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Preliminary Communications Strategy for the 2010 MDG Summit


I. Background
The UN General Assembly will hold a summit, or high-level plenary meeting, from 20 to 22 September 2010, prior to the opening of the General Debate, to review implementation of the MDGs at the ten-year mark and set the way forward to the 2015 deadline. This strategy is based on inter-agency discussions in the UN Communications Group Task Force on MDGs, as well as the Policy Committee decision of 26 January 2010.

II. Strategic goals
(a) Adoption of an agreed action agenda for 2011-2015 to achieve the 2015 targets, to include: fulfilment of existing development commitments; new steps to achieve the 2015 targets, with actions that are clear, unambiguous and monitorable; and partnerships to support MDG acceleration frameworks at country level.

(b) Broadest engagement by governments, civil society and the private sector.

(c) Positive impact on public opinion and support for the MDGs.

III. Communications goals
• Build awareness and political momentum early in 2010 to spur constructive commitments at regional summits and G8/G20 toward a globally agreed agenda in September 2010.

• Mobilize public opinion to make it politically viable for government leaders to keep their commitments and achieve results.

• Generate confidence and buzz to ensure strong participation by Heads of State and other major players in September.

• Project the UN as an effective platform for convening major players and achieving results that will improve the lives of the poor and vulnerable.

IV. Challenges
• Recent negative trends, including those resulting from the economic and food crises, have led to growing views that the MDGs are likely to fail and media questions focusing on “Plan B” after 2015.

• As donor countries focus more on domestic agendas in a time of economic downturn, political pressures and criticism regarding development assistance will likely increase, requiring good preparation and well-honed arguments from the UN and partners to show how aid works.

• Reputation management: the UN should stress that the Goals need to be achieved by Member States, to head off misplaced criticism of the UN if success proves elusive.

• “MDG fatigue” may need to be countered by creative messaging and approaches.

V. Opportunities
• The powerful mobilization behind the MDGs evident in 2008 among Government leaders, foundations, the private sector and civil society still has strong support, and citizen participation in events like the “Stand Up and Take Action against Poverty” campaign has continued to grow by leaps and bounds.

• New positive voices in Washington could make the drive to achieve the MDGs a whole new ballgame.

• This is a chance to showcase successes at the country level – we know what works, when good policies are met with adequate funding – and the positive supporting role played by “One UN”.

VI. Target Audiences
• Government leaders, relevant ministries, diplomatic missions at HQ

• Opinion leaders, foundations, private sector, NGOs and faith-based organizations, especially those engaged in development issues

• The broader public, especially young people, in order to sustain long-term pressure on governments to keep their commitments

• Media – both traditional and new – that reach above audiences

VII. Timeline – Key Global Communications Opportunities

• A comprehensive calendar of MDG-related events is attached in Annex I.

• Major report launches will play a key role in focusing attention on the MDGs and intensifying media coverage in the lead-up to the September Summit. Launches have to be carefully planned, however, in order to avoid inconsistent messaging and competing for reporters' attention.

Line-up of major global MDG-related reports coming out this year:

- March: Secretary-General's report, “Keeping the Promise”

- April: World Development Indicators and Global Monitoring Report (World Bank)

- June: UNDP synthesis report, including how to accelerate progress

- 24-25 June: Private sector good practices in support of the MDGs (Global Compact)

- Late June: Country-by-country scorecard on MDG achievement

(Millennium Campaign/Overseas Development Institute)

- Late June: MDG Needs Assessment, including action plan to close gaps

(UNDP, as requested by G8)
- Late June: MDG Report 2010, including new statistical data and forecasts

(DESA and UN System)
- Late June: Second GIVAS report, analyzing impact of shocks on the poor

(EOSG, as requested by G20)
- Mid-Sept: MDG Gap Task Force Report, including how to close gaps on MDG-8

- Mid-Sept. Progress for Children (UNICEF), with MDG focus

- TBD: UNOP report on implementation of commitments made at 2008 HLE

Especially the report launches scheduled for the busy periods of late June and September will need careful coordination.

VIII. Messages
See Annex II for draft core messages as a basis for discussion. These reflect agreed language from two inter-agency consultations: the Policy Committee decision of 26 January and “Keeping the Promise”, the report of the Secretary-General.

