|Global Forum for Media Development convenes in Athens to shine a light in dark times
News from the Field, 6 February 2009
A free, independent, viable and inclusive media is essential to the quality of democracy and to respect for human rights. The Global Forum for Media Development World Conference in Athens on December 7-10, 2008, under the heading of "Quality Information for All", was yet another important UNDEF project promoting democracy through media development.
The Global Forum groups some of the world's leading media development agencies, ranging from organizations with international scope such as, BBC World Service Trust or Internews to national media assistance groups such as the Free Media Movement in Sri Lanka and the Media Rights Agenda in Nigeria. "The Athens Forum meets in dark times," said David Hoffman, GFMD Chairman. "These are times when people need media to shine a light that can help them overcome the ignorance, prejudice and fear which undermine conditions for economic development and democracy."
With 480 participants from 105 countries, the World Conference exceeded expectations. Some 10 plenary and panel discussions featured representatives from international organizations, and 30 workshops gave participants the chance for in-depth discussions building partnerships.
Prior to the conference, regional meetings were held in Colombia (Latin America and Caribbean), France (Eurasia), Sri Lanka (Asia), South Africa (Africa) and Lebanon (MENA). During the consultation process, the GFMD secretariat established contact with some 600 media assistance groups from around the world. The following themes were developed through the regional conferences, the GFMD Steering Committee and input from the organizations contacted: