United Nations Development Group Delivering Together for Development
XI UN Inter-Agency Round Table on Communication for Development
March 11-13, 2009, Washington, D.C.

Working Title:
Moving C4D up the International Agenda:
Demonstrating its impact and positioning institutionally

  1. Justification

    The X UN Round Table on Communication for Development, held in Addis Ababa in 2007, focused on the development of a common approach and strategy for the implementation of Communication for Development (C4D). The XI Roundtable, to be held in Washington DC in March 2009, intends to take advantage of the work done so far and progress a step further in mainstreaming C4D. It will move beyond discussions of definition to examine how UN agencies work together, measure the results of their rich and varied C4D initiatives and identify the best concerted and individual ways to scale up C4D and position it as a specific field in its own right, a field which combines communication and operations. This will be done by exploring:

    1. the evidence across sectors and agencies in widely varying contexts about how to assess the impact of C4D and present results clearly and concretely;

    2. how to position C4D as a self-standing area of work in development, discussing what formal institutional arrangements will best help the positioning of C4D in this respect;

    3. defining and promoting the use of communication-based research approaches to enhance project design and assess communication as a sector in client countries;

    4. defining and promoting C4D training and learning programs aimed at strengthening skills in this field and ensuring rigorous quality standards.

    These are two faces of the same coin, both needed to move up C4D in the development agenda and support its systematic incorporation into related policies and practices.

  2. Proposed themes and topics for discussion

    1. Assessing and Demonstrating the Impact of Communication for Development.

      This stream will explore key issues around assessing the impact of C4D, looking at different monitoring and evaluation methods, including the use of indicators. It will consider how to use assessment not only to improve performance but also to advocate for C4D's key role in development.

      The following are some of the key questions to be addressed in the first theme:

      Issues for discussion:

      • How can monitoring and evaluation methods and instruments be used to provide more reliable and systematic evidence of the impact of C4D?

      • How can we use this evidence in order to justify adequate financial and human support?

      • What indicators are currently used by agencies? What kind of indicators are these: behaviour or social change indicators, process indicators, outcome indicators?

      • Have they proven useful? If so, how? If not, why not?

      • Is it possible (and desirable) to agree on a few indicators across agencies? (Many other sectors are moving towards universally agreed indicators or already use them.)

      • What cases do we have of programmes or projects that have made good use of C4D-related indicators and monitoring mechanisms?

      • What challenges do we face in measuring communication impact? How does it enhance effectiveness in development projects and programmes?

      • What "best practices" experiences do we have in evaluating C4D programmes or projects?

      • Are there any good models for writing up case studies of C4D experiences?

      Expected Outcomes of the 1st theme:

      1. An inventory of the work being carried out by UN agencies on the impact of C4D: monitoring and evaluation, including the use of indicators

      2. Possible proposal for common indicators and methods for monitoring and evaluating the impact of C4D

      3. Agreed actions on how to use the evidence of impact to position C4D more strongly

    2. Institutionalizing C4D

      This theme will explore how to move forward in positioning and institutionalizing C4D, with a strong focus on the UN System and its partner development agencies and organizations, promoting its value-added for aid effectiveness, within the development sector.

      Issues for discussion:

      • How is C4D integrated in policies, strategies and operations in UN agencies? What does it take to enhance the institutionalization of C4D in the UN System1 and its specialized funds and agencies and other leading development organizations? What challenges do we face?

      • What is the current structure and institutional position of C4D Units in the UN agencies and other development organizations? How can the value of these units be shown to enhance the effectiveness of aid programs? What would be the best way to promote and/or enhance the role of such units? What are some approaches that could help establish such units in the institutions that don't yet have them?

      • What wwould be the best way to position C4D as a self - standing area of work part of the broader communication area (which is not always recognized as a self-standing sector itself), and part of the operational sectors, discussing where and what formal institutional arrangements will best help the positioning of C4D and its systematic mainstreaming in development policies and practices.

      Expected Outcomes of the 2nd theme:

      1. Set of recommendations and a proposal for an action plan (including objectives, audiences, proposed activities, needed funding, responsibilities and timeframe) to advance the institutionalization of C4D in the UN system.

  3. Background documents

    The Round Table sessions and discussions will be based primarily on the following background documentation:

    1. review of Round Tables to date, their themes, and outcomes

    2. Theme 1 background paper on monitoring and evaluating C4D, with equal emphasis on both aspects

    3. Theme 2: background paper on institutionalizing C4D in UN agencies

    4. [possible] Paper outlining the mandate, position and examples of main C4D strategies and approaches within each agency

  4. Expected Outputs

    The Round Table is expected to result in the following outputs:

    • Data and case studies from UN agencies on C4D monitoring and impact evaluation

    • Reference documentation on: (i) review of Round Tables to date; (ii) background papers on C4D monitoring and evaluation, and (iii) institutionalization of C4D; and (iv) [possible] Mandate/Position paper on C4D strategies and approaches across UN agencies

    • Proceedings

1 For example, in the UNDG, the Chief Executives Board, and some of the high-level committees.