GFMD exists as a knowledge platform for the global media development community, where we leverage multi-sectoral expertise to provide the most current and practical knowledge and experience to our network. Together with over 200 members and partners working across more than 70 countries, we act together to support journalism and media through collaboration, knowledge exchange, and advocacy, and seek to foster viable and independent journalism, greater transparency, and more pluralistic media environments. Our organisational strategy is rooted in the following aims:

  • To provide an international forum for the discussion of ideas, information, and strategies in to support and develop the field of journalism and media worldwide.
  • To facilitate communication between and among our members through the support of the GFMD secretariat.
  • To create a platform for journalism support and media development practitioners to interact with donors, governments, opinion leaders, and the wider public in order to advocate for media development as a primary pillar for advancing social, economic, and political development.
  • To promote and disseminate research and analysis on the impact of media development assistance on governance, civic participation, poverty alleviation, access to information, emergent crises, and information markets worldwide.
  • To promote the establishment of common standards and ethics for media development work that encourages cross-sector cooperation and collaboration.
  • To advance best practice methods in the media development sector.

2019 GFMD Year in Review

This past year was filled with positive developments, ranging from expanding our services and offering even more opportunities to our members and partners, to facilitating dialogue between our network and donors in order to better serve the GFMD community. Some highlights from 2019 include:

  • Welcoming 10 new members into the GFMD network

  • Co-organising and participating in multiple meetings with donors and governments regarding media sustainability

  • Advising the Department for International Development (DFID) and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on the Global Conference on Media Freedom, and securing as well as participating in a panel on media sustainability

  • Joining the Global Network Initiative (GNI)

  • Meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern about journalism and news media perspectives on violent and extremist content (CVE) online, and joining the Christchurch Call Advisory Network

  • Launching the Dynamic Coalition on the Sustainability of Journalism and News Media (DC-Sustainability) within the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

  • Organising events and coordinating our network’s engagement at the 63rd UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63)

  • Organising events and coordinating our network’s engagement at the 2019 High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), along with launching a joint report on the state of public Access to Information (ATI) in 10 countries

  • Officially joining the Freedom of Information Advocates Network (FOIAnet) and the Transparency, Accountability, and Participation for the 2030 Agenda (TAP) Network

  • Launching our members-only webinar series

  • Commissioning research on Recipient Perceptions of Media Development Assistance, facilitating a working meeting on the potential establishment of a fund for investigative reporting, and launching a GFMD community consultation on the International Fund for Public Interest Media along with supporting the fund’s feasibility study

  • Co-organising sessions with our members at World Press Freedom Day (WPFD), RightsCon Tunis 2019, and the European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG)

  • Coordinating a joint advocacy strategy with our members and partners in the EU

Read our previous Annual Reports from 2017 and 2018

GFMD Engagement Areas

In order to better inform governments and the private sector about content takedowns related to violent, extremist, and terroristic content, we joined the Christchurch Call Advisory Network in August 2019. Launched by the Governments of New Zealand and France, the network consists of civil society and academic representatives who seek to provide concrete and robust human rights-based insight and critical expertise into the Christchurch Call process.

In June 2019, we officially became an NGO member of the Global Network Initiative (GNI) – an international network working to protect and advance freedom of expression and privacy in the information and communications technology (ICT) industry by setting a global standard for responsible company decision-making and by being a leading voice for freedom of expression and privacy rights.

On 24 July 2018, we were formally granted special consultative status by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). UN consultative status makes it easier for us and our member organisations to participate in UN processes and apply for as well as receive project funding at the local, regional, and global levels from UN agencies, grant-making initiatives, and donor countries. For more information, see our profile on the ECOSOC NGO Branch’s website.

We are a key member of the United for News Coalition, an initiative led by Internews in collaboration with the World Economic Forum (WEF). It aims to strengthen high-quality, local news and information so that citizens, communities, local businesses, and governments around the world can best address the effects of digital media on local news viability, media sustainably, and the propagation of disinformation and misinformation.

We are also part of  the Safety of Journalists (SoJ) Coalition, Design 4 Democracy Coalition (D4D), the Freedom of Information Advocates Network (FOIAnet), and the Transparency, Accountability, and Participation for the 2030 Agenda (TAP) Network, in addition to collaborating with the Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI).

In 2016, we organised the World Forum for Media Development, a flagship event hosted by GFMD every four years, in Jakarta, Indonesia. Held under the theme “Decoding the Future: Rethinking Media for a New World,” the forum set out to share best practices, new technologies, and practical research as well as sought solutions for common challenges faced by the media development community. More than 220 international delegates and over 100 Indonesian delegates attended the Forum, which included representatives from all key media development agencies worldwide.

Drawing on the input of more than 50 Syrian professionals and international media development organisations, we released a comprehensive set of recommendations for donors, implementers, and Syrian media, summarised in the report: “A Call for Effective Support to Syrian Independent Media as a Key Component in Mitigating and Resolving the Syrian Conflict” (Arabic | English).

