UNESCO workshop strengthens media diversity and cultural pluralism in Eastern Africa

Screen shot of some of the participants in the training workshop ©UNESCO

In the framework of the project “Reshaping Cultural Policies for the Promotion of Fundamental Freedoms and the Diversity of Cultural Expressions,” UNESCO organized a series of hybrid (physical and online) knowledge transfer workshops from 15 to 25 November 2021 on media diversity and cultural pluralism in four Eastern African countries (Ethiopia, Mauritius, Tanzania, Uganda).

The training targeted 35 media and cultural stakeholders, national experts and government officers from the region and provided a platform to build capacities on the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and to discuss policy initiatives and measures needed to support media diversity and its content across countries in Eastern Africa.

Mr. Charles Vallerand, international expert on media diversity from the UNESCO 2005 Convention Expert Facility, led and moderated four interactive sessions that raised awareness among national media on the linkages between media diversity and the diversity of cultural expressions. Mr. Vallerand equipped media professionals with requisite tools to advocate for the promotion of diverse cultural expressions in media sphere, to identify gaps, and to demonstrate the role of media as enablers of diversity in cultural expressions.

The most pressing issue facing media and cultural practitioners today is the fight against online and other forms of piracy, especially as the Covid-19 pandemic has increased global consumption of culture at home. International cooperation and the collaboration of digital platforms are key. At the national level, countries must ensure copyright laws are adapted to the new digital environment and are effectively enforced to ensure artists, media professionals and publishers are given the means to thrive.
Mr. Charles Vallerand, UNESCO expert

The workshop included presentations by Mr. John Bosco Mayiga, Programme Specialist in Communications and Information at the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa, which covered national policies and measures to support diversity of the media and the diversity of content in the media in the digital environment. Mr. Bosco also led a group discussion on recent trends on national, regional, international levels that might have a positive or a negative impact on diversity in the media.

Ms. Karalyn Monteil, Programme Specialist for Culture at UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa highlighted how creativity can foster national identity, social cohesion, intercultural dialogue and sustainable development, as well as of the role of media for the promotion of the diversity of cultural expression and monitoring the implementation of the UNESCO 2005 Convention. Ms. Monteil also expressed UNESCO hope that this workshop would help to strengthen the network of media stakeholders from the Eastern Africa region and identify recommendations for the role of media in the promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions in Eastern Africa.

National focal points from Ministries for Culture in the four beneficiary countries--Mr. Teferi Teklu from Ethiopia; Ms. Annabelle Arekion from Mauritius; Mr. Peter Simon Maqway from Tanzania; and Ms. Juliana Akoryo Naumo from Uganda—facilitated the engagement of the national teams in the workshop activities and guided the development of national strategies for media diversity, presented and discussed during the last session.

The workshop was closed by Mr. Toussaint Tiendrebeogo, Secretary to the UNESCO 2005 Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, who encouraged participants to further engage in advocacy and policy actions on media regulations and policies for media diversity and the diversity of cultural expressions in their respective countries. He highlighted that “the media play a key role in encouraging the production of diverse cultural content as well as in promoting access to cultural content to the public” and that “media stakeholders are therefore key strategic partners for the implementation of the 2005 Convention.”

As beneficiary countries involved in the project“Reshaping Cultural Policies for the Promotion of Fundamental Freedoms and the Diversity of Cultural Expressions” funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), Ethiopia, Mauritius, Tanzania and Uganda will continue implementing activities in 2022, by building on the submitted quadrennial periodic reports and the UNESCO third Global Report: Reshaping Policies for Creativity to be released in February 2022.