[FoME] Beitrag WCCD in Rome

mi andreas.mandler at googlemail.com
Do Nov 16 10:13:01 CET 2006

Liebe FoMe Liste,* *

* *

Mit dem Beitrag über den WCCD möchte ich einige Eindrücke von diesem
Kongress teilen – wie es bereits von Christoph Spurk begonnen wurde.

Mein Name ist Andreas Mandler, ich bin im Moment in der Communication for
Development Group der FAO in Rom als Volunteer beschäftigt. Mein fachliches
Interesse gilt den laendlichen Kommunikationsstrukturen und der Situation
der Medien in Zentralasien. Ausserdem beschaeftige ich mich mit dem Zustand
der nationalen landwirtschaftlichen Forschungseinrichtungen in Zentral- und
Osteuropa (inklusive des Kaukasus und Zentralasiens).

* *

*The first World Congress on Communication for Development (WCCD), October
25 – 27, 2006*

I am very thankful for Christoph Spurk's analysis of the WCCD. To his
remarks on the congress, I would like to give some additional impressions,
because I believe it is essential to further discuss the outcomes of the

As main achievements of the Congress I would consider:

- overall promotion and visibility of the role of communication in
development projects and initiatives

- intensified debate about the role of communication for development
(ComDev) among different development cooperation (DC) institutions

- the promotion of ComDev as a separate discipline inside the institutions
was strengthened

- the value added of use of ComDev in DC projects was shown through various
case studies and provided evidences (to a certain extend)

As main constraints I would consider:

- the lack of a common agreement on  a durable definition of ComDev

- scientific inputs/ papers were not given the proper space and attention
within the congress

- the lack of time to discuss the final document, which led to limited
participation in the debate and rather synthetic final recommendations.

The congress was jointly organised by FAO, the World Bank and the
Communication Initiative. Each organisation coordinated the preparation of a
thematic stream, which reflected the overall expertise of each of these
organisations in the particular domains addressed. It was the intention of
the congress to bring together academia, practitioners and policy-makers to
join the discussions related to 4 broad thematic areas: Communication in
Health, Communication in Good Governance, and Communication for Sustainable
Development. In addition, special events were also organized to cover other
relevant issues, such as indigenous people, sustainable tourism, avian flu

However, one must admit that the Congress seemed to be more focused on
decision- and policy makers than on the exchange of knowledge and
experiences among academicians and ComDev practitioners, whose contribution
was often marginalized.

While the focus was on policy and decision makers in order to convince them
for the extended need to mainstream ComDev into development polices and
programs, the actual definition of the subject and theoretical approaches
were mostly left aside. So the original

scientific approach turned in a political one.

Consequentially the congress journal announced the aim to endorse and
support the mainstreaming of the discipline ComDev.

Considering that, it becomes clear why there was more emphasis on
policymakers and decision-makers.

Even since the concept of the WCCD switched, I consider the reluctance of
the participants not to deal more with ComDev theories than they actually
did, as a sign for other priorities.

Also the practitioners used the WCCD as a place to express claims for the
political will to bring ComDev more into the centre of the DC, to strengthen
institutional support and donor attention.

This new emphasis on concrete output and action plan was underlined by the
heavy presence of Media such as RAI and BBC, who actually were responsible
for 2 single sessions.

Related to the preparation of the WCCD, FAO expectations were explained in a
preparatory Communication for Sustainable Development document ( see:
http://www.devcomm.org/worldbank/admin/uploads/WCCD%20Files/CSDFin4.doc   )

As identified in the document, FAO objectives to the WCCD were the

•           Discuss the theoretical foundations and methodological
approaches applied in practice.

•           Provide data and evidence of the impact of communication in
development projects and programs.

•           Demonstrate the value-added of Communication for Development.

•           Reflect on how to incorporate communication into development
policy and practice.

At least the first point on that agenda was underrepresented in comparison
to the others.

One may notice that even if theoretical approaches were on the agenda of the
Congress co-organizers and participants, the aspect of mainstreaming the
discipline of ComDev became dominant.

The emphasis on that aspect is also expressed in the final document "The
Rome Consensus" were the actual definition of ComDev is quite short.

"Communication for Development is a social process based on dialogue using a
broad range of tools and methods. It is also about seeking change at
different levels including listening, building trust, sharing knowledge and
skills, building policies, debating and learning for sustained and
meaningful change. It is not public relations or corporate communication."
(http://www.devcomm.org/worldbank/vpr/index.asp )

More attention is provided to best practices, challenges, strategic
requirements, long term foundation and recommendations.

However, this document is being enriched with recommendations and concluding
remarks from each of the sessions, and will be finalized and made available
by December 2006.

(see: www.devcomm.org )

However one recognizes the priorities of the WCCD, the questions for a
definition of ComDev, its methodology and its evaluation remain. More
theoretical knowledge would strengthen the discipline substantially. At
present, I regard it as essential to relate theoretical ComDev models to a
strict defined region. In any case, this debate also has to clear, to which
extent ComDev is a science.

Please comment freely!

With best regards,

Andreas Mandler

mail: andreas.mandler at googlemail.com

FAO Rome

Sustainable Development

Extension, Education and Communication Service
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