In addition, a grid is being developed for Goal-specific messages, with inputs from relevant UN System partners [DPI coordinating through UNCG task force].

IX. Tactics
A. Identify spokespeople
The following can be mobilized to raise the profile of the Summit and its issues in the course of their own activities, and for media interviews, appearances, op-eds and other outreach:

* An MDG Advocacy Group of eminent persons from the private, policy and philanthropic sectors, has been announced by the Secretary-General; members are being considered by EOSG [see TOR annexed to Policy Committee decision.]

* “MDG Leaders” from the private sector, to be appointed as an outcome of the Global Compact Leaders Summit in June.

* “MDG Champions” from sports and the arts, to be appointed by inter-agency partners from the pool of existing Goodwill Ambassadors and Messengers of Peace [coordinated by DPI through the UNCG task force].

* Senior UN System officials in their areas of expertise; a list of potential interviewees will be made by issue and languages spoken.

B. Media Outreach
1. Print and on-line media
• Editorial boards and editorial page editors
o SG is starting to briefing editorial boards in early 2010

(NYTimes briefing on 10 March);
o Schedule a coordinated calendar of op-eds for the year, with SG, DSG and agency heads [DPI to coordinate]

• Media briefings with journalists outside the UN press corps are being organized at least once each month by the UN Foundation with DPI.

• A series of regional media briefings in person or with video-links could be organized over the course of the year.

• Correspondents for major international media who are based in developing countries and could cover the issues from the ground; DPI is working on updating their list with help from UNICs, and then will make a tailored e-mail pitch to them.

• Bloggers need to be targeted more effectively.
2. TV / Video
• UNDP is considering sending flipcams to Country Teams to film stories from the field illustrating successes. UNTV (DPI) is also considering filming “testimonial” stories from the field, but lacks funding. Discussions underway.

• UNDP is seeking support for a major advocacy film. A short seven-minute version could be produced to be shown at the opening of the MDG Summit [commitment to screen this needed from OPGA and MDG Task Team]. UNDP is talking to Antonio Bandeiras and Cinema for Peace.

• UNDP is planning to produce PSAs for the World Cup using their Goodwill Ambassadors who are football stars (Zidane, Ronaldo, etc). A number of UNDP Country Teams in Africa are partnering with Sony to organize public screenings of the World Cup and include the PSAs.

• UNDP is considering proposing to BBC to stage another BBC World Debate.

• UNFPA is planning MDG-related video news releases and documentary productions leading up to Beijing at 10, the Women Deliver conference in June, the September High-Level meeting. In addition, the organization is considering feeding into a TVE led project focusing on the MDGs called 'Five Years to Go'.

• The Gates Foundation is considering doing an on-line campaign similar to its Living Proof campaign, but more specifically focused on MDGs. The Living Proof campaign featured videos showing the positive human impact of their development projects.

3. Radio
• Explore whether field-based reporting through BBC or other public broadcaster is possible.

• UN Radio is planning a series focused on gender equality and the empowerment of women, funded by UNFPA and UNIFEM.

C. Materials
1. A visual identity for the MDG campaign has been developed, based on the agreed slogan of “We Can End Poverty”, building on the on-going “End Poverty 2015” graphic. Language versions will be ready soon. A variation is being developed for the visual identity for the Summit itself.

2. A website for the Summit will be developed by DPI in six languages as a sub-page of An additional web platform to link the numerous citizen outreach initiatives is being developed by DPI on Facebook.

3. Success stories – in bullet, text story and video story formats– are being compiled with inter-agency inputs. These will scroll or be presented as an integral part of the Summit website. These will also be linked to or adapted into story ideas for journalists, with agency contact details, on the media page of the website.

4. Why aid works – success stories or bullets are needed to address this issue specifically, and also well-honed arguments to counter the highly vocal critics of development aid, who will no doubt get more media play as the MDG campaign intensifies. National spokespeople from aid-receiving countries could be effective.

5. A press kit will be developed – both on-line and in print format -- to provide the media with a coherent package of the latest UN system data, news and background on the MDGs. DPI – in close collaboration with the relevant substantive offices and inter-agency partners – will work on a comprehensive press kit to be issued in June, drawing on the major reports and the latest information on the Summit. The on-line kit will be six official languages, for downloading and adaptation by regional and country offices. An updated version, if needed, can be issued around mid-September.

