With the MDG deadline approaching, donor communication around development results and the post-2015 Development Agenda is intensifying. Increasingly, donors recognise that there is more to sustainable development than just economic growth complemented by "traditional" aid: a range of additional dimensions (e.g. inequalities and inclusive growth) have to be more systematically taken into account and made more explicit to external audiences.
As the post-2015 takes shape, development communication plays a crucial role: it does not only inform the public's understanding of development issues at stake, but it can influence what policymakers decide to support, prioritise and how (and for what) they mobilise resources. Getting the narrative right, using the optimal tools and weaving in communication throughout the development process is thus key.
In this context, and at the request of its members at its last annual meeting, the OECD Development Communication Network launched a study which will bring together lessons learned, cases and recommendations for development communication, based on the outputs of the DevCom Work Programme 2011-12. This study will be complemented by some "lessons learned" compiled from the DAC peer reviews undertaken in the past few years.
Initiatives, such as the UN/ODI "MY World" survey and the OECD Wikiprogress, aim to capture people's voices, ideas, priorities and views on issues, such as the post-2015 development agenda or how people see social progress. They fit in a trend, encouraged by new technologies, in which communication is becoming more and more bidirectional.
How these efforts resonate with the DevCom Members' on-going communications work as part of their Ministry / Agency? What are the areas of common interest, and to what degree (and how) Members are working on the post-2015 debate / new narratives?
Participants discussed the draft publication and identify specific issues / themes for further discussions.
Group A: Monitoring Public Support / Understanding Your Audience
What are the recent polls (who, what, how, why)? How is the trend in public support changing? What is the "quality" of the support? Is the importance of public opinion changing? What differences are there in understanding and segmenting the public?
Group B: Communication Strategy / Measurement Matters / Demonstrating Results
In 2009, only half of the donor ministries/agencies had a communication strategy, and only a third had an evaluation policy for communication activities. Is this still the case today? What is the state of the art of communications strategies at present? What is impeding the development and implementation of communication strategies within ministries / agencies? How does one evaluate the success and effectiveness of communication on development? What challenges are there in balancing transparency, branding, aid effectiveness and local ownership of development results?
Group C: Building Partnerships / Social Media
The MDGs were established as a common effort, but how does one communicate on joint initiatives? How can it be weaved into a bilateral communication strategy? With the increasing number of civil society networks, private initiatives such as fair trade efforts and especially through social media, private citizens have become actors of development. How can social media thus be used towards real two-way communication in development?
Group D: Global Education / New Narrative
With the call for more sustainable development and since the 2008 financial crisis, citizens, students and civil society at large are increasingly demanding to be informed and "educated" to better under these new narratives. What is the role for development agencies in this global effort to educate citizens on issues such as fighting global poverty, inequalities and the importance of continued support to development cooperation? Are past "development education models" still relevant or do they need to be adapted? What partnerships are needed? Does the development ‘language’ need to evolve and how can it be linked more systematically to social media?