“For more than four decades, IPDC has been supporting free, independent and pluralistic press in navigating the challenges of a continuously evolving media environment, said IPDC Chair and Ambassador of Sweden Anna Brandt.
The ongoing pandemic had constituted a litmus test for the IPDC, “putting to the test the Programme’s ability to effectively adapt and respond to such a new context”, she noted.
IPDC’s “rapid response” mechanism had enabled 10 projects to be supported early in the year, stated the Chair. “This support included strengthening the capacity of community radios in South Africa to cover the COVID-19 crisis; conducting bootcamp trainings to enhance digital security and digital rights for journalists in Paraguay; or carrying out regional consultations on the impacts of COVID-19 on media freedom, viability and journalists’ safety in Southeast Asia to develop a regional roadmap.”
Xing Qu, Deputy Director-General of UNESCO, who is also acting as the Assistant Director-General for the Sector for Communication and Information, provided an overview of IPDC work over the past year which had shown that “the importance of access to reliable information is clearer than ever”.
He emphasized that free and independent media have a vital role in helping humanity navigate overwhelming information flows. Quoting United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, he reminded participants that “when it comes to telling truth from falsehood, free and independent journalism is our greatest ally”.
The Deputy Director-General went on to highlight the key achievements of the IPDC in this context, stating that “over the past 40 years, the [IPDC] has worked to promote media in developing countries, supported journalists, established standards and frameworks, and accompanied policy reforms.”
He underlined IPDC’s role in working to address emerging challenges – particularly regarding the independence and viability of media in the age of the Internet, as well as journalist safety and gender
Highlighting the Programme’s work on journalists’ safety and its continued relevance in the context of increasing media freedom violations and attacks against journalists during the pandemic, he called the launch of the Director-General’s Report on the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity “one of our most visible successes”.
The IPDC Chair pointed out that “this year’s results-based report on the projects supported through the Programme includes for the first time a dedicated section on gender mainstreaming”, though more needs to be done.
Both speakers thanked all the donors that have contributed to the IPDC’s activities since 2019, namely Andorra, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and ISESCO.
The meeting heard that the Programme is expecting two new earmarked contributions from Google and the Internet Society.
Last year the International Programme for Development of Communication celebrated its 40th anniversary. Over its existence, the IPDC has supported over 2,000 media development projects in 140 countries, particularly in developing countries, SIDS (Small Island and Developing States) and in conflict and post-conflict areas.