Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): ending poverty, improving health and education, combating climate change and protecting the environment. Photo: UNDESA.
Titled “Building a better world post-2015,” the issue includes articles on setting a media agenda in the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), putting a human rights perspective on the post-2015 agenda and how youth voices should be heard in a post-2015 world.
The MDGs set out goals for world development such as the eradication of extreme poverty, promotion of gender equality and improvement in child mortality. Established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000, the eight goals were intended to show measurable achievement by 2015.
Now, writes Media Development editor Philip Lee, “many people are asking what happens next? What is the plan and what are the priorities?” A search of official documents shows that “there is very little to be found relating to the role communication rights, mass and social media are to play in this brave new world.”
The SDGs, he writes, were formulated in 2012 at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development. “A key question was how the SDGs would relate to or advance the earlier MDGs,” said Lee.
The SDGs expanded the scope of the MDGs to 17 goals, but Lee points out that “communication received short shrift, with barely a mention under Goal 16, ‘Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms’ – presumably including freedom of expression and opinion.”
There is general agreement that “strengthening communications, independent and pluralistic media and improving access to information and communication technologies play an essential role in the development of today’s information societies and communities,” Lee writes.
This year also marks the 15th anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1325, a landmark legal and political framework acknowledging the importance of the participation of women and the inclusion of gender perspectives in all aspects of peace-building. It recognizes that exclusion from peace processes infringes women’s rights.
However, Lee notes, “despite a broad commitment to gender-inclusive and women’s-rights-based approaches to peace processes, the role of media in portraying peace process, particularly those involving or impacting women, is little understood.”
In December 2014, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrote that “with our globalized economy and sophisticated technology, we can decide to end the age-old ills of extreme poverty and hunger.”
Lee writes that “none of these noble aspirations will come about unless people are able to communicate their dreams, concerns, and needs – locally, nationally, regionally, globally. The obstacles are many: social, cultural, political, ideological, yet communication can help overcome them all unless it is silenced, censored, and repressed.”
Unless communication rights are ensured, “the post- 2015 agenda may take a wrong turn.”
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