End of year message from our CEO

by Antonio Zappulla - CEO, Thomson Reuters Foundation
Wednesday, 14 December 2022 16:25 GMT

This has been quite a year. As I reflect on the Foundation’s activities during 2022, I am struck by how much has been achieved in so short a space of time. The world has changed dramatically over the past 12 months - and so too has our work evolved to respond to some of the new global challenges that we all face.

This truly has been one of the busiest years in the organisation’s history, and I’m so proud of all we have done – powered by the twin engines of the media in the law – within our three areas of focus: advancing media freedom, fostering more inclusive economies and promoting human rights.

Media freedom and socio-economic inclusion go hand in hand. By strengthening the ecosystem for both to thrive, the Foundation works to protect free, fair and informed societies. This work has perhaps never seemed so relevant, nor more acutely needed, than in a year defined by the invasion of Ukraine, deepening socio-economic inequalities, the intensifying climate emergency, and surging threats to a free press all over the world. It has been a true privilege to harness our innovation, expertise and global reach in a way that can meaningfully impact those who are hit hardest by these interconnected global crises.

The past year’s sobering world events have driven us to develop services, tools and resources at an unprecedented pace and scale, working in partnership with so many of you. We are deeply grateful for your collaboration and commitment. Amongst the many innovative projects that I could mention, I wanted to share a few highlights:

This year saw the successful launch of one of the Foundation’s most ambitious projects to date, Context, our new media platform covering three of the most significant and interdependent issues of our time: climate change, the impact of technology on society, and socio-economic inclusion. Context provides insight and analysis from our global news team into both news-led and original stories, allowing readers to contextualise how critical issues and events affect ordinary people, society, and the environment. With the tagline ‘Know better. Do better.’, Context aims to inspire our audience of purpose-driven professionals to look at the human and environmental impact of big news stories. If you haven’t already done so, do check it out, sign up to our newsletters or listen to our newly-launched Just Transition podcast series.

The Foundation’s work on the social component of ESG has continued to grow since the publication of its Amplifying the ‘S’ in ESG: Investor Myth Buster white paper in 2021. This year, we hosted multiple convenings and trainings of key stakeholders all over the world to drive solutions towards fostering more responsible and sustainable business practices. Our projects have included a programme aimed at combatting modern slavery and human trafficking through ecosystem support in Thailand, India, Malaysia, and Colombia through convenings in all four countries, as well as journalism training on supply chain accountability. We also partnered with Laudes Foundation to raise awareness of the connection between climate, inequality and labour rights, as part of which the Foundation trained CSOs and journalists across India and published an investigative piece on the labour rights abuses in Brazil’s ethanol supply chains.

And in an exciting development, the Foundation was selected to host the Secretariat for the Media Freedom Coalition (MFC), via a grant from the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office. The MFC is a partnership of more than 50 governments working together to promote media freedom through public and private diplomacy, legal reforms, and supporting journalists at risk. This has been a highlight of our work in the media freedom space in 2022; the Secretariat benefits from our extensive networks and connections, while we have been able to build government-level relationships and strengthen visibility of relevant media freedom issues, allowing us to adapt our strategy and programming.

The culmination of all of our activities this year was our annual human rights forum Trust Conference. The conference was one of our most successful ever, taking place once again in-person in October. It was an extraordinary two-day event, attended by more than 600 people from all over the world passionately committed to working in the media freedom, inclusive economies and human rights spaces. Highlights included Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s powerful keynote speech, which earned a standing ovation of several minutes, Nobel Laureate and Editor-in Chief of Novaya Gazeta Dmitry Muratov’s opening speech on the first day, Climate Activist Vanessa Nakate’s opening speech on the second day which foreshadowed many of the themes then explored in COP27, an incredible presentation by Reuters photojournalist Alkis Konstantinidis, demonstrating the power of visually-led reporting during the Russia-Ukraine war, and panel discussions ranging from legal trends hampering media freedom, to progress and setbacks around the shift to greener economies.

I’m pleased to share with you the video recordings of each session from Day 1 and Day 2 of Trust Conference. You can also view our highlights video if you haven’t yet seen it.

We have truly ended the year on a high with a conference that so aptly encapsulates the ethos and focus of our work at the Thomson Reuters Foundation and demonstrates what can be achieved when collaboration and passion drive that work. Our successes are testament to the skill, commitment, and professionalism of the Thomson Reuters Foundation team, and to the valued partnerships with you all. I’m so grateful for both, and I look forward to continuing to work with you all. I genuinely cannot wait to see what next year brings.

Let me to take this opportunity to thank you for your interest and support in our work, and to wish you all a wonderful holiday season.

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