2021 World Press Freedom to promote Information as a Public Good in a severely challenged media landscape

UNESCO and the Government of Namibia will host the World Press Freedom Day Global Conference in Windhoek from 29 April through 3 May, World Press Freedom Day. The laureate of the 2021 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Press Freedom Prize will be honoured during the conference, on 2 May.

Professional journalists and other media stakeholders at the Conference will call for urgent measures to counter the threats that are weakening independent and local news media around the world, a crisis worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic. They will put forward solutions to bolster media viability, push for greater transparency from social media companies, and measures to improve the safety of journalists and support independent media. Participants are also expected to urge governments to invest in media and information literacy training to help people recognize, value, and defend fact-based journalism as an essential part of information as a public good.

Some 40 sessions will be held during the 5-day conference including three thematic discussions on issues currently affecting media viability, the transparency of online platforms, and ways to strengthen media and information literacy.

Hage Geingob, the President of Namibia, and UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay will address the conference on 2 May, alongside senior African government officials and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (through a video message).

Keynotes and interviews with over 250 world-renowned journalists, media and tech leaders, experts, policy makers, and activists will be held during the event which be an opportunity for registered participants to network, and interact with speakers, and access an offering of podcasts, films, and artistic contributions on a conference online platform.

Notable speakers will include:

Joseph Stiglitz (USA), Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences
Irene Khan, UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression
Agnès Callamard, Secretary General, Amnesty International
Maria Ressa (Philippines), CEO of Rappler
Swe Win, Editor in Chief of Myanmar Now, recognized media outlet for its collaborative and investigative reporting on human rights abuses.
Julie Owono, Member of Facebook’s Oversight Board. Executive Director of Internet sans Frontiers
Miranda Johnson, The Economist, Deputy Executive Editor
Stephen Dunbar-Johnson (USA), President, International of The New York Times
Sir Nicholas Clegg, Vice-President for Global Affairs and Communications at Facebook
Notable programme highlights will include:

Six Regional Forums on specific, regional aspects of press freedom and ways to tackle current trends and challenges. The Forums build on the regional seminars that followed the UNESCO’s first African press freedom seminar in Windhoek in 1991.
A one-on-one dialogue about information as a public good with Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences and Miranda Johnson, Deputy Executive Editor of The Economist.
30 April: Presentation of key findings from UNESCO’s global study on online violence against women journalists, a trailblazing research project that assesses the scope and impact of the new frontline of media safety through big data analyses and an in-depth literature review.

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