This page provides an overview of Wikimedia and outlines potential areas of collaboration between UN agencies and delegations and Wikimedia with examples. There are many possible areas of collaboration centered around sharing knowledge and content.
Education is essential to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and has its own dedicated Goal, to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” Wikimedia sites including Wikipedia receive 15 billion page views per month from 500 million people and are some of the most used educational resources in the world.
Education is both a goal in itself and a means for attaining all the other SDGs. It is not only an integral part of sustainable development, but also a key enabler for it. That is why education represents an essential strategy in the pursuit of the SDGs.
Wikipedia is written by 100,000 volunteers working together and is supported by charities and has less than 1000 staff worldwide. Wikipedia is one of several projects created by the Wikimedia movement whose mission is to make the sum of human knowledge freely available to all, it does this through several websites including:
|Wikipedia: the most popular encyclopaedia in the world, written by 10,000s of volunteers, it has over 40 million articles, available across 299 languages.|
|Wikidata: a free, structured, multilingual database of facts. It holds information on over 40 million concepts, it can be read and edited by both humans and machines.|
|Wikimedia Commons: a repository of over 40 million free photographs, diagrams, maps, videos, animations, music, sounds, spoken texts, and other free media, available in many languages.|
|Wikivoyage: a worldwide travel guide written by volunteers in the same spirit of sharing knowledge that makes travel so enjoyable.|
|Wikisource: a multilingual project to collect free and open license texts.|
Wikipedia is one of the most used educational resources in the world, it has 50 million articles across 300 languages, which are read 20 billion times a month by 500 million people. Wikipedia also provides information through Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa and other third party services. Wikipedia is not just an encyclopedia: it’s network of sites also includes a media repository, a database, a dictionary which supports a wide variety of content. They have become an important part of many people's education. It is available through zero rated services including Facebook Free Basics and Wikipedia Zero and is available offline on mobile phones, tablets, PCs and wifi hotspots through Kiwix. It is also used by Youtube, Facebook and others to combat fake news and disinformation.
“By 'open access' to the literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself."
Open licensing/Open Access is achieved through open licenses, Wikimedia projects use content available under the following licenses:
Licenses with non commercial or no derivative clauses are not accepted by Wikimedia projects. UN agencies and other IGOs are able to use a specific set of Creative Commons licenses for Intergovernmental Organisations.
Wikimedia is a decentralised movement, consisting of organisations and indiviudal volunteers:
|Wikimedia Foundation: provides support for Wikipedia and other projects, and works to create or improve access to information around the world.|
|Wikimedia Chapters and User Groups: are independent organizations founded to support and promote the Wikimedia projects in a specified geographical region (in most cases, a country).|
|Volunteers: the tens of thousands of contributors to Wikimedia projects come from many cultures and backgrounds but all share the common aim of bringing free educational content to the world.|
You can contact your local Wikimedia chapter or user group, you can also contact John Cummings, Wikimedian in Residence at UNESCO, J.Cummings(@)unesco.org.
Wikimedia has been collaborating with organisations in education, science, culture and many other areas for over 10 years. This list provides an overview of the kinds of projects which are possible with examples from UN agencies. A specific area of Wikimedia called Wikiproject United Nations has been set up to help all UN agencies share content and knowledge on Wikimedia projects.
- UNESCO produce a monthly report on the use of their public information which includes a section on Wikimedia (go to latest issues, click report, then section 3.4).
UN organisations and Wikimedia organisations have collaborated to produce work including:
- OHCHR, Wikimedia Argentina and the Wikimedia Foundation are working together to improve the quality and quantity of human rights content on Wikipedia. They are working to strengthen awareness of human rights and combat misinformation, to help people know their rights and claim them.
- UNESCO and Wikimedia Sweden are working on the FindingGLAMs project to create the first worldwide map of cultural heritage institutions.
- The Wikimedia Foundation is a partner in the EQUALS Global Partnership, a network to bridge the gender divide whose founding partners include United Nations University, ITU and UN Women.
- World Health Organization and the Wikimedia Foundation have a formal partnership focused on improving information related to COVID 19 on Wikimedia projects. Similarly, UNFPA and Wikimedia Sweden worked together to improve content on Covid-19 in relation to maternal health.
- Wikimedia Sverige has worked with OHCHR, UNFPA, UNESCO, ITU and UN Women to bridge the gender gap on Wikipedia, for example through the WikiGap campaign. This work has included organizing events and editathons, crowdsourcing names of missing articles, communicating via social media, and making content available on the platforms.
