Somali journalists have committed themselves to deepen their effective engagement in monitoring and reporting on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG16, which directly bears on their rights and ability to contribute to the implementation of the vision articulated in the 2030 Agenda.
In an engagement forum organised by the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) from 31st January to 1st February in Mogadishu, the forum was the first ever engagement on SDG16 for local journalists and brought together 31 participants including editors, reporters, program producers and presenters. The engagement took place against a backdrop of continuing abuses of fundamental freedom journalists particularly the threats to the safety of journalists and curtailing the right to access information.
Participants also explored ways in which the media can report more effectively and monitor progress towards implementation of Agenda 2030 Agenda, whose Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), envision an integrated and sustainable approach to achieving development through measured progress along 17 development goals.
SDG16 provides a critical entry point through which an independent, professional, diverse and pluralist media, operating in a safe environment, can contribute to the progressive vision articulated in the 2030 Agenda, and the engagement forum consciously sought to inspire Somali media professionals to leverage their capacity to intensify and accelerate progress towards achieving the Goals in Somalia.
The action forms part of NUSOJ partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), through its International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), under which NUSOJ is implementing a number of activities under the localizing SDG16 to promote access to information and protect safety of journalists in Somalia program.
“This engagement is important because journalists can only be effective intermediaries in the development agenda if they themselves understand and appreciate the catalytic role SDGs can have on human progress,” said NUSOJ Secretary General Omar Faruk Osman. “Through this forum, media professionals were able to appreciate their role as important actors in the promotion of peace and development by avoiding and minimising the spread of hate speech and disinformation which can often result in violence.”
“The program seeks to empower journalists to advance public knowledge on SDGs to ensure inclusive and participatory delivery of the 2030 Agenda in Somalia, although we are particularly focusing on the effective implementation of SDG16 to realise fundamental freedoms especially the right to access information in the context of SDG 16.10.2 and protection of the safety of journalists in line with SDG 16.10.1” added Osman.
The journalists pledged to ensure professionalism and to raise greater awareness among the public on the nexus between SDGs and Somalia’s National Development Plan (NDP-9) while highlighting that the program has come at the right time when media professionals needed to play a greater role in advancing the country’s development agenda and promoting locally driven public accountability.