[FoME] Out now: "Sustainability: Going Beyond the Buzzword" by Michel Leroy - Issue #3 of "Research Reviews for Development Practitioners"

Ines Drefs drefsi at hotmail.de
Do Nov 4 15:54:59 CET 2021

Dear colleagues,

A new issue of our publication series “Research Reviews for Media Development Practitioners” is available! The reviews provide concise analyses of current research, both academic and non-academic, and discuss its practical relevance for international media assistance.

Out now: Going beyond the buzzword “Sustainability” 

The third issue is authored by Michel Leroy, MEDAS 21 PhD student at the Erich Brost Institute for International Journalism, who looked into the topic “Sustainability: Going Beyond the Buzzword”. Here are three key findings: 

* Since gaining mainstream appeal in the 1990s, sustainability has become a key concept in the field of media action. Its proponents would like to make it an unquestionable imperative, while its objectors question its catch-all nature. There is no widely accepted definition of sustainability but the OECD proposed a criterion that has since been used as a benchmark: “the extent to which the net benefits of the intervention continue, or are likely to continue”. Some donors (e.g. Japan and the United Nations Development Programme) also focus on the related notion of “human security”.

* Overquoted but still often neglected, sustainability is more of a process than an externally driven goal to be achieved.  Whether an activity, outcome or principle is sustainable can only be known afterwards and what is assessed is a likelihood or probability, along with the capacity to mitigate risks, learn from mistakes and adapt along the way. 

* Unsustainability is rarely questioned in humanitarian media projects, but it becomes critical when the emergency project becomes a long-term endeavour. The role of donors and their coordination play a key role, especially since not all of them have a formal policy on media sustainability, and there are even fewer cases with a concerted strategy. This is concerning because over the past three decades studies have shown that scattered, unrelated interventions have no effect or are even counterproductive.

The entire research review including conclusions for practitioners is available online and free of charge at:



Upcoming issues
Up next are:
* Comprehending Media Systems for Media Development (by Johanna Mack)
* Constructing Peace through Media? A Literature Review on Public Communications in United Nations Peace Operations (by Roja Zaitoonie) 

These reviews are currently being edited and will be released in the upcoming weeks. Stay tuned!

And then?
Further research institutions and individuals are invited to join the initiative to expand the series’ scope and reach! If you are interested in contributing as an author or peer reviewer, please contact ines.drefs at tu-dortmund.de

We hope you’ll enjoy the read! 

Best wishes from the editorial team
Christoph Dietz, Ines Drefs, Sofie Jannusch, Guido Keel
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