- UNESCO, Wikimedia Sweden and Wikimedia Italia produced a photography exhibition on cultural heritage at risk, displayed at United Nations Office at Geneva, UNESCO HQ in Paris and 10 other locations.
- The German Commission for UNESCO, Wikimedia Deutschland and the North Rhine-Westphalian Library Service Centre (HBZ) co-published Open Content A Practical Guide to Using Creative Commons Licences, a booklet providing practical guidelines for the use and application of open content licences.
Thousands of organisations have shared their content with a worldwide audience through Wikimedia projects, including though formal partnerships. Many organisations have unique content which improves the public's understanding of their areas of work. Tools are available to show where media from an organisation is displayed on across Wikimedia projects and the number of views for those pages.
- UNESCO has shared 4000 photographs, illustrations, graphics from publications, infographics and videos which receive over 10 million page views per month on Wikimedia projects including 50 different language versions of Wikipedia.
- OCHA has shared 250 maps which receive over 15 million page views per month on Wikimedia projects.
- WIPO has shared graphics from several publications on Wikimedia.
- FAO has shared graphics from publications which are seen around 850,000 times per month on Wikimedia projects.
Text available under an open license can often be added directly to Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects to improve articles and provide a new audience to the work.
- UNESCO: Open Access publication text has been added to over 200 Wikipedia articles, are read over 4 million times per month. For example the English Wikipedia article for Violent Extremism article is created entirely from text from two UNESCO publications and receives 80 views per day.
- Text from the WIPO publications Understanding Industrial Property and Understanding Copyright and Related Rights was used to create the English Wikipedia article Industrial property which was read over 12,000 times in 2017.
- Text from the FAO publication In brief, The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture, 2018 is used on English Wikipedia articles related to fishing and aquaculture which are read over 80,000 times per month.
Data can be added to graphs, maps and information boxes on Wikipedia. The data is linked and combined with other datasets making it more useful. From Wikipedia the data is used by Google search, Siri and many data visualisation services like Histropedia (e.g The Apollo missions) and Monumental (a built heritage explorer). There are also more technical tools like Wikidata Graph Builder, Wikidata Query Service which allow the user to query the data directly World Heritage sites.
- UNESCO has shared several datasets on Wikidata including World Heritage, Biosphere Reserves and data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics.
Wikimedia Commons holds over 50 million images, audio files and videos that can be used by anyone, including commercially. A guide has been developed in cooperation with UNESCO staff to help people people reuse the content.
- UNESCO has used images from Wikimedia on their social media channels to promote their projects.
Promoting Wikimedia activities encourages the production of educational content, free for everyone to use and benefit from.
- Since 2016 UNESCO has promoted Wiki Loves Africa, Wiki Loves Monuments and Wiki Loves Earth on their social media channel.
- The UN has promoted Wiki Loves Monuments on Twitter.
- UNESCO, UNFPA and UN Women supported efforts during the WikiGap campaign in 2021, to crowdsource names of women missing from Wikipedia via social media channels.
Events like editathons, competitions and expert meetings can support the creation of content on a specific subject and facilitate knowledge sharing between Wikimedia and the UN.
- The Her Story project works with UN Women, UNESCO and UN Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth and others to address the underrepresentation of women of Wikipedia. Events have been held in United Nations Headquarters in New York City as well as many local events including UN Women Arab States/North Africa.
- UNESCO ran Wiki4Women on International Womens Day 2018 and 2019 to bring attention to the gender gap on Wikipedia. Over 200 people attended both events including the Director General of UNESCO and ambassadors of several countries.
- UNESCO hosted a meeting of Wikimedia staff coordinating with the cultural sector in 2017.
- UNESCO ran a competition to use their images on Wikimedia projects, this lead to an increase from 1 million to 10 million page views per month.
Wikimedian in Residence is a role in which a Wikimedia editor accepts a placement with an institution to facilitate a close working relationship between the Wikimedia movement and the institution through a range of activities, both internal and public-facing. Wikipedians in Residence are usually financially compensated by the institution or by a Wikimedia chapter, but they may also be volunteers.
- UNESCO: John Cummings has been working as Wikimedian in Residence at UNESCO since 2015 to help UNESCO share its knowledge and content through Wikipedia.
- UNESCO: in 2017 Sandra Fauconnier worked with Dutch cultural institutions (Utrecht University Library, Zeeuws Archief and International Institute of Social History) that hold documents included in the Memory of the World register.
- UNDP: Commencing from Bobbyshabangu is working with UNDP in South Africa to help the country office share results and impact of the work they've done since 1994 through Wikipedia and an internal MediaWiki based Wiki.