to the next stages.

On the media front, NET-MED Youth members have led over 50 outreach actions that connected them to more than 100 national media outlets. These outreach and advocacy campaigns are one of the many results of trainings and regional and international learning opportunities for youth to ensure a better representation of their issues in mainstream media. Young members of NET-MED Youth are now trained in media monitoring, research and methodologies, advocacy, campaigning, media production and much more, to be the leaders and creators of inclusive and youth-friendly media content.

The issue of youth unemployment has always been present in all of NET-MED Youth’s work. Both young people and national experts and institutions in the project’s beneficiary countries have learned a lot from capacity-building sessions about employment policy design. The first sets of skills projections on youth future skills needs are now produced in several countries.

NET-MED Youth is more than the above-mentioned initiatives. It is a mass of young people, whose every-day lives are boosted by civic engagement, learning and making an impact. These young people, members of the project and other actors of civil society, are today’s superheroes. NET-MED Youth has succeeded in rallying young people beyond its initial working groups to develop their communities, to speak out, to be part of change, and to build tomorrow today.

The project will continue until March 2018, laying the ground for a potential second phase, with the same energy and passion, and with an openness to further build relationships around the Mediterranean basin countries – north and south – and engage more youth around common actions for a more inclusive and a more sustainable future for all.

Categories: News

Director-General urges investigation into killing of journalist Mohamed Ibrahim Gabow in Somalia

Unesco Most Programme - Thu, 12/21/2017 - 11:09
21 December 2017

Audrey Azoulay, the Director-General of UNESCO, today condemned the killing of television presenter Mohamed Ibrahim Gabow in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, on 11 December.

“I condemn the killing of Mohamed Ibrahim Gabow,” said the Director-General. “I call on the Somali authorities to spare no effort in bringing to trial those responsible for this attack on the human rights of freedom of expression and freedom of information.”

Gabow, a Mogadishu-based news presenter for Kalsan TV, died in the explosion of a device planted in a car.

In the spirit of Article 1 of the Constitution of UNESCO, the Director-General of the Organization issues statements on violations of press freedoms, condemning the killing of media workers, in line with its action to take forward the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

These statements are posted on a dedicated webpage, UNESCO condemns the killing of journalists.


Media contact: Sylvie Coudray,, +33 (0)1 45 68 42 12

UNESCO is the United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to “further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.” To realize this the Organization is requested to “collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image…”




Categories: News