Lights, Camera, Action: Tanzania's Media Mobilizes for SDGs
21 September 2023
The United Nations in Tanzania continues to recognize the key role that media play in shining a spotlight on Tanzania's development path.
In preparation for the 2023 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Summit taking place in New York September 18-19, the United Nations (UN) in Tanzania, in collaboration with the Tanzania Editor’s Forum (TEF), recently held a meeting to provide editors from a diverse array of media platforms with essential insights into the upcoming SDGs Summit. The meeting also served as an opportunity for the UN to brief editors on the findings of the 2023 Special Edition UN SDGs Report and Tanzania's 2023 Voluntary National Review (VNR). Additionally, the meeting sought to strategize on enhancing the visibility of the SDGs in media reporting.
The meeting was hosted in the newly inaugurated UN House, generously provided to the UN by the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania. Welcoming the attendees, the UN Resident Coordinator in Tanzania, underscored the significance of this moment in the global journey towards the 2030 Agenda. “This is where you, the media, play an indispensable role. You are not merely observers but active participants in ensuring accountability and in facilitating public engagement,” he said. Mr. Milisic further emphasized to the editors that, “The media’s role in disseminating information, scrutinizing policies, and providing a platform for dialogue is pivotal. You help the public access the information they need to make informed decisions and hold leaders accountable for their commitments.”
Launched in 2015, the SDGs represent a universal call to address pressing global challenges, ranging from poverty and inequality to climate change and peace. The Special Edition UN SDGs Report from July 2023 highlighted the sobering reality that, at the halfway point to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, just 12% of the SDG targets are on track globally, with insufficient progress on 50% and regress on more than 30% of the SDGs.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, and other global challenges has significantly hindered progress. The report stressed that it is the world's poorest and most vulnerable populations that bear the brunt of these challenges. This situation serves as a stark reminder of the urgency of the mission and the necessity for collaborative efforts to overcome the hurdles ahead.
Mr. Salim Said Salim, TEF Executive Committee Member, recognized the urgency of the situation and called on his media peers to ensure that stories are issues-based and focused on the impact that different policies and developments are having in people’s lives. “The SDGs are a collective responsibility and as the media we have an important role to play. As editors, we are the gatekeepers of information and we need to ensure that we are reporting on the issues that are affecting people’s lives – especially the poorest communities that are furthest behind,” he said.
Within Tanzania, the government recently presented its 2nd VNR on the SDGs, offering a comprehensive assessment of the country's progress in SDG implementation. The VNR highlights areas of considerable achievement, thanks to the joint efforts of the Government, civil society, partners, private sector, and other stakeholders. However, it also reveals challenging areas where intensified efforts are required.
A substantial portion of Tanzania's population continues to live below the international poverty line, emphasizing the unequal nature of growth. Prioritizing the well-being of the poorest and most vulnerable segments of society, including youth, women, men, and persons with disabilities, is of utmost importance.
The media play a pivotal role in this development journey. They are not mere observers but active participants in ensuring accountability and fostering public engagement. Their role in disseminating information, scrutinizing policies, and providing a platform for dialogue is crucial. Media professionals help the public access vital information and make informed decisions.
This meeting was an opportunity for the UN to share insights with the media, but equally, it was an opportunity to listen. The perspectives, questions, and reporting of the media are instrumental in shaping the national discourse on the SDGs. The UN values its partnership with the media and looks forward to continued collaboration in raising awareness and advocating for the SDGs.
In closing, a quote from UN Secretary-General António Guterres resonates deeply: “Unless we act now, the 2030 Agenda will become an epitaph for a world that might have been.” The meeting reaffirmed the importance of media's active engagement in shaping a world that realizes the aspirations of the SDGs and Agenda 2030.