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GFMD’s efforts around the Summit of the Future

26. April 2024

Freedom of expression, media freedom, and access to information are fundamental to achieving the entirety of the Sustainable Development Goals: for fostering fair and just communities, pursuing meaningful and sustainable development and peace, and addressing shared interests in areas such as health, climate change, social justice, economic growth, gender equality, and youth empowerment.

GFMD and its members are thus actively engaging with the United Nations around the Summit of the Future and its outcome documents, including the Pact for the Future and the Global Digital Compact.  These efforts focus on advocating that these processes acknowledge the centrality of access to information and fundamental freedoms such as freedom of expression and media freedom, including the safety of journalists, the vibrancy and viability of public interest media, and the resilience of a healthy, affordable, and autonomous information ecosystem.

What is the Summit of the Future?

The Summit of the Future, scheduled to take place in September 2024, is a high-level event that aims to accelerate the efforts of UN member states to meet existing international commitments, such as the Sustainable Development Goals, and take concrete steps to respond to emerging challenges and opportunities.

What is the Pact for the Future?

The Pact for the Future is the Summit’s key outcome document, akin to a blueprint for development, that will be negotiated and endorsed by countries in the lead-up to and during the Summit in September 2024. It organized around five chapters: sustainable development and financing for development; international peace and security; science, technology, innovation and digital cooperation; youth and future generations; and transforming global governance. The Zero Draft of the Pact contains no reference to media, journalism, or access to information. It mentions the Global Digital Compact but does not include any of its details.

What is the Global Digital Compact?

The Global Digital Compact seeks to promote an “inclusive, open, safe, and secure digital future.” It is organized around five objectives:

  1. Close the digital divides and accelerate progress across the Sustainable Development Goals;
  2. Expand opportunities for inclusion in the digital economy;
  3. Foster an inclusive, open, safe, and secure digital space;
  4. Advance equitable international data governance;
  5. Govern emerging technologies, including Artificial Intelligence, for humanity.

The Zero Draft of the Global Digital Compact does include references to freedom of expression and notes the importance of “diverse and resilient information ecosystems, including by strengthening public service media.”

What is GFMD doing?

GFMD is engaging with the United Nations to advocate that the Pact for the Future and related documents and processes strengthen emphasis on freedom of expression, media independence, journalist safety, and access to information. These efforts include:

  • Written input was submitted at the end of December 2023 in preparation for the Zero Draft of the Pact for the Future and additional feedback on the Zero Draft, submitted in February 2024.
  • Additional feedback on the Global Digital Compact and a second outcome document, the Declaration on Future Generations.
  • Attendance at various briefings by the Outreach Division in the UN Department of Global Communications and other departments.
  • Participation in the UN Civil Society Conference in Nairobi, May 9-10, which will focus on the Summit of the Future.
  • Submission of an expression of interest to the UN in forming what they are calling an “ImPACT Coalition” to advocate for the inclusion of media freedom and related issues into the Pact.
  • Direct engagement with bilateral governments, including those involved with the adoption of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)/Development Assistance Committee (DAC) Development Cooperation Principles on Relevant and Effective Support to Media and the Information Environment.
  • Creation of a UN Advocacy Group for GFMD members and other interested parties.  To join, see https://gfmd.groups.io/g/UN or UN+subscribe@gfmd.groups.io.
  • Monitoring of updates on a daily basis, including the release of subsequent drafts and other opportunities to engage.


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