Former president of Ghana, H.E. John Kufuor and Nobel Prize Winner in economics Joseph Stiglitz have congratulated UNESCO’s specialized programme for media development and offered ideas for the future.
Their messages were aired during the celebration of 40 years of UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC).
Kufour affirmed that the necessity for a vibrant and free media to check governance, to ensure accountability and transparency could not be overemphasized.
UNESCO’s work in supporting the development of communication through IPDC is not ended. It must redouble its efforts in keeping abreast with, and even be ahead of, both technical and human resources.
In his video message, Stiglitz said: “We need to strengthen free and diverse media with public support. Information is a public good, it’s one of the important insights of modern economics. And as a public good, it needs public support. Good information is necessary for the functioning of a strong democratic state.” He also called for media viability to maintain independence through practicing innovative business models.
There needs to be a leveling of the playing field between social media and the more traditional media. But it has to be done in a careful way. There has to be control of misinformation and disinformation, but not in a way that undermines democracy, or undermines free speech.
H.E. Kufuor noted that UNESCO had launched the IPDC to support media development in developing countries by increasing technical and human resources for the media, developing community media and modernizing news agencies and broadcasting organizations. “I must, with great appreciation, commend the IPDC that over these 40 years it has by and large succeeded in carrying out these mandates,” he said.
The former president said that Ghana’s co-operation with IPDC had helped to contribute to Ghana as a "showcase of what should pertain in the context of a developing and emerging democracy".
The year of 2020 marks the 40th anniversary of IPDC, as the only multilateral forum in the UN system that is dedicated to supporting independent media through training, research, capacity building, support to law reform and more.