The Department of Global Communications is counting on Member States to help it accelerate the pace of modernization and improve the ways it informs the world about the work of the United Nations in an era of challenge for multilateralism, the Committee on Information heard today.
Alison Smale, Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, pointed to resource mobilization — such as funding, providing junior professional officers, offering in-kind support or introducing the Department to potential partners — as one crucial way in which Member States can assist.
The Department will be coming to Member States soon with detailed, specific requests on key projects and needs, from a revamp of the un.org website and social media to youth outreach and engagement and the deployment and use of information and communications technology (ICT) tools, she said.
“The United Nations wants and needs to be understood. This is especially important at a time when the value of multilateralism is being questioned,” she said, a day after the Committee concluded its annual general debate.
For the Organization’s communications to succeed, she added, its messages must be clear and they must engage audiences in ways they understand, on platforms they use and in languages they comprehend. The Department will be relentless as it pursues those goals, she added.
She said the Department’s approach to climate-change communications — focused on the theme “A Race We Can Win, a Race We Must Win” — is emblematic of its new way of doing business: modern, agile and designed to take advantage of new technologies and new ways of connecting with the global public.
The Department is taking a similar approach in the run-up to high-level meetings at Headquarters this September, coinciding with the seventy-fourth session of the General Assembly, on topics including climate change and sustainable development, she explained.
Reviewing other aspects of the Department’s work, she said the integration of United Nations Information Centres with resident coordinators and United Nations country teams is continuing apace, shaped by the overall goal of creating more impactful communications at the country level. Phase one of a major redesign of un.org is due to run until the later part of 2020, while multimedia content — including increasingly popular podcasts — is expanding. Partnerships with media outlets are growing and the Department is investing more in social media.
Multilingualism is a guiding principle for the Department, with 90 per cent of websites under its purview fully maintained in all six of the Organization’s official languages, she said. However, a reduction in resources is significantly constraining its capacity to enhance its multilingual products, she said, noting that the Assembly did not approve a request, contained in the Secretary-General’s 2018-19 budget proposal, for more staff and funds to deliver more content in more languages.
The Committee on Information is to meet again on 10 May to consider and adopt its report to the General Assembly at its seventy-fourth session.