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United Nations Development Group Delivering Together for Development
Communication for Development (C4D)

Communication is often perceived as an information conduit to promote specific mandates, planning methods and policy-related agendas including those used to build public image, visibility and support for fund-raising initiatives.

However, the United Nations system also actively provides policy advice on the formulation and implementation of national communication strategies, e-strategies, regulatory setup and reform, and institutional development to improve capacity and access to information and knowledge. Those efforts need to be more effectively integrated into the broader development agenda to strengthen the foundation for a cohesive approach in meeting the Millennium Development Goals within the context of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework.

Public information strategies, important for the profile and development objectives of the United Nations System, do not necessarily equal communication for development practice. The working definition of Communication for Development is taken from UN General Assembly Resolution 51/172 (December 1996), which emphasizes "...the need to support two-way communication systems that enable dialogue and that allow communities to speak out, express their aspirations and concerns and participate in the decisions that relate to their development.” This text remains the closest thing so far to a common system definition of Communication for Development articulated at the highest level of UN system policy making. Its emphasis on two-way communication is consistent with today’s paradigm of communication as an amplifier of voice, facilitator of participation, and means of fostering social change.

In Resolution 50/130, the General Assembly recognized the important role of Communication for Development programmes in the UN system and the need to enhance UN inter-agency cooperation and impact in development programmes. The UN Inter-Agency Round Table on Communication for Development was created as a relevant mechanism and meets bi-annually to report Organizational developments, follows up on recommendations and monitors relevant actions. A biennial report is submitted to the UN General Assembly by the Secretary-General.

Held on a biennial basis since 1988, the UN Inter-Agency Round Table on Communication for Development seeks to address cooperation issues among the UN agencies regarding the implementation of programmes and projects in this domain.


What's New? - Advancing UN and UNICEF's agenda through participatory communication

Related Documents

Communication for Development Overview Presentation
December 2009
Presentation prepared by Communication for Development (C4D) expert Paula Claycomb.