The United Nation Economic, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) has endorsed a special initiative to forge knowledge-driven media development as a way of using knowledge to “better support free, independent and pluralistic media”.
UNESCO has therefore called on Member States to summon sufficient political will to support its efforts to become a learning organization in recognition of the importance of knowledge and in creating the right environment to capture it.
This call was made by Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General, during a public lecture entitled: Forging an Agenda for Knowledge-Driven Media Development, co- hosted by the Sector for Communication and Information, the Permanent Delegation of Germany, the German Commission for UNESCO and Deutsche Welle.
Bokova, who was represented by Getachew Engida, UNESCO Deputy Director-General said: “In sum, this is about refining UNESCO’s support to media development through the creation of a learning cycle that bolsters results-based management”.
Gunter Nooke, Personal Representative of the German Chancellor for Africa at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) challenged participants to explore the potential of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for the post-2015 development agenda
Nooke argued that ICTs could facilitate the eradication of poverty worldwide, especially in Africa. He recalled how technical innovation had influenced the course of history, citing how the protestant Reformation ideas of the German cleric Martin Luther had been influenced by the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg.
Peter Limbourg, Director-General of Deutsche Welle (DW), highlighted DW’s challenges in the new communications environment, pointing out that the major changes which had taken place globally necessitated a rethink of the DW brand.
Limbourg said: “In my new function as Director General, I will consequently continue to enhance DW’s multimedia content and its strong journalistic and multilingual profile.” There was a “strong correlation between media development, education and human rights”, challenging his company and UNESCO to act as “mediators between these spheres,” he added.
“It is therefore vital”, he stressed, “that we join forces and emphasize the important role of journalistic education and a free press in order to foster democracy, development and citizen participation”.
On his part, Danny van Heck, General Manager of SAP’s Public Services in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), argued for the role of ICTs in leveraging new media to develop the knowledge economies of the future. He noted that new media were a key component in delivering “effective education and training to future generations”.
Vice-President of the German Commission for UNESCO, Verena Metze-Mangold, examined the issue of media convergence and its implications for development. She argued that media convergence offered an opportunity for “scattered spheres” to emerge – all of which were critical to promoting political pluralism and democracy.
The lecture was attended by 60 participants, including representatives of the UNESCO Permanent Delegations of Canada, Brazil, Gabon, Lithuania and Zambia.