The Global Forum for Media Development is a network of more than 180 media assistance groups from around the world with active members in some 100 countries. Its members have a common goal: to foster free, professional and plural media that lead to more open societies, transparent and accountable governments, and enhanced freedom of expression.
GFMD was founded in 2005 in Amman. Since then, it has established a strong membership and succeeded in engaging all major media development organisations, large and small, national and international, regional and national. It has successfully advocated for the inclusion of Access to Information in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, and developed a series of strong initiatives at the international and country levels.
GFMD for example coordinated needs assessment among local media actors in Syria, provided policy advice for donors and increased the added value and impact of development aid for Syrian media. Additionally, GFMD organised four major World Forum conferences to discuss the challenges for media development at the world stage, in 2005 in Amman, 2008 in Athens, 2012 in Grahamstown and 2016 in Jakarta.
Since its establishment, GFMD embraced the principle of equality among members from different parts of the world in its constitution, work ethics, and objectives. It is a democratically governed network, in which regional diversity, local expertise and autonomy of the members are deeply rooted principles. The members of GFMD cooperate in the work that needs to be done by engaging each other in developing the agenda for GFMD activities using collaborative needs and priority assessment through the regional caucuses and individual members at the country level.
The GFMD secretariat plans its activities in close cooperation and dialogue with the major international media development network members so as to ensure that the most relevant media development groups are present and assist in, co-organise and participate in the various media policy and coordination activities. This dual integration ensures the impact of GFMD’s activities and reinforces the evidence-based approach as well as the local ownership of GFMD’s actions.
The work method and bottom-up approach are the channels through which grassroots’ needs and priorities are integrated into GFMD’s agenda and local media benefit from the network. At the same time it helps the delivery of valuable inputs to stakeholders at the international, regional and local levels. Consequently, more than 180 media development organizations in the GFMD network have access to and participate in media policy development, benefit from research and share knowledge. They also have access to GMFD’s network of international partners, donors and development policymakers through the secretariat.
International multilateral organizations (OECD, World Bank, United Nations Agencies, the AU, OAS, EU, ASEAN and others) and national actors such as regulatory agencies, as well as the media industry can therefore improve their policies and strategies and benefit from having a representative body of media development organizations with expertise and a strong network throughout the developed and developing world. GFMD and its members provide feedback, highlight standards and ethics and help target key development issues that the multilateral actors care about.