Editing Wikimedia UK Strategy 2019–22

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===3. Summary of External Environment===
 
===3. Summary of External Environment===
As part of the development of any strategy it’s imperative to consider how our activities, reach and impact will be influenced and informed by environmental factors - including political and economic issues, legislative changes, social and cultural issues as well as advances in science and technology. However, it’s not always possible to know what is around the corner and to plan for it. At the time of writing our 2016 - 2019 plan we could not have known the result of the EU Referendum in June 2016, the outcome of the Presidential election later that year, or that the #MeToo movement would gain such momentum. Similarly, when we reviewed the landscape as part of our development work for the creation of our 2019 - 2022 strategic framework, we did not imagine that 2020 would be dominated by a global pandemic, environmental catastrophes on an unprecedented scale, and worldwide protests about racism - underpinned, in the UK at least, by the ugly dual legacies of colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade. Given these developments, we decided to review and refresh this section of our three year strategy in Autumn 2020, roughly halfway through our current three year plan, to acknowledge these issues and to begin to explore how we can respond to them through our programmes.  
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The activities, reach and impact of Wikimedia UK are inevitably influenced and informed by our external environment, both here in the UK and globally. These factors within the external environment include political and economic issues, legislative changes, social issues as well as advances in science and technology. Environmental issues are also likely to become increasingly prominent, as the movement gains ground at a political and consumer level, and climate activism becomes more mainstream. Within the Wikimedia movement itself, the past three years has seen the development of a new strategic direction to 2030 which will also impact significantly upon the UK programme and organisation over the next three years and beyond.  
  
Within the original framing of our three year strategy from 2019 - 2022, we stated that the global open knowledge movement stands for fundamental principles of equality, intellectual freedom and freedom of expression, and stands against discrimination, hate speech, censorship and the enclosure of knowledge. Worldwide, we said, we must be prepared to defend these principles against the rising tide of the politics of inequality, separation, exclusion and polarisation – and our strategy set out how Wikimedia UK would play our role in this global defence of our shared values. We weren’t to know, of course, that a global pandemic was about to play out that would deepen inequalities and increase misinformation; or that the murder of George Floyd and other instances of police brutality would shine a light on systemic racism everywhere, and serve to propel the Black Lives Matter movement into the mainstream consciousness. Within this context, Wikimedia UK’s commitment to knowledge equity becomes even more important, as is the need to develop this work in a way that is genuinely inclusive and explicitly anti-racist. Our work with partners and allies to help combat misinformation and develop media and information literacy skills has also become more urgent.
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The global open knowledge movement stands for fundamental principles of equality, intellectual freedom and freedom of expression. We stand against discrimination, hate speech, censorship and the enclosure of knowledge. Worldwide, we must be prepared to defend these principles against the rising tide of the politics of inequality, separation, exclusion and polarisation. Our strategy sets out how Wikimedia UK will play our role in this global defence of our shared values.  
  
In 2019, we noted the increased likelihood of a global economic downturn, with contributing factors including the fallout from Brexit and the trade war between the US and China. In reality, we are living through the worst economic catastrophe in living memory, the recovery from which will be long and painful. The impact of this on our partners, funders, supporters and volunteers is not yet fully known but is likely to be very significant, and funding pressures within our own organisation and the wider voluntary sector are likely to become ever more acute over the next few years. This makes the ability to articulate what Wikimedia UK is for, and the need that we are meeting, even more imperative.
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The three years covered by our previous strategy were marked by high levels of political turmoil. At the time of writing our 2016 - 2019 plan we could not have anticipated the outcome of the EU Referendum in June 2016. Three years later, Brexit has proved to be a highly divisive and intractable issue that is dominating the political and cultural conversation. Whatever form the UK’s exit from the EU takes, it will have far reaching implications for the UK’s economy, international influence, society and legislative agenda for decades. This includes the possibility of another referendum for an independent Scotland and the potential dissolution of the United Kingdom, which would obviously impact significantly on Wikimedia UK. The next few years are therefore likely to be increasingly volatile, with economic uncertainty, rising political tensions, and possibly even civil unrest.  
  
Of course, even without the events highlighted above, the past couple of years have already been marked by political turmoil, with Brexit proving to be a highly divisive and intractable issue that has dominated the political and cultural conversation. The UK’s exit from the EU will have far reaching implications for the country's economy, international influence, society and legislative agenda for decades, as well as for the integrity of the Union itself. Of particular interest and concern for Wikimedia UK is what happens in terms of copyright, particularly following the government’s decision not to transpose the EU Copyright Directive into UK law. More broadly, we are seeing increased censorship and the re-enclosure of information from both government and market forces in the UK and world-wide. In a world that is lurching towards the marketisation of knowledge, Wikimedia’s role as a bastion for open knowledge is critical.  
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The fractured nature of society in the UK is, unfortunately, echoed in other parts of the world. We are seeing rising populism and the election of far right leaders who threaten to undermine democratic processes; with increasingly polarised views within wider society being reinforced by, and in some cases driven by disinformation. The democratisation of content production - whilst intrinsically a good thing - has arguably led to a rapid increase in misinformation, with social media networks proving to be the perfect blue touch paper for ‘fake news’.  
  
