Strengthening Wikimedia’s voice in public policy: The 1st Global Wiki Advocacy meeting in Santiago de Chile

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From May 2-4, Wikimedia Chile hosted the first Wiki Advocacy Meeting, a gathering for Wikimedians and digital rights activists dedicated to the defense and protection of open knowledge in the public sphere. The event was held in the framework of the UNESCO World Press Freedom Day Conference that this year also took place in Santiago de Chile.

Representatives from more than 20 countries, including members of the global Wikimedia movement and civil society representatives from Latin America met for three days in Santiago to discuss and work on three objectives:

  • To know and exchange experiences regarding the main challenges that each affiliate is currently facing in the work of promoting and defending the Wikimedia model in their respective regions
  • Identify global trends that could affect the sustainability of the Wikimedia model of free knowledge in digital environments, and define priority issues to be addressed at this time. 
  • To strengthen a network of Wikimedians involved in advocacy and defense of free knowledge in public policy, with emphasis on the inclusion of the global south.

An opportunity to defend free knowledge from Latin America

The Wiki Advocacy meeting was part of a larger event: the 31st UNESCO World Press Freedom Day Conference, which this year was held for the first time in Santiago, Chile, and was dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of journalism and access to information.

Wikimedia Chile identified this event as a valuable opportunity to convene the different actors of the Wikimedia movement dedicated to promoting and protect the role of open knowledge in the creation of better information environments, especially in the digital world.   

In order to take advantage of the local context, the Chilean chapter also decided to hold the Wiki Advocacy meeting at the Extension Center of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, a space located just steps away from the UNESCO Conference venue. Thus, within the program of the meeting, attendees had the opportunity to attend discussions and plenary sessions of the UNESCO Conference, with world representatives dedicated to the defense of freedom of expression and press, in contexts marked by phenomena such as disinformation, the advancement of new technologies, content regulation and governance of digital platforms.  

“Participating in an event like the UNESCO Press Freedom Day allows us to observe how they work and what are the issues of interest of the actors linked to freedom of press and expression that affect the Wikimedia movement. Facilitating that different community members could participate and learn from this instance, in Santiago, seemed a unique opportunity that we could not miss as an organization,” said Patricia Diaz Rubio, Executive Director of Wikimedia Chile.

Wiki skills for citizenship: the need for skills training to combat misinformation and foster media literacy

As part of the meeting program, Wikimedia Chile also organized two parallel events open to the community: a workshop on Wikimedia tools and disinformation, and a discussion on digital and media literacy. The first meeting was aimed at journalists and communicators from Chile, and was led by Costanza Sciubba, Anti Disinformation Strategy Lead at Wikimedia Foundation, César Baeza, Correspondent of Reporters Without Borders in Chile and Carla Toro, Training and Technologies Manager at Wikimedia Chile. There, tools were provided to understand the multiple aspects of the phenomenon of disinformation in digital environments, and what are the current challenges for journalism and the right access to information. In addition, attendees were trained on the potential of Wikimedia and its tools as key allies to counteract the effects of the phenomenon. 

The second meeting was attended by professionals from the Innovation Center of the Ministry of Education of Chile, the technology company Google, and the College of Journalists of Chile. The meeting, which was moderated by Wikimedia Chile, sought to highlight the role of Digital and Media Literacy in the new complexities of the information and digital ecosystem, where misinformation and critical use of technologies emerge as the main challenges.

“Community is how we grow, technology is how we shine, advocacy is how we survive”: why these conversations should matter to us

Throughout the days of the Wiki Advocacy meeting, multiple conversations arose regarding the current state of the Wikimedia movement in terms of public policy advocacy actions: where we are acting, what are the threats that, from different territories and countries, could affect our mission and our sustainability, what are the most urgent challenges for the movement, and what skills, strategies and capacities we need at this moment to take care of them.

These are some of the conclusions we reached:

  •  We must defend our role in today’s Internet: If 20 years ago the Internet was built as a space to expand knowledge, strengthen connections, and a support for democracy and freedom of expression, today the vision seems to be the opposite: issues such as protectionism, censorship, and content regulation are trends when talking about Internet governance. Wikimedia is the last space where the original spirit of the Internet remains alive, and where human rights are still at the center.  
  • We must spread the word: we consider the need to approach the spaces of power, decision-makers and legislative bodies in our respective territories, to explain how the Wikimedia model of free knowledge on the Internet works and to raise awareness about the importance of freedom of expression and access to information as intransigent human rights for the welfare of democracies. 
  • More and better stories: It is important to build powerful narratives that allow us to tell the world what we do and why it is important for our movement to continue to exist.
  • Collaboration is key: we must identify, generate and strengthen alliances with civil society sectors and associations in our different territories that value our mission and help us move forward.

What remains to be done

To learn more about the results, urgencies, and needs in public policy advocacy issues that we identified after this 1st meeting, we invite you to participate in an upcoming virtual meeting on Tuesday, June 11 at 13:00 (UTC). Also, for those who wish to learn more about these conversations, we invite you to join the Telegram chat, and be part of the group that today is working to strengthen the Wiki Advocacy network around the world.

For more information about the 1st Wiki Advocacy Meetup, we invite you to visit the Meta page and check the category on Wikimedia Commons: Wiki Advocacy Meetup 2024.

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