UNESCO and the European Union join forces to ensure the flow of quality information in the Covid-19 crisis

UNESCO and the European Union are launching an awareness-raising project to strengthen the resilience of states in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. The project will help societies address the challenge of the lack of reliable information on the coronavirus. This lack of trustworthy information has far-reaching consequences not only for public health, but also for good governance and for peace.

The UNESCO project will establish national or regional online information resource centers for media professionals, providing journalists with content, information and verified statistics on the pandemic. In addition, it will implement awareness-raising campaigns on social media platforms, reinforce national and regional fact-checking networks, support public broadcasters and local radio stations to produce content on the pandemic, and run online training programs for journalists.

The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, welcomed the signing of this agreement, highlighting the fact that “since the onset of this pandemic, societies have become especially vulnerable to fake news and rumors. Our efforts to guarantee access to reliable, high quality information not only protect people from a life-threatening disease, they are also a critical component of peace building.”

The project funding of €2.5 million over a period of 12 months will be allocated primarily to Afghanistan, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Mozambique, Senegal and Zimbabwe. It is provided by the “European Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace”, part of the EU’s Exceptional Assistance Measures in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak.” The project is intended to bolster UNESCO’s work defending freedom of expression and access to quality, verified information. It further builds on the Organization’s initial efforts to counter disinformation about the pandemic.

Soon after COVID-19 became a pandemic, UNESCO launched a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), “Journalism in a pandemic: Covering COVID-19 now and in the future”, which 9,000 journalists in 160 countries have participated in to date. Developed with the UNESCO Chair at the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Development Program, this MOOC is delivered in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish, and will also shortly be available in Arabic, Chinese and Russian.

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