Conversely, and much more positively, during 2020 we have seen an increasing awareness of the value of open knowledge, with many cultural and educational institutions making digital content available for free in response to the shutdown. Crucially, several major funders in the UK have made significant moves to support the sharing of research and other outputs this year, with the National Lottery Heritage Fund announcing a new Open Licensing Policy in September 2020 and UK Research and Innovation due to launch its new Open Access Policy in November. The shift to remote working prompted by the pandemic has created opportunities for Wikimedia UK to connect with new audiences and participants, and increased the accessibility of our programme. But digital exclusion remains an issue both at a global level and more locally within the UK. Despite the use of digital technologies becoming even more of a necessity within the context of Covid-19, millions of people still don’t have internet access, with the elderly and disabled most likely to be excluded. For those who are online, there are still barriers to accessing free and open knowledge and information, with UNESCO’s sustainable development goal on education underlining the continued need for Open Educational Resources. There is a significant role for Wikimedia in addressing these sociocultural challenges, and in supporting schools in the UK and beyond to deliver high quality blended and online learning.  
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Wikimedia can play an important role in combating these issues, and in developing the information and media literacy skills that are becoming increasingly fundamental to democratic engagement and a well functioning civil society. However, we also have to ensure that our own platform has safeguards in place relating to misinformation and disinformation, and we need to address the issue of harassment which threatens to undermine our work to improve diversity and equality on Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia projects.  
  
Given all of the above, the Wikimedia movement’s role in opening up knowledge is more important than ever before. However, it’s essential that issues of diversity, equality and representation feature highly when prioritising the creation of new content on Wikimedia. The drive towards knowledge equity within the global movement strategy resonates with an increasing awareness amongst UK content holders of the need to represent diverse stories and histories. In our work with world-leading cultural and educational institutions - who are often the gatekeepers of this knowledge - we have a crucial role to play in opening up and sharing content, and in supporting the decolonisation of collections and curricula. We also need to recognise and address our own blind spots in terms of equity, diversity and inclusion, and ensure that we are facilitating participatory and inclusive approaches to the creation and sharing of the sum of all knowledge.  
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The Government’s White Paper on Online Harms, published in April 2019 as a joint initiative between DCMS and the Home Office in response to the threat to democracy that online misinformation and abuse represents, proposes a regulatory framework that includes Wikipedia in its scope. Whilst this could impact on the way in which Wikimedia is able to operate in the UK, the White Paper also outlines plans for the development of a new Government-led media and information literacy strategy, which our own work promoting digital literacy skills could potentially support and inform.
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There are more immediate threats in terms of public policy which may have a bearing on the conditions for open knowledge. These include the implementation of the EU copyright directive, including the controversial Articles 11 and 13 (Articles 15 and 17 in the final directive) and the potential dismantling of certain elements of the e-Commerce Directive during the process of converting EU to domestic law. More broadly, rather than seeing a linear progression towards more open knowledge, we are instead seeing increased censorship and the re-enclosure of information from both government and market forces in the UK and world-wide.
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Digital exclusion remains an issue both at a global level and more locally within the UK, where despite the use of digital technologies becoming mainstream, millions of people still don’t have internet access; with the elderly and disabled more likely to be excluded. For those who are online, there are still barriers to accessing free and open knowledge and information, with UNESCO’s sustainable development goal on education underlining the continued need for Open Educational Resources, particularly in less developed parts of the world. Our work therefore closely overlaps with the open access agenda, which in turn is a crucial factor in developing social equality.
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Given all of the above, the Wikimedia movement’s role in opening up knowledge is arguably more important than ever before. However, it’s essential that issues of diversity, equality and representation feature highly when prioritising the creation of new content on Wikimedia. The drive towards knowledge equity in the global strategic direction resonates with an increasing awareness amongst UK content holders of the need to represent diverse stories and histories. In our work with world-leading cultural and educational institutions - who are often the gatekeepers of this knowledge - we have a crucial role to play in opening up and sharing content, and in supporting the decolonisation of collections and curricula. Minority and indigenous languages are a significant part of this agenda, with Wikimedia UK seen as one of the experts in this area through our critical role in the Celtic Knot conferences.
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From a financial perspective, the likelihood of a global economic downturn - with contributing factors including the fallout from Brexit and the trade war between the US and China - is increasing. Even without this, funding pressures within our own organisation and the wider voluntary sector are likely to become more acute over the lifetime of this plan. This makes the ability to articulate what Wikimedia UK is for, and the need that we are meeting, even more imperative.  
  
 
===4. Strategic Framework for 2019–2022===
 
===4. Strategic Framework for 2019–2022===

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