Decision makers around the world are scrambling to reach their targets as the 2015 deadline looms for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Alongside that scramble, discussions have also begun as to what the world's new aims should be - what are the next set of goals the world should aspire to reach?
That seems like quite a big question to answer - we're talking about what the aims and objectives of the world should be. Doesn't this seem like something a lot more of us should have a say in? The United Nations has been adamant in reminding us that "it's your world", but when it comes to making the decisions, "our world" seems to feel like a distant and naive concept. While the current MDGs cover some essential issues that should definitely be on the global agenda, there is one area that has been overlooked by decision makers and it's an area that can only be brought to light and put on the agenda by the citizens of the world.
With the turn of the 21st century and the technology boom that came with it, freedom of the media and the people's right to access to transparent information have become a vital area that needs addressing. It seems that we're constantly hearing stories of journalists being tortured, kidnapped, or worse, simply for reporting on facts. In many countries tales of governments only allowing journalists to publish their own propaganda is not only frightening, but also deeply concerning for those of us who understand how vital access to information is in shaping our decisions - and in turn, shaping our world.
Eradicating poverty and combating HIV/AIDS are imperative to development and their place amongst the MDGs mustn't be diminished. However, if we take a second to understand the value of media freedom in today's world, we very quickly realise that all the other MDGs are dependent on the people's right to information. How could we possibly hold world leaders to account for not eradicating poverty if it weren't for the journalists who informed us about the exact measures that are being taken by world leaders on the issue? How can we understand the complexities and technicalities of combating HIV/AIDS if the press doesn't tell us? More needs to be done to ensure that journalists around the world have the freedom and ability to bring us this information.
In the UK we're privileged to have a relatively free press. Our newspapers are often filled with stories about how our politicians aren't doing what we expect of them and how those higher up the ladder of power are cheating us. That media coverage is what often brings people together to demand better of those in charge, making it difficult for our leaders to carry on doing anything that might upset the public. Unfortunately, many other countries around the world cannot brag the same rights. It seems basic enough - allow the press to tell us what they need to tell us. Yet many governments are responsible for intercepting information and telling journalists what they can and cannot inform the public of. In poorer countries, where not everyone has access to the Internet, journalists are often the sole source of information for members of society. Do they not have the right to transparent information? Should they not be given the same privileges as us, where they can read about what world leaders are doing and hold them to account when they aren't happy?
The MYWorld survey conducted by the United Nations gave the people of the world a chance to voice their opinions about what they think are the most important issues for consideration in the post-2015 framework. "Honest and accountable governments" was in the top four issues, proving more important than even food security and access to water. If we are to give the people of the world honest and accountable governments, we need to also give them a press that can report on government activities without fearing for their lives during the process.
By allowing journalists to tell the whole story and paint a complete picture, rather than telling people the story as the government wishes them to see it, we're also encouraging people to make decisions for themselves. It's time for the global community to come together to put media freedom on the international agenda. No longer should people remain mere puppets of an administration, but instead, should draw their own conclusions and take one more step towards a freer, fairer and more sustainable world.
And after all, isn't that what the Millennium Development Goals were designed to achieve?