Getting out of our silos to tell the sustainable development story

BY Yoka Brandt, Yannick Glemarec | October 5, 2015|Comments 0

More than 150 world leaders gathered at UN Headquarters in New York last week to formally adopt 17 global goals, and an ambitious sustainable development agenda. As an important step, many like those at Project Everyone, are already at working to help people know and understand the global goals. Everybody should get excited about the historic opportunity the goals provide to make the world a better place by 2030, especially for those currently left behind. Seeing the goals projected onto the UN building last week was a truly amazing experience!

Helping people understand and value the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)

Those of us engaged in UN communications will now have to work to promote a new set of goals that promise to end poverty, to leave no one behind, to protect the environment and to address climate change – we have a unique opportunity ahead of us:

  • People will need to know about the SDGs so they can hold governments to account for implementing the agenda, and deliver results.
  • Governments need to be supported in communicating the global agenda in a way that is relevant to all local stakeholders.
  • We as a UN system need to come together to communicate as one, and convey the message about a complex but exciting agenda in a way that people understand.

Learning to listen  

But we will also need to listen and engage in dialogue. Gone are the days when we could simply share information with our audiences in a one-way type of communication. Today, people respond. More than 8 million people have made their views known as part of the global goals discussions, through the MY World Survey and lots of other creative means in almost 100 countries. This type of two-way engagement will have to continue all the way to 2030, with United Nations Country Teams working with partners to listen and learn, to feel the pulse, and to understand what matters to the women, men, girls and boys that we as the UN serve.

Silo busting communications?

So, we need to do things differently. We have to stop speaking only from the perspective of our own ‘silos’. And we have to get better at developing a common narrative. Yes, it is a challenge to do justice to complex development issues, looking at them from different angles, and still come out making sense! But it can be done. And it has to be done. Because, the 17 goals together make up a new sustainable development agenda where the WHOLE is greater than the sum of its parts!

For that, we have started work to improve the coordination of communication in support of shared objectives among UN agencies at country level. And we are eager to learn what success looks like. We therefore invite you to share your story about how to Communicate as One in support of the new sustainable development agenda. Examples, innovations and good practices can be shared on this blog, Silo Fighters. So we can all learn from each other, and move the new agenda ahead collectively.

How are your promoting the SDG agenda? Learn about country examples of Communicating as One. Share your stories, tales and tribulations on silo-busting communications.


Yoka Brandt Yoka is Deputy Executive Director at UNICEF and co-chair of the UNDG Working Group on Communications and Advocacy. Follow her on Twitter.
Yannick Glemarec Yannick Glemarec is Deputy Executive Director of UN Women and co-chair of the UNDG Working Group on Communications and Advocacy. Follow him  on Twitter.

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