launching of the “Media Development” programme
Mr. Robert Watkins
UNDP’s Resident Representative
In the launching of the
“Media Development” programme
Crown Plaza, Hamra
April 12th, 2011
Excellency Minister of Information Dr. Tarek Mitri
Representatives of the Media, Civil Society and private sector
I am pleased to be with you today to help launch the “Media for Development” project. It is timely that this event comes both on the eve of the 36th anniversary of the outbreak of civil strife, the tragic consequences of which are still felt daily, and in the context of sweeping changes now taking place across the region at a breathtaking pace. It is clear that the media can and must play a central role in helping to avoid the tragedies of the past while steering Lebanon towards a brighter future in a new regional reality.
UNDP has a long history of nearly two decades supporting Lebanon’s development across a number of dimensions, from social and local development, democratic governance, environment and energy to crisis prevention and recovery.
During this period UNDP, like all UN agencies, has organized its efforts in support of Lebanon’s achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a guiding framework of 8 mutually reinforcing priorities across the poverty, education, health and environmental fields that world leaders have committed to achieving by 2015. UNDP seeks to serve as a catalyst in this process, promoting awareness and mobilizing resources while supporting Government efforts to develop and implement targeted national and local MDG strategies, monitoring progress and tackling constraints along the way. The “Media for Development” initiative comes within this larger context of support to Lebanese institutions.
Lebanon appears to be reasonably on track to achieve several of the Goals by 2015, mainly those in the education and health fields, which is to be commended. At the same time, we still face a long journey together to achieve the fundamentally important Goals of poverty eradication, gender equality and environmental sustainability. With respect to poverty, a slight reduction in the level of extreme poverty has been reported in recent years dropping from 10.1 percent in 1995 to 8 percent in 2005. However, the pace of this trend seems far too slow to meet the 2015 target of reducing the level of severe poverty by half in the country. The same can be said about gender. Although figures suggest equal opportunity for women and men, girls and boys in terms of access to education, data on economic participation and political representation paint a picture in which women in Lebanon are excluded to a significant degree in comparison both regionally and globally.
Representing a complex set of interwoven challenges, achievement of development goals is only possible through the collaboration of many different partners, each bringing a unique added value to the response. Government, NGO’s, elected representatives, and the public at large all have important roles to play. Yet an impartial, objective and professional media is a necessary condition to enable this process. Highlighting gaps as well as achievements, communicating the common concerns of the Lebanese across social, political, geographic and confessional affiliations, the media provides both critically important information flow and accountability. We hope that in this way, the “Media for Development” initiative will support Lebanon’s dual aspirations for peace and sustainable development.
In closing, I would like to express our gratitude to H.E. the Lebanese Minister of Information for his support and presence, and to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs for making this initiative possible through their generous contribution. I would also like to thank the Council for Development and Reconstruction, our national coordinating partner for all projects, and both the AFP-Foundation and Canal France International, who will join us in implementing this initiative.
Finally, I would like to express our appreciation for the encouraging response from the Lebanese media. Your broad participation and commitment to the two year “Media for Development” training programme lends confidence that this initiative will make an impact.