September is the start of something big: World leaders will come together at the United Nations to adopt a new set of global goals, called the Sustainable Development Goals.
These goals are bold. They create a shared to-do list to end extreme poverty; promote peace, equality, and opportunity; and protect our only home, the planet.
This better world is possible – if we act. Each of us can play a role in making progress on the global goals, including communicators. Here are four ways communications can make a difference:
1. Inform and Educate
Informing and educating the public is at the core of communications. Usually, when I talk to groups about the global goals, I get a lot of quizzical faces because many people have not heard of them yet. The good news is that once I explain what the global goals are, people are eager to get involved in making a difference.
Through social media channels, reporting, and old-fashioned face-to-face conversations, communicators can raise awareness of the global goals. Making sure people know about the global development agenda is the first step to engaging them in helping achieve it.
2. Localize and Humanize
Many people don’t immediately associate the sustainable development agenda with their everyday lives. Communicators can help connect those dots.
A sustainable, healthier, more prosperous world will affect all of us. Each community has its own challenges, whether it’s a need for clean air, good jobs, or more schools, and the global goals can help spur action to make improvements.
Communicators can also put a face on the goals, telling the story of the young girl who will go to school because we took action on education, the child who will celebrate his 5th birthday because he received a measles vaccine, and the entrepreneur who will start a business because we made it easier to access to financial services.
3. Elevate and Expand the Conversation
Communications will play a key role in taking the conversation of the global goals beyond the halls of the UN and to the public. Digital and social media have enormous potential to reach more people with information, and to provide innovative resources for people to learn more about our next global agenda.
The United Nations Foundation has launched Global Daily, a digital news aggregator, to serve as a one-stop platform for people to access media reporting and other content on the global goals and sustainable development.
4. Empower Individuals to be Ambassadors for the Global Goals
Last, but certainly not least, communications – especially digital communications – can empower individuals around the world to become ambassadors for the global goals.
By connecting people to information and resources, we give them the tools to become involved in the issues that matter to them and the ways that work for them and to engage with their friends, families, and social networks in change.
The UN Foundation has seen time and time again the power of global citizens: Online parent bloggers are using their voices to raise awareness about the need to expand access to vaccines; adolescent girls are meeting with their members of Congress to support legislation that helps girls around the world; and students are donating their birthdays to raise money for anti-malaria nets.
Communicators have a big job ahead of us – but the potential to help create change is just as big.
(Image: Liu Bolin creates a special artwork ‘The Future’ to raise awareness of the UN’s Global Goals to end extreme poverty and fight inequality, injustice and climate change. James Wasserman/Getty Images Assignment for The United Nations).