iSMA Inaugural Participant of the Alliance
By Patrick Cook, September 26, 2018

Washington, DC – Just over a year ago, 40 development and behavior change communication and marketing professionals from around the world gathered at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) headquarters in New York to develop a “global mechanism” for ensuring that behavior change professionals are at the table when planning, implementing, and evaluating development programs and initiatives. iSMA was there.

The ”mechanism” now has a name, a charter, and a whole lot of momentum as we head into a year of building and advocacy on behalf of the social and behavior change professions. Meet the Global Alliance for Social and Behavior Change – Building Informed and Engaged Societies. As outlined on its temporary website, the Alliance also a vision, a mission, and some clear goals (not to mention a lot of hard work by some committed members):

Fully informed and engaged societies working to achieve equity and realize their rights.

Advance the scale, quality, impact and sustainability of communication for development, media
for development, social change and behavioral
change strategies.

(1) Expand policy influence of this perspective and experience; (2) Capture and communicates
the most compelling evidence; (3) Support the scale up of this work; (4) Improve the quality of
this work; and (5) Promote higher levels of funding support for this work.

The inaugural group of 20 different development organizations and agencies have pulled
together over the past year to focus on three main initiatives:

  1. Highlight the evidence and impact of social and behavior change approaches
  2. Develop compelling tools to “expand the policy influence” of these approaches on policymakers and program designers, especially those who have committed their agencies to the sustainable development goals of the UN.
  3. Put an infrastructure in place to support this work in the long term.

These three initiatives came together at the recent UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, the UN’s annual gathering that came out of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). At the Forum, the Alliance hosted an event and briefing for policymakers and program directors attending the Forum to ensure social and behavior change is on the their radars as they plan – and fund – more programs focused on bringing about lasting social change across a wide number of issues, from the environment and social justice to child and maternal health and education.

ISMA’s participation has been integral to getting the Alliance up and running. Through the efforts of iSMA member and chair of the World Social Marketing Conference, Jeff French, at last year’s conference in Washington, DC, the iSMA was invited to attend the organizing meeting of the Alliance. Social Shift’s Craig Lefebvre and I attended the meeting, chaired by Rafael Obregon, Chief of the Communication for Development Section at UNICEF New York. Since this meeting, George Washington University’s Doug Evans has been participating in the Evidence and Impact workgroup on behalf of iSMA, and I continue to be involved with the Infrastructure and Policy workgroups.

For more information about the initiative and next steps, please feel free to contact me at
[email protected]