How the United Nations Should Promote the Post-2015 Development Agenda
This is a new issue brief discussing about how the United Nations can most effectively communicate the post- 2015 development agenda in order to catalyze the global movements necessary for its achievement. Informed by her experiences in her former roles as the Global Media Coordinator for the U.N. Millennium Campaign, which advocates for the achievement of the MDGs, and as Head of Communications for the Secretariat of the High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, the author argues that the U.N. should carefully calibrate expectations in advance, be transparent about the state of negotiations, retain top communications professionals to craft the name and narrative of the agenda, use clear language in the agenda, communicate in “human terms,” make the agenda globally accessible and relevant, and promote shared ownership of the agenda.
Alaimo argues that the inclusive process of consultation on civil society priorities, which is currently underway, is a positive development. The General Assembly should issue periodic updates about the status of negotiations once they have begun, in order to remain in control of the message and reduce the ability of others to do so through erroneous leaks and speculation. Additionally, the U.N. should secure global marketing experts to help develop a name and narrative that will inspire people around the globe to champion the agenda.
The author urges Member States to use clear and direct language in the text of the agenda, and to avoid the temptation to gloss over their differences by obscuring the meaning of their words. She argues that the post-2015 development agenda should convey a sense of urgency about the scope of the problems the world faces and the critical need for action, while preserving optimism that these challenges can be met. Subjects of the report should be presented as people, not statistics. The overarching goals set out in the agenda should be relevant to audiences in rich, poor, and middle-income countries alike. The report should convey a sense of shared responsibility and entitlements – imbuing a sense of ownership in people around the world, and giving citizens a clear understanding of what they, as individuals, can do to make a difference.
Alaimo argues that, by stepping up its communication efforts now, the U.N. can position its final agenda to catalyze the global movements necessary for its implementation.
Kara S. Alaimo is Assistant Professor of Public Relations at Hofstra University. She previously served as Head of Communications for the Secretariat of the U.N. Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda and as Global Media Coordinator for the United Nations Millennium Campaign. Contact: Kara.S.Alaimo@hofstra.edu.