Freedom of information and Sustainable development

Apr 25, 2016

With 2016 as the official year to strengthen global commitments on sustainable development through the promotion of 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations Country Team in Samoa and NUS agreed to host this event to highlight the significance of the media in development and its many functions that can further the cause of improving the quality of life. Photo credit: UNDP/NUS/UNESCO/2016

Next Thursday three UN Agencies (UNESCO, FAO and UNDP), in partnership with the National University of Samoa (NUS), will be hosting a Media Seminar to commemorate World Press Freedom Day. The Seminar will bring together Communication Officers from Government Ministries and Media Representatives and will be held at the FAO Conference Room in Matautu Uta, Apia.

Every year, UNESCO leads the worldwide celebration by identifying the global thematic and organizing the main event in different parts of world. The global theme for 2016 is “Freedom of Information and Sustainable Development”.

With 2016 as the official year to strengthen global commitments on sustainable development through the promotion of 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations Country Team in Samoa and NUS agreed to host this event to highlight the significance of the media in development and its many functions that can further the cause of improving the quality of life.  

The main goal of the Seminar, is to provide the media with accurate and simple information on sustainable development in the hope that they will disseminate it broadly to educate Samoan communities. The activity also aims at enhancing strong collaborations between communication officers of government ministries, NGOs, international organisations and the mainstream media. 

The Seminar will be followed by an evening reception to celebrate NUS Media and Journalism Students’ Annual Awards through the assistance of UNESCO.

Why freedom of information is so important?

Freedom of information is a fundamental freedom and a human right, inherently bound up with the broader right to freedom of expression. It covers the right to seek and receive information, and it complements the right to impart information which is the freedom to make information public via the right to press freedom.

In its dual dimensions of freedom of information and press freedom, freedom of expression is a right of high significance for other rights, as well as for sustainable development. 

Freedom of expression helps move the 2030 Agenda forward by contributing to Sustainable Development Goal 16: “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”. 

In this way, freedom of expression as a whole, is vital to achieving: “Public access to information and fundamental freedoms” - one of the targets of SDG 16.

Freedom of information defines the degree of openness and transparency within a society. Therefore any limitations on the access to information side of communications, impact on the imparting side, and vice versa. The two dimensions are essential for the full exercise of the right to free expression. 

Implementation of freedom of information raises issues such as whether the laws are well-known, in terms of high public awareness; whether requests are administered efficiently and whether there are high fees for the requester; and whether the average citizen understands how his health is affected not only because of climate change but of his because of his own lifestyle.

Journalism has a major role to play in actualizing the right to information in the interests of the wider public. But how much of our own Governments plan for Sustainable Development are well known and understood by the Media is a key question. 

The Seminar invites the participation of journalists, announcers, programme producers from all media organisations in Samoa as well as Communications Officers from several government ministries.

A statement of commitment to promote and publicise the Sustainable Development Goals is expected to be developed for participants at the end of the seminar and will be launched during the evening reception. 

ENDS

Contact information

·         Mrs. Aterina Samosoni Pele, UNESCO Communication Officer, Phone: +685 24276 – E-mail: a.samasoni-pele@unesco.org

 

·         Mrs. Francesca Mondello, UN Communication Specialist, United Nations Resident Coordinator Office - Phone: +685 23670 ext. 66 - Email: francesca.mondello@one.un.org

 

·         Misa Vicky Lepou, Head of Media and Communication Department, National University of Samoa, 20072 ext. 186 or v.lepou@nus.edu.ws

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