Making an Impact
The Human Development Report process does not end with publication. An important share of the value added of HDRs lies in the fact that the reports articulate a consistent human development message that the report teams can deploy through a carefully constructed advocacy strategy to press for change. Thus, once a national or regional HDR has been launched, it should become a dynamic tool to advocate for human development within the country or across the region. The HDRs are also used as tools by UNDP globally to support policy and advocacy in an HDR-UNDP feedback loop.
The media and communications strategy should evolve from the outreach initiated during the initial steps of HDR preparation. The focus of the strategy is to spread awareness of the findings and recommendations of the HDR as widely as possible so as to impart fresh knowledge and promote new forms of behaviour to advance human development (table 1).
|Identifying the compelling data, findings and policy messages
|Tailor the data, findings and messages to target audience
|Develop press materials, including press kit
|Provide training to spokespeople
|Identify policy-makers and stakeholders who may be engaged to advocate for policy change
The launch of an excellent report with well-grounded conclusions may generate some coverage in the press the following day, but maintaining interest over the long term requires a sustained effort to engage journalists, as well as the target audience.
The strategy should arise out of the following:
- Through participatory reviews, identify the compelling data, key findings and main policy messages to be communicated during advocacy and follow-up.
These might include the results of innovative research, surveys, trend analyses, information on composite indices and their components and disaggregated data highlighting development disparities in the country. The promotion of innovative indicators or surprising findings may greatly enhance interest.
- Tailor the data, findings and messages so that they are easily accessible and can be readily explained to all the distinctive components of the target audience, other stakeholders and partners, and the general public.
Clarity, relevance and accuracy strengthen advocacy.
- Develop press materials, videos and social media.
Especially in countries with low literacy rates, consider posters or radio and television spots to reach a broad spectrum of the public.
- A press kit should be prepared so that it may be distributed before the report launch (as an advertisement for the launch) and also during the launch. It should present the key messages, data and statistics. It might include some or all of the following: a one-page press release (include the website for the report and contact information for the media focal point or media spokesperson), a summary of the report’s main findings and their relevance to the current development situation in the country or region, several press briefs targeting different audiences or detailing different policy messages, a one to three page presentation of major graphic or other visual material (maps, charts, and so on), a list of frequently asked questions and the answers, fact sheets profiling data and findings, a compact data disc, the report, an executive summary, and general information about UNDP.
- Provide training in public relations and media readiness to the media focal point, if one has been appointed, or to other spokespeople selected for their media skills to spearhead media contacts and engage with media outlets on development issues.
This should include training in crafting and delivering a message and individual coaching. Even a half-day session can be extremely valuable, especially one that includes the videotaping of a mock interview with the spokesperson and feedback on the result from a media expert.
- Undertake analysis to identify the policy makers and other stakeholders and members of the target audience who can bring about policy change.
This stakeholder analysis should reveal the preferences of these actors and how they can impact policy reform, and the institutional changes that may result. This sort of information is essential if national and regional report teams are to anticipate potential political obstacles to the implementation of new policies and propose compensatory measures, for example, institutional adjustments or subsidies for those who would lose during reform.
- Develop a procedure for granting permission to reprint the report (table 2)
Table 2: Launch, market and distribute the HDR
Elements in the launch, marketing and distribution of the report
Develop a procedure for reprints Before the launch, provide media materials online Launch the report on a date of relevant national, regional or international significance Establish a report distribution list that promotes dialogue and debate
- Using the dedicated website, provide media materials and background information online before the launch.
Put the HDR on the website by launch day. Develop an interactive website component to stimulate debate and share resources. Use this component to nurture the human development community, the communities of practice and the knowledge networks.
- Launch the report during the year mentioned in the report title and on the copyright page.
If possible, launch the report on a date of relevant national, regional, or international significance. Plan high-profile events to brief media. The launch might be associated with press conferences with one or two important contributors such as government representatives, policy makers, parliamentarians, representatives of private sector or civil society organizations, or other experts. Other events might include policy seminars, public debates and so on.
- Establish a distribution list for the report.
The distribution list for the report should include international organizations, sponsors and potential funders, governmental and non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, stakeholders, technical associations and research institutions active in the area of the theme, representatives of the target audience, and so on. Wide distribution can promote dialogue and debate around the theme from a people’s perspective rather than solely among experts, though this is also important. Work with a commercial publisher or short-term marketing expert to distribute the HDR widely and proactively, including through market mechanisms, and to develop components such as brochures and plain language summaries, catalogue listings, advertising in relevant publications, reviews of the HDR, placement in bookstores, online sales, videos, contests and so on.
