The BBC World Service Trust has a small Policy and Thematic team based in London working both internationally and at country level. We aim to provide specialist input into global thinking and debates on the role of media and communications in development.
Our work includes policy briefs that are designed to inform and influence decision-makers on key issues, debates that explore and engage listeners around the world on policy issues, and ongoing work with other development actors to better position media within governance and development programmes.
Our major, multi-year programme is the Policy and Research Programme on the Role of Media and Communications in Development, funded by the UK Department for International Development. This programme is focused on governance issues and works across six key areas:
Governance and accountability
Our policy work on governance puts the citizen at the centre of governance debates. We look at media, communication and information-related policies to determine what strategies and approaches can enhance governance and enable citizens to hold officials to account.
Our policy work is grounded in more than 10 years of programmatic and research experience of delivering governance projects working with national governments, media institutions and journalists. Read more about our governance projects
Media and development: a policy priority
Media should be a stronger priority in development strategies, says an independent policy opinion survey from the BBC World Service Trust. Read more
Media and good governance: A DFID practice paper
DFID’s briefing paper on media and good governance was produced by the BBC World Service Trust Policy Team in collaboration with DFID’s Politics and the State Team. Read the briefing
Ditchley collaborates with BBC WST on media and democracy conference
Fragile states – those that are unable to effectively govern and provide core functions to citizens – pose a growing challenge to the development community and the world at large. Our policy work in this area looks at the implications of state fragility on democracy from the perspective of citizens. It examines the role of media and communications in exacerbating or undermining fragility under certain conditions, and aims to build knowledge and evidence on the impact of specific policies in different contexts.
Media and democracy in fragile states
A joint report with the UK-based Institute of Development Studies is designed to contribute to a more serious and robust research agenda. Read more
Elections are a critical component of functioning democracies, but they should not be treated as one-off events. We are working with electoral organisations such as International IDEA
to improve understanding of and support to media as a critical component of electoral support. We advocate sustained support not just around electoral periods, but throughout the electoral cycle.
In March 2010 the BBC World Service Trust and International IDEA jointly convened a workshop on support to media as a component of electoral support. The workshop brought together donors, electoral and media support organisations and academics to critically examine the issues involved. Download the full report
of the workshop or a summary
of the key recommendations.
The role of media in the Kenya 2007 elections
Despite a vote count that was considered flawed by both national and international observers, Mwai Kibaki was sworn in as President of Kenya on 30 December, 2007. Soon after, smoke could be seen rising from Kibera, the biggest slum in Africa. Within six weeks, more than a thousand people had been killed and over 500,000 had fled. Read more
Re-assessing media and elections priorities
In 2005 ministers, heads of international development agencies and other senior officials committed to increasing the effectiveness of international aid through a more harmonised and better managed approach. This commitment was formalised in the Paris Declaration and has subsequently been built on with the Accra Agenda for Action in 2008.
Transparency and the availability of information that enables citizens to hold officials to account are critical components of the aid effectiveness agenda. We are working with transparency and intergovernmental organisations to ensure that the role of the media is better understood and more effectively supported in this area, and that key policy findings are effectively integrated into our own programme of work on governance.
We are working with the OECD-DAC’s Governance Network
to develop principles on support to media as a critical component of domestic accountability strategies.
How to use communication to make aid effective
The BBC WST has collaborated with the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) to develop strategies and principles for integrating communications with programme-based approaches. Read the report
Investing in Africa: what's working?
The Accra High Level Forum (2-4 September 2008), a landmark summit on aid effectiveness, provided the setting and subject for the latest BBC World Debate Read more
Our policy work on humanitarian communication is based on substantial experience providing lifeline programming in Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Burma, and most recently Haiti (among many others). We have advocated for communications with populations affected by disasters as a central and critical component of humanitarian preparedness, response and recovery efforts, and therefore a key policy issue for both providers and recipients of aid.
In 2009 we became a founding member of CDAC – Communicating with Disaster Affected Communities
- an interagency working group which draws together leading relief, development and media agencies to maximise aid effectiveness in emergencies. We are also working to develop stronger policies and practices to deliver more effective humanitarian aid, in partnership with Internews
and humanitarian aid agencies.
Left in the dark: The unmet need for information in emergency response
In today’s media-rich world, many of the planet’s poorest still lack access to potentially life-saving information. Read more
Left in the dark points to critical information gaps in emergency responses
Disaster affected communities can and should be architects of their own recovery, not merely passive recipients of international goodwill, according to Imogen Wall, co-author of the policy brief “Left in the Dark”. Read Imogen’s blog post on the issue
Strong communications policies are critical to tackling climate change in the developing world. In 2009-10 one of our flagship research and communications projects – Africa Talks Climate
– identified a raft of communication challenges that must be addressed in order to engage with and support the people most directly impacted by global climate change. The recommendations are intended as a first step in developing long-term strategies for sharing information about climate change.
Africa Talks Climate: exposing the information gap on climate change
African citizens are those most affected, yet least informed about global climate change, argues a policy briefing by the BBC World Service Trust. Read more
Raila Odinga: "Africa Talks Climate is relevant and significant now"
Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga joins Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai at the launch of Africa Talks Climate
in Kenya. Read more
Countdown to Copenhagen: Bridging the development divide
The BBC WST joined forces with BBC World News to broadcast a special edition of The World Debate in the lead up to the UN climate change summit in Copenhagen. Read more