We produced an advocacy toolkit with multilingual resources for local NGOs to lobby governments and the public about how media matters in development.

Other achievements


The GFMD actively collaborates with the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), such as on a project that sought to include targets on freedom of expression and access to information on the post-2015 global Sustainable Development Agenda. As part of these collaborations, we have assisted UNESCO during the preparations for its annual event, World Press Freedom Day, as well as actively participated as speakers and session organisers. Moreover, we jointly proposed specific language and indicators about freedom of expression and access to information to the UN Open Working Group. GFMD members also contributed to the production of the UNESCO report about World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development.

Media policy & advocacy

Informing government officials and advising policy-makers about media policy in collaboration with our members and partners is one of our key activities. With our secretariat based in Brussels, Belgium, GFMD actively participates in European Union processes and policy-making. Such engagement includes organising parliamentary sessions on media and development-related issues, advising about EU policy in non-member countries, and providing feedback and consultation on EU initiatives such as the EU Freedom of Expression Guidelines, which serves as a practical guide all EU delegations and member state foreign ministries on how to address freedom of expression violations and support free media in developing countries. We are also a referent for the EU on media assistance and freedom of information activities. In addition to contributing to policy, we also lead advocacy efforts in support of journalism, media pluralism, press freedom, democracy, and more. A notable example including leading a campaign in 2018 with 23 of our member organisations to draft a joint letter urging the EU to ensure stable funding for human rights and democracy globally as well as for journalism and media pluralism in Europe within its Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2021-2027.

Outside of the EU, we have also worked on policy and advocacy projects with our members, such as when we co-hosted a summit for Latin America on media development needs in 2015. Lastly, between the GFMD Secretariat and our members, we are represented at myriad international forums, including the WEF, United Nations, World Bank, World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), Internet Government Forum (IGF), and more.

UN Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda

GFMD played a central role in advocating for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to include governance goal inclusive of the role of independent media, access to information, and freedom of expression. GFMD engaged at multiple levels to achieve this goal. We developed communications material and an advocacy toolkit to empower local organizations in the Global South to lobby their governments. After the first stages, GFMD UN representative Bill Orme lobbied hard and worked with other stakeholders to make access to information a global development goal. As part of this agenda, we also organised forums that took place in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2014 and 2015.

In September 2015, the UN General Assembly approved the SDGs, which includes target 16.10 seeking to “ensure public access to information and respect of fundamental freedoms.” This is the biggest success of our policy efforts to date that will benefit all members in the coming 15 years. Its success also led us to convene a working group with the support of UNESCO, the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA), and ARTICLE 19 to develop measurable targets and indicators for access to information, freedom of expression, and media development in the framework of the SDGs. The group, an alliance of organisations that included the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), BBC Media Action, Internews, IREX, the World Wide Web Foundation, CIVICUS, and UNESCO, agreed on a common approach, and a UNESCO conference urged the United Nations to include freedom of expression in its post-2015 development goals.


We have also participated in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) processes. A notable example occurred in 2014 and 2015 when we engaged with governments that shape development policy and funding strategies. Together with BBC Media Action, DW Akademie, and CIMA, we jointly contributed to the OECD-GOVNET group on the role of media in transparency and accountability at the Global Partnership on Aid Effectiveness.

Coordination & Research Projects

Syria coordination

In 2013, GFMD launched an international coordination meeting on media development efforts in Syria in collaboration with three of our members: International Media Support (IMS), Free Press Unlimited (FPU), and IREX. The first working conference identified gaps and needs in support to media in Syria. The efforts around Syria led to the production of a GFMD White Paper for Syrian Media Assistance. Also several international organisations have combined efforts around audience research that led to a media landscape survey in 2016. Cooperation at the level of individual members of the group resulted in the coordinated emergency support efforts of the Syria Response Group and several joint media development initiatives.

Other coordination efforts

Since the success of our Syria coordination work, other organisations have actively sought GFMD as a partner for coordination. Notably, media groups collaborated on a project regarding the electoral conflict in Burundi, as well as the assistance efforts requested by Yemen media stakeholders. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and GFMD co-organised a public solidarity meeting for Yemeni media in Brussels that was attended by various members, partners, and government officials. Furthermore, a consultation co-organised by UNESCO, IFJ, and GFMD in collaboration with international organisations and Yemeni stakeholders took place in 2016 in Jordan, which produced an action plan for journalists in Yemen.

Research & Studies

GFMD was part of a consortium studying Internet censorship in relation to human rights for the European Commission (ECSA). The study advised the European Commission on investments into human rights and digital technology. GFMD also became part of the INFOCORE consortium that is studying media in conflict, which enabled GFMD to be part of new networks where research and study of relevant subjects takes place, and also participate in the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR).

GFMD’s 15th Anniversary

On October 1, 2020, GFMD celebrated its 15th anniversary. In advance of the occasion, GFMD’s past and present chairpersons, directors, and UN representatives spoke about the organisation and all that it has achieved since 2005.