Knowledge is increasingly becoming a crucial resource for prosperity and the opportunity to choose certain concepts of life. Knowledge is the basic requirement for democratic participation. Therefore, one of UNESCO’s most important tasks is the promotion of knowledge societies, which realise access to information and education as well as freedom of opinion and cultural diversity.
The internet has enormous potential for the development of such knowledge societies. It technically enables the distribution of knowledge and information worldwide; users are offered access to knowledge by many innovative services.
"UNESCO and the Social Web: Perspectives and Opportunities"
In order to discuss the potentials of this development for the achievement of UNESCO’s aims, the German Commission for UNESCO hosted the workshop "UNESCO and the Social Web: Perspectives and opportunities" from 18th until 19th November 2010 in Berlin. The four committees of experts of the German Commission for UNESCO, responsible for education, science, culture, communication and information where jointly in charge of the agenda.
Different perspectives on chances and challenges the internet provides were depicted in short presentations on practical examples: New forms of expert participations via online consultations, ways of strengthening and promoting cultural diversity, opportunities for education by virtual knowledge acquisition and the perspectives the internet offers for journalism and librarianship. The participants agreed that the social media has the capacity to cause structural changes in die field of communication. UNESCO could use the potential of knowledge communities especially for the development of modern knowledge societies. The committees of experts handed over recommendations to UNESCO, based on the workshop's results.
Using the Potentials of Social Media for UNESCO's Goals
Based on the results of the workshop, the 71st General Assembly of the German Commission for UNESCO, the German Commission for UNESCO adopted a resolution entitled "Using the Potentials of Social Media for UNESCO’s Goals" in June 2011 in Berlin. In this resolution, the German Commission for UNESCO appeals to all responsible political and professional institutions in Germany to make use of social media for the promotion of modern knowledge societies according to UNESCO’s principles.
The German Commission for UNESCO calls upon the federal government to review the legal conditions regarding the use of social media. The resolution prompts the Federal Government, the Federal States and the various stakeholders in the education system to foster new forms of education via social media in all levels of education. Furthermore, the transfer of skills regarding the use of social media is to be secured on all educational levels. Research on civil rights on the internet is to be promoted and the potential of social media for science is to be analysed and expanded.
Equal access to education and information provided by new media
The 68th General Assembly of the German Commission for UNESCO adopted a resolution on equal opportunities in the field of knowledge and information acquisition provided by new media. The German Commission for UNESCO sees great potential in new information and communication technologies for the promotion of knowledge societies. It appeals to the political and professional institutions responsible to work towards equal opportunities for all concerning the free and fair access to information. In the resolution, the German Commission for UNESCO campaigns for better equipped libraries and a high quality public broadcasting programme, also in the new media.