A global media forum on August 28 adopted a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) initiated Roadmap, which recommends principles and actions to be considered in charting the future direction of media in the context of sustainable development.
The document, titled: “Bali Road Map: The Roles of the Media in Realizing the Future We Want for All”, was adopted at the closing session of a three-day international forum jointly hosted by UNESCO and the Indonesian Ministry of Communication and Information Technologies. The meeting which was held in Bali, Indonesia, from August 26 to 28, 2014, was convened to contribute to the ongoing international debate about the importance of media and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for peace and sustainable development.
The roadmap emphasizes the “importance of including a goal on freedom of expression and independent media in the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals and of including this recognition in development practice more broadly.”
UNESCO’s Director for Freedom of Expression and Media Development, Prof. Guy Berger, explained that although the roadmap is not a binding document, it can be used by all as a reference to possible directions in promoting the role of the media in future development goals.
He said: “The map reflects the agenda of our deliberations and points forward for progress.”
The road map recommends actions to key stakeholders, namely governments, media outlets, media professionals, users, UNESCO and the international community.
It calls on governments to review legal restrictions including criminal defamation laws on media content or structures; systematically collect and make accessible to the public, information related to development while protecting privacy, and make concerted efforts to ensure that those involved in production of journalism can work without fear or risk of attack.
The document also urged media outlets and professionals to promote respect for the highest professional and ethical standards in journalism, promote gender-sensitive policies and strategies to foster the participation of women and marginalized groups in all levels of media, and strive for appropriate time and resources for investigative reporting.
For the international community, the roadmap recommends that aid programmes should take into account the importance of freedom of expression issues in all development efforts and where relevant, promote the safety of journalists.
Among the themes addressed at the forum were freedom of expression and human and social development, media literacy and the empowerment of marginalized groups, facilitating good governance through media, role of media in promoting peace and dialogue, gender equality and media, safety of journalists and ethics and professional standards.