United Nations Publications will carry HDRs through their hard copy and online catalogues and in their bookstores in Geneva and New York. In some cases, research institutions, universities, partner groups and other organizations will include HDRs on their publication lists and send relevant information to their members and customers.
- Send a PDF of the report to HDRO. They can advertise it through their social media channels and include the report in their on-line library.
- Implement an advocacy strategy to promote the principal messages of the HDR based on the desired development actions and policy changes (table 3).
Advocacy should focus on the various components of the target audience. The advocacy strategy should also concentrate on other critical segments of society, such as educational and research institutions, development policy centres, non-governmental organizations involved in development, and the general public. It should likewise focus on areas outside the capital and outside the country or region. Ensure that HDR findings influence planning and programmes at UNDP and other United Nations organizations and among the donor community.
Elements in advocacy
Implement the strategy Plan and carry-out pre and post launch briefings Rely on HDR contributors as key advocates Undertake resource mobilization to support projects based on HDR recommendations
- Plan and carry out pre- and post-launch briefings with key policy makers and stakeholders.
The general aim should be to concentrate attention on the concrete policies and resources needed to overcome poverty, foster equity and improve people’s lives by expanding their choices and capabilities. The specific aim should be to emphasize the policy implications of the report, including the conclusions and recommendations. For example, in Colombia, after the launch of the 2003 HDR, training was provided to 60 representatives who then fanned out across the country to explain the report findings in communities. Briefings should be held across the country or region wherever support for actions based on the findings and recommendations might be generated. This might include academic centres, expert institutes, grass-roots organizations and so on. If possible, take advantage of radio, television and print media to spread the policy messages of the report.
- Rely on contributors to the HDR process as important advocates.
Chapter authors, experts who have provided case studies, academics who have attended meetings: all are valuable in spreading a report’s messages among their colleagues and beyond. They should be relied upon for media and communications events: the report launch, interviews, speaking engagements, using the report in university courses, preparing letters to the editor or opinion pieces for the media, sharing lists for promotional mailings and much more. A goal of the media and communications strategy should be to encourage all stakeholders to become actively engaged in advocacy.
HDRO is also able to promote new reports, either through our social media channels or working with country offices to write an article for the office’s HDIalogue Blog (http://hdr.undp.org/en/blog). Please contact [email protected] to discuss this.
- Reengage in resource mobilization to fund programmes and projects based on the report’s recommendations.
Measurement of the impact of an HDR and assessment of the social change achieved through the related advocacy efforts are time-consuming and skill intensive, but they add to the understanding of development and the identification of good practice. They help impart confidence in the value of the HDR process among financial contributors and other stakeholders and generate a sense of achievement that is crucial to all participants. They also identify areas where the process may be improved.
An integral part of the HDR process therefore involves designing appropriate strategies and tools for effective impact monitoring and assessment (table 4). These might involve the following:
|Survey the target audience on their views of the success of the report
|Measure progress in addressing priority issues raised in the report
|Assess the HDR's contribution to improving the available development data
|Assess the HDR's impact on enhancing stakeholder skills
- Survey the target audience and other partners to determine their views on the success of the report in addressing issues of interest to them.
Identify appropriate indicators and survey methods to measure this success.
- Develop a method to measure any progress achieved in addressing priority issues raised in the report.
Indicators established within the United Nations Development Assistance Framework and the UNDP results-based management framework, can be used to measure some outcomes and provide competent feedback on certain areas requiring improvement. Gather feedback on the report’s influence on policies, planning, legislation, budget allocations, debates in parliament, the advocacy of non-governmental organizations, educational curricula, the operations of other projects and programmes and so on. Monitor media coverage and public debates on HDR themes and related issues.
- As part of a broad process of national dialogue on human development, the preparation of an HDR should contribute to an improvement in the quantity and quality of the data on human development available at the national or regional level.
It should help generate demand for new development indicators and enhance development policy-making. The Human Development Atlas in Brazil is a fine example. Determine ways to assess this impact.
- Through the HDR process, multiple stakeholders become involved in consultations, participatory reviews and analysis, data collection, and the formulation of advocacy strategies, thereby developing skills key to formulating and implementing human development policies.
Identify ways to assess this impact on skills development.
Follow-up represents a continuation of the advocacy effort, impact monitoring and influence assessment over the long term (table 5). The goal is to maintain the focus on development and to provide a solid foundation for relevant policies and practical programmes and projects in the months and years ahead.
|Shape and implement a follow-up strategy by enlisting institutions involved in the HDR
|Maintain the communities of practice and knowledge networks on the dedicated website
|Institutionalize the collection of data on the issues raised in the HDR
|Be alert to join with the government and stakeholders in initiatives addressing the issues
|Produce new reports at regular intervals; include updates on past HDRs
|Regularly report on impact monitoring and follow-up to UNDP to nourish the feedback loop
- In shaping and implementing a follow-up strategy, enlist the institutions that have contributed to the content of the HDR.
