All countries and the international development community recognize the threat of disinformation. The world has come face-to-face with another wave of disinformation in connection with the COVID-19 crisis. Disinformation fuels risks to public health. It also reinforces related challenges such as gender biases, inequalities, and socio-economic divisions of all forms.
Disinformation feeds socio-political polarization, providing grounds for racist and anti-migrant division, “Us against Them” – further complicating global response to crises like COVID-19. In sum, disinformation, coupled with information and knowledge divides, threatens the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and fundamental human rights for all.
Media and Information Literacy (MIL) can help to address these challenges. MIL works to empower the receivers of information, which is everyone. It is a vital competence if people are to differentiate between information and disinformation and to know how and where they can locate trustworthy sources of facts and informed opinion, and why it is crucial not to circulate unverified content.
This is a life-and-death issue, notably when viewed in light of the Coronavirus crisis. Considered more broadly, MIL enhances people’s participation in governance and sustainable development in general by improving their competencies in information, communication, and technology. Developing MIL also offers a long-term and systemic policy response to disinformation. It calls for public policies at the national and institutional levels, thus responding to UNESCO’s reflection on the “Futures of Education.” MIL provides an essential dimension of how education might be re-thought in a complex world. MIL forms part of new visions and strategies for both education policy and education practices in light of the disruption of disinformation.
This has become a critical imperative in the digital age. Technological advances, datadriven business models, the development of media, and the explosion of information have shifted the relations between the production and use of information and media content. New technologies have opened up an opportunity for everyone to have a voice. At the same time, they are used to magnify disinformation as well as enable privacy and data abuse, contributing to the manipulation of people and the polarization of societies. MIL not only responds to the reality of young men and women engaging in alternative modes of civil and social advocacy via social media and new
technologies – it is a critical means through which the media, technological intermediaries, and the international development community can act to address the scourge of disinformation.
Of significant note is that new stakeholders in MIL have emerged, and historically distinct roles are merging. Technological intermediaries and media regulators are beginning to support MIL development, joining with traditional players such as NGOs, educational institutions, and libraries.
Increasingly, we are all – whether individuals, collectives, or institutions – part of the intertwined information, media, and technological ecology, with our messages, values, and possibilities to create. It is through our combined agency and our potential to become active creators of digital solutions that we can tackle disinformation and advance a development which is enabling and inclusive.
The theme for Global MIL Week 2020, Resisting the Disinfodemic: Media and Information Literacy for and by everyone, highlights how we can look to addressing disinformation and divides by recognizing our shared interest in improving everyone’s competencies to engage with the opportunities and risks in today’s landscape of communication, technology, and information.
In this way, MIL – along with Global Citizenship Education - can help progress towards the SDGs by equipping citizens with the knowledge, skills, values, and practices to be engaged as critical-thinking citizens in societies. These competencies can empower citizens for involvement in media development, access to information and knowledge for all, and freedom of expression, which all have implications on how the war against disinformation can be won.
Target 10 of SDG 16, “public access to information and fundamental freedoms,” which aims to contribute to building societies that are democratic, peaceful, inclusive, and just – relates directly to MIL. MIL also contributes to Target 4.7 of SDG 4 by ensuring all learners acquire the knowledge as well as the information and technological skills needed to promote sustainable development. These are all being upended by the scale of disinformation that is a driver of the COVID-19 pandemic and its disastrous impacts: i.e., the current “disinfodemic”.
Against this backdrop, Global MIL Week 2020 draws attention to how stakeholders can foster - through MIL - the free flow of information and ideas while addressing disinformation and the knowledge needed to resist divisions and build rights-respecting society unity and cohesion.
In-Focus Online Sessions (Multiple Language Interpretation)
26-30 October 2020
Virtual Panels Spread over the Week (host platform TBC; some options are Zoom,
Google Hangouts, MS Teams, Facebook Live, etc. The choice of medium will depend on its compatibility with streaming videos live on social media.)
- Tackling disinformation in democratic societies: Social network services and MIL communities
- Lifelong learning: MIL education for everyone and by everyone
- MIL for equality: Women, refugees, persons with disabilities, and indigenous peoples (including a perspective on intersectionality)
- Implementation and evaluation of MIL policies and curricula: long-term defenses against disinformation
- Korea in Focus (physical conference room with limited audiences and speakers abroad connect to a real-time dialogue)
- Participation in society by media and information literate youth in the face of disinformation (Youth Agenda Forum session)
- Remote Learning and Democratic Communications: MIL Implications
- Regional Online Consultation of the Updating of the UNESCO model MIL Curriculum (Teacher involvement ensured) and Easy-to-use Tool for Assessing MIL Programmes and Projects
- Launch of the UNESCO MIL Alliance 2.0 (GAPMIL and MILID Open Dialogue)
- Youth Tackling the Disinfodemic: Outcome of the MIL and Games Youth Hackathon (Youth Agenda Forum session)
Extraordinary Online Partnership Meetings:
- UN Roundtable
- Virtual Partners Forum
International Organizing Committee
Aichurek Usupbaeva | Programme Director, Media Support Center Foundation (Kyrgyzstan)
Alexandre Le Voci Sayad | Co-Chair, UNESCO-led Global Alliance for Partnerships on Media and Information Literacy (Brazil)
Alireza Salehi Nejad | Researcher, University of Tehran (Iran)
Alton Grizzle | UNESCO (Paris)
Amro Selim | Chair, Elmoustkbal Organization for Media, Policy and Strategic Studies (Egypt)
Beatrice Bonami | Youth Ambassador for Latin America and the Caribbean, UNESCO-led Global Alliance for Partnerships on Media and Information Literacy (Brazil)
Claire McGuire | Policy and Research Officer, International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (Netherlands)
Daniel Nwaeze | Media and Communications Coordinator, Afrika Youth Movement (Nigeria)
Diana Dahye Park | Programme Specialist in Communications, Korean National Commission for UNESCO (Republic of Korea)
Drissia Chouit | Professor, Moulay Ismail University of Meknes (Morocco)
Eva Reina | Lecturer, University of Gothenburg (Luxembourg)
Felipe Chibas | Associate Professor, University of Sao Paulo (Brazil)
Hana Achargui | UNESCO (Paris)
Jose Reuben Alagaran | President, Philippine Association for Media and Information Literacy (Philippines)
Lea Cengic | Head of Content and Media Literacy, Communications Regulatory Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Linda Sternö | Lecturer, University of Gothenburg (Sweden)
Manisha Pathak-Shelat | Professor and Chair, Centre for Development Management and Communication (India)
Ogova Ondego | Managing Trustee, Lola Kenya Screen (Kenya)
Sherri Hope Culver | Co-Vice-chair, UNESCO-led Global Alliance for Partnerships on Media and Information Literacy (USA)
Soomin Chung | Programme Specialist in Communications, Korean National Commission for UNESCO (Republic of Korea)
Veronica Yarnykh | Head of Global Programs, Moscow Pedagogical State University (Russian Federation)
Xu Jing | UNESCO (Paris)
Yazid Ibrahim | Senior Assistant Director, National Library of Malaysia (Malaysia)
Young-eun Kim | Director of Communications, Korean National Commission for UNESCO (Republic of Korea)