The OECD Development Communication Network (DevCom) helps organisations find better ways to engage citizens for sustainable development and international co-operation. It promotes peer learning among communication practitioners and provides them with the latest and best advice from experts in policy and politics, campaigning and advocacy, digital media, journalism and marketing, public attitudes research, and behavioural science.
In 2023-2024, DevCom’s will run three work streams:
A. Learning with Others: What can communicators learn from their peers in other countries, and from leading experts on public attitudes and the media?
B. Going Global: How can we communicate more effectively in different regions and partner countries?
C. Campaigning for People and Planet: How can we join, support and contribute content to the big global campaigns?
Please read on for further information and contact us if you are interested in connecting with DevCom in 2023 and 2024! Here are the specific sections of this page:
- Communicating on Sustainable Development in 2023-2024: Challenges and Opportunities
- DevCom Activities In 2023-2024
- Three Work Streams in 2023-2024
Communicating on Sustainable Development in 2023-2024: Challenges and Opportunities
Development communicators have always played fundamental roles in their organisations: raising awareness about pressing policy challenges; building public support and trust in international co-operation; and mobilising citizens and stakeholders into action and dialogue. Today, these roles are more important than ever.
Multiple crises have thrown the world off track in achieving our shared Sustainable Development Goals. The pandemic, Russia’s war on Ukraine and the environmental emergencies are redefining the world’s policy priorities. They are exacerbating poverty and inequality, hitting the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries the hardest. They have caused geo-political rifts and fuelled populism, raising concerns about the future of development co-operation, international partnerships and multilateralism.
Meanwhile, media use continues to fragment across platforms. Audiences have become more polarised, suffering from content overload and subjected to growing levels of mis- and disinformation. While people are very concerned about global issues, this concern does not appear to translate into positive engagement and global solidarity.
In this new context, development communicators thus face major challenges:
- Updating their narratives and campaigns to today’s development policy priorities
- After decades of progress, poverty and hunger are on the rise again. How can we “ring the alarm bells” without falling into old tropes and stereotypes?
- As COP-27 showed, there are tensions and trade-offs between climate action and development policies. How can we best communicate about and promote both?
- Debt relief, climate finance, ODA eligibility: how can we make the jargon around finance for sustainable development more accessible for our audiences?
- Mastering the new media landscape to promote international solidarity
- Media behaviours are changing fast. Where can we find our diverse audiences and how do they consume information on development results? How can we best partner with media outlets? How can we modernise our digital strategies to engage with younger generations?
- People’s concerns differ and fluctuate greatly. What can we learn from public attitudes analysis and other forms of data? What messaging frames work best in the context of political polarisation and nationalist rhetoric?
- In times of economic hardship, citizens may be concerned about global issues, but feel less willing to support global action. How can concern turn into positive engagement for sustainable development? What can we learn from experts in environmental, human rights or health advocacy, or from marketing experts in the private sector?
- Building trust and support not just at home, but also in partner countries
- Communicating “globally” requires complex coordination. How can we set up our organisations to communicate better in partner countries? What can we do to promote more coordinated communications among different actors?
- In many partner countries, public perceptions are shaped by mis- and disinformation. How do citizens in different regions perceive development cooperation? What can communicators do to help tackle fake news campaigns?
- Media habits vary across regions and countries. How can we adapt our approaches to different contexts in Africa, Latin America, the Asia-Pacific and Middle East? With whom can we best partner at local level?
- Amid geo-political tensions, there is also a competition of values. How can we best promote values like human rights, democracy, multilateralism and gender equality?
As they face these challenges, development communicators also have reasons for hope. Whether driven by the pandemic, the climate crisis or Russia’s war: citizens and their political leaders have become acutely aware of how interconnected the world is, and how important international cooperation is in solving global challenges. Sustainable development issues today feature strongly in the media headlines.
Another opportunity raised by participants at the 2022 DevCom Annual Meeting lies in the strength of their partnerships. To reach audiences, they can draw on:
- the knowledge of policy makers;
- the networks of their organisation’s country offices & local teams;
- the experiences and success stories of their project partners;
- the reach and advocacy skills of partners in media, civil society & the private sector;
- the advice and collaboration of peers in other countries and organisations.
Communicators also have resources to work with. Collectively, development cooperation providers spent at least USD 430 million on the “promotion of development awareness” in 2020. Their communication teams include highly skilled professionals with deep experience in digital campaigning, global education, public engagement and media relations.
They also have a network of international peers who are driven by shared values, and are ready to collaborate and share lessons with one another: the OECD Development Communication Network.
DevCom Activities in 2023-2024
EVENTS. Annual Meetings will be key occasions for members to connect at senior level. They will be complemented by diverse online events, ranging from informal get-togethers to larger multi-stakeholder workshops and seminars. We will also seize further opportunities to meet in person, for example at the European Development Days.
Special highlight: in late 2024, the Annual Meeting will be held back-to-back with a Global Communicators Forum. To prepare the Forum, we will organise 5-6 regional workshops and a seminar on global perceptions of development cooperation. The output of the event would be a policy note on global development communications.
PUBLICATIONS. The SDG Communicator will continue to be the main platform to share analysis and recommendations, through blogposts, slide decks, policy notes and updates to the DevCom Toolkit. DevCom also promotes information-sharing through its LinkedIn Group.
CAMPAIGNS. DevCom’s monthly newsletter (the “DevCom Round-Up”) brings together background information and content for major global campaigns. Together with OECD and UN partners, DevCom also hosts briefings and proposes joint campaigns ahead of report launches and international days.
Campaign themes in 2023: Gender equality & International Women’s Day; annual OECD launch of aid data; Climate & biodiversity & COP-28; SDG progress reports.