- Maintain the communities of practice and the knowledge networks on the dedicated website so as to stay up to date on the theme and issues, including technical issues, and to manage new knowledge.
- Collaborate with statistical users and producers to identify methods and approaches to institutionalize the collection of data on the sorts of indicators and levels of disaggregation that will be needed to monitor progress in the country in the various areas of human development, including development disparities across population groups.
By monitoring and regularly publishing data on indicators to gauge the impact of policies and track progress in socio-economic development, the HDRs help focus attention on the achievement of national and international development targets such as the Sustainable Development Goals.
The UNDP Country Office, Regional Bureau, or Regional Centre and other stakeholders should therefore systematically review the impact of all a country’s or region’s reports, as well as the global HDRs, on policy and the national or regional development agenda and the contributions of these reports to progress towards global development targets, including the Sustainable Development Goals. Convene 6- and 12-month meetings of the steering committee and other stakeholders to review impacts and progress in addressing the report themes and related issues.
- Remain alert to join with the government, non-governmental actors and other stakeholders whenever opportunities arise to implement the report recommendations or to affect other initiatives related to the report themes and issues.
- Placing human development at the centre of national policy debates requires a high-quality product produced at regular intervals.
A cycle of one or two years should become the norm for the production of HDRs. Include updates on progress in realizing the recommendations of past HDRs. The success of the HDRs in informing government policy in Chile is partly because of the regularity of the reports. Guatemala represents an example of the cumulative impact of the regular publication of reports. India has been prolific in producing subnational HDRs.
- Regularly report all results of impact monitoring, influence assessment and long-term follow-up to UNDP. Regular reporting to UNDP thereby helps nourish the HDR-UNDP feedback loop (box 1).
Box1: HDR-UNDP feedback loop
The national and regional HDRs are central elements in global UNDP policy dialogue and advocacy. Thus, especially through the Human Development Report Office, UNDP analyses national and regional HDRs for innovations, good practices and initiatives that might be replicated and then feeds the results of these analyses back into various UNDP policy and advocacy initiatives, including subsequent HDR processes.
UNDP Country Offices, Regional Bureaux and Regional Centres should therefore share their experiences in the HDR process through regional discussions, UNDP and partner conferences, the global UNDP network, staff secondment or any other useful means. In this way, the initiatives of other UNDP Country Offices, Regional Bureaux, Regional Centres and national, regional and international partners may benefit from the accumulation of examples of good practice and lessons learned.
The HDRs are likewise core components of the profiles of UNDP Country Offices, Regional Bureaux and Regional Centres. Indeed, they are used as evidence in the Assessments of Development Results, which are independent country-level evaluations produced by the UNDP Evaluation Office to assess the relevance and strategic positioning of UNDP’s support to a country’s development. The purpose of these evaluations is to advance organizational accountability and learning and strengthen the effectiveness of UNDP plans and programmes.
They also frequently figure prominently in initiatives on impact monitoring, UNDP programme and financing plans, the results-based management framework, resource mobilization campaigns and so on.
At all stages of HDR preparation, beginning with the identification of the theme, UNDP actively consults with the United Nations system on the specific contributions the reports can make to the common purposes.
Although the national and regional HDRs are not specifically designed to guide United Nations cooperation programmes, they are instruments in the establishment of strategic partnerships. In particular, there are two key mutually reinforcing links among these HDRs, the Common Country Assessments and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework, as follows:
- The national and regional HDR analyses and the indicators used in the reports provide critical inputs for the preparation of the Common Country Assessments and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework.
- The priorities set out in the Common Country Assessments and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework provide national and regional HDRs with a solid foundation for impact monitoring across options, strategies and interventions.
UNDP also uses the national, regional and global HDRs as tools in its relations with non-governmental organizations and civil society, particularly in its role in building analytical and advocacy capacity and as a partner in strategic analysis that responds to the development needs of countries.
For these reasons, the participatory nature of the HDR process represents a major opportunity for HDR contributors to influence planning and project implementation across the United Nations system. The analysis and policy recommendations provided in the national and regional HDRs can contribute to the analytical underpinnings of the operational programmes of UNDP and other development partners.
Country Offices should therefore draw fully on national HDR data and analysis in preparing their results-oriented annual reports and in contributing to Common Country Assessments and the country-specific United Nations Development Assistance Framework.
Clearly, the UNDP feedback loop initiated by the publication of a national or regional HDR leads back, ultimately, also to the UNDP input for the preparation of new HDRs.