6. A UN System media contact sheet is being compiled and will be posted on the media web page and included in the press kit, to direct journalists to relevant media officers across the System.

D. Outreach campaigns and social media
A number of initiatives are planned or under discussion to mobilize public opinion and to reach out directly to citizens.

• A special edition of the Millennium Campaign's “Stand Up and Take Action against Poverty” will be held on 17-19 September, during which some unified action will be carried out in capital cities around the world, including New York, and other relevant venues. Citizens will also be able to “stand up” on-line and make their voices heard.

• NGOs are mobilizing their constituencies. There is a small working group under InterAction, based in Washington, DC. A bigger NGO consortium is focused on the G8 in Canada. The Millennium Campaign and NGLS will cooperate on NGO engagement, including a special website for NGOs.

• The Millennium Campaign is planning to launch “Global Conversations” in early September, by which high-profile UN voices and celebrity advocates will converse with a global audience via Facebook and Skype.

• The Millennium Campaign is planning to launch a mobile phone campaign enlisting citizens to help monitor the implementation of the MDGs. The plan is to have the project working in three or four locations as a pilot by September.

• DPI (Outreach Division) will launch this year's “Citizen Ambassadors” initiative in May, inviting people to post video messages to world leaders on the UN YouTube channel on how to achieve the MDGs.

• DPI (Strategic Communications Division) is exploring an outreach campaign using text messaging.

• FAO will launch a major public awareness campaign called “One Billion Hungry” on 11 May to build awareness of the fact that the number of chronically hungry now exceeds 1 billion and continues to increase. The campaign will ask people around the globe to sign a petition to be presented to world leaders.

• UNRIC Brussels is working with Europe's largest advertising company, EURO-RSCG, and the UN Office for Partnerships to organize a “Mouse Marathon”, with funding for MDG-related projects to be sought from private sector partners from the Global Compact.

• Chris Hughes, one of the founders of Facebook and a veteran of the Obama campaign, is exploring an on-line platform to engage broad audiences and match them with anti-poverty projects, to be launched after September. He is interested in possibly linking to various UN System initiatives.

Sports-related campaigns
1. In connection with the World Cup:
- One Goal campaign – for education
- United against Malaria campaign
- UNDP is producing PSAs in connection with the World Cup, using their football star Goodwill Ambassadors – to be shown across Africa at World Cup public screenings, in partnership with Sony.

- MDG song, spearheaded by South Africa Country Team, to be distributed on a CD and as a free download on iTunes (TBC).

- Comic book initiative – Sports for Development Office and partners

2. Swim Across the Continents campaign, with ultra-swimmer Marcos Diaz, supported by the Government of the Dominican Republic. Collaboration with the Millennium Campaign and relevant UN Information Centres is under discussion. The event is proposed to culminate with a swim up the East River to the UN, on the eve of the MDG Summit.

The High-level Task Force convened by the UNDG is coordinating national strategies for 2010.

• Each country is expected to develop a national report, supported by the UN Country Team, which will take stock of progress towards the MDGs and identify major constraints. The launch of this report will be a key communications opportunity for national audiences. The Millennium Campaign is examining with NGO partners whether shadow reports will be prepared for some countries. The global MDG reports will also have resonance at national level.

• The Millennium Campaign and UNICs will utilize the “Stand Up and Take Action” campaign to build raise awareness and build momentum at national level, aimed at developing national “MDG Breakthrough Plans”.

There will be a number of communications opportunities at the regional level:

• Regional MDG reports are being prepared by UNDP Regional Bureaux and Regional Commissions (see separate list of reports)

• There may be some major regional events: Spain (EU Presidency from January 2010) may have a regional summit in May; Japan is holding the Tokyo International Conference on African Development on 28-30 May. The AU Summit in July will be another important opportunity.

• European outreach campaign – UNRIC Brussels is planning a “Call for Creativity against Poverty” print ad competition, linked to a new website,

X. Evaluation
• An analysis of media coverage of the MDG Summit and other key events during the year should be done by DPI with UNIC inputs.

• The analysis of media coverage done for the 2008 MDG High-level Event can serve as a comparator.