Wikimedia and UNESCO team up to share the world’s culture

By John Cummings, Wikimedia volunteer I have been working with the Sector for External Relations and Public Information unit at The United … Continue reading “Wikimedia and UNESCO team up to share the world’s culture”

  • John Cummings
  • January 23, 2015

By John Cummings, Wikimedia volunteer

I have been working with the Sector for External Relations and Public Information unit at The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to make images from their archive available on Wikimedia Commons, the media site for all Wikimedia projects including Wikipedia.

Wikipedia is the most used educational resource in the world and the Wikimedia projects receive over 21 billion page views per month. This includes users from an amazing project called Wikipedia Zero which provides over 400 million people in 35 countries completely free access with no data charges to Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects on their mobile phones.


Mobile data costs are a significant barrier to internet usage. We created Wikipedia Zero so that everyone can access all the free knowledge on Wikipedia, even if they can’t afford the mobile data charges.

Wikipedia Zero


UNESCO shares many goals with the Wikimedia movement, together we can make available an amazing amount of the world’s significant cultural and educational material available to everyone on the planet – global content for a global audience.



In today’s increasingly diverse societies, UNESCO continues to accomplish every day its fundamental humanist mission to support people in understanding each other and working together to build lasting peace.

UNESCO: Learning to Live Together

UNESCO works to create inclusive knowledge societies and empower local communities by increasing access to and preservation and sharing of information and knowledge in all of UNESCO’s domains. Knowledge societies must build on four pillars: freedom of expression; universal access to information and knowledge; respect for cultural and linguistic diversity; and quality education for all.

UNESCO: Building Knowledge Societies



Knowledge should be free: Access to information empowers people to make rational decisions about their lives. We believe the ability to access information freely and without restrictions is a basic human right. Our vision requires that the educational materials we collect and create together be free for others to use and reuse. Our work also depends on free and open formats and technologies.

Share with every human being: The Wikimedia movement strives to include every single human being in our work by making our knowledge resources available and providing the venue for all people to share their knowledge. We prioritize efforts that empower disadvantaged and underrepresented communities, and that help overcome barriers to participation.

 Wikimedia Movement Strategic Plan Summary: What We Believe

Open knowledge for all: The vision of Wikimedia UK. We work to make as much open knowledge available as we can and remove barriers to access for as many people as possible. 

Wikimedia UK


I am currently applying for a Wikimedia Foundation grant to work as Wikimedian in Residence for UNESCO with the aims of moving further towards making open licensing the standard for scientific, cultural and educational organisations and engagement with Wikimedia common practice. During the residency I will:

You can read about and support the application here.

A full set of images can be seen on my grant application or at Wikimedia Commons in the category: Images from the archive of UNESCO. These images can be used by by anyone for any purpose using the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 IGO license.

You are free:

Under the following conditions:

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