What role will media development play in the UN's Post-2015 Development Agenda? Or will it even be included? A workshop conducted by DW Akademie and the Global Forum for Media Development explored possibilities.
"Post-2015" is the current catch phrase among experts, politicians and others active in the area of development cooperation. This year it was also the focus of the EU Commission's "European Development Days" (EDD) held in Brussels. EDD is the most important annual meeting between European development actors and partner countries. Some 5,000 international participants recently met to discuss the follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). DW Akademie was one of several media development organizations taking part in the conference.
What role - if any - will media development play in the UN's upcoming development framework? The workshop "Capturing the Potential of Media in the Post-2015 Process" held by DW Akademie and the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD) provided a platform for discussing possibilities. An expert committee established by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has already identified the right to freedom of expression, access to independent media and access to government data as important prerequisites for reaching the goal of good government and effective institutions.
Workshop panelist James Deane of BBC's Media Action, however, pointed to the diplomatic machinery that is currently working at full speed, ahead of the target date for final agreement on the agenda. This, he said, means there is no guarantee that media development will be included in the new development goals.
Jeanette Minnie, a media consultant from South Africa and head of the "Zambezi FoX" consultancy service, brought in an African perspective. Media development cooperation is not just an exercise, she said, but a component that is having a positive impact on African democratization processes. She quoted numerous examples given in current studies.
New development framework
"Open source is free speech!" said Douglas Arelllanes, tying in a digital perspective. Arellanes is associate director of the Czech non-profit organization, Sourcefabric. He believes that accessible and flexible source codes are an effective method for developing digital instruments that can contribute to transparency and accountability. Together with the Mozambique weekly newspaper @Verdade, for example, Sourcefabric developed a cell phone tool enabling Mozambique citizen journalists to give real-time reports on municipal elections.
The panelists' comments provided the starting point for a brainstorming session. Participants were divided into four groups to look at strategies ensuring that media is anchored in the upcoming global development framework. New links were explored including the link between the education sector and the development of media competence.
"The workshop was an important step towards ensuring that media support plays a part in the new development agenda", says Patrick Leusch workshop moderator and head of DW Akademie's International Cooperation division. Over the coming months the GMFD will be applying the workshop results towards this goal and DW Akademie - a member of the GMFD - will be actively supporting the process.