Options for the development of a mechanism to advance the scale and effectiveness of communication and media for development, social and behaviour change strategies and action related to local, national, regional, and international development priorities

Rafael Obregon
Warren Feek
Publication Date
May 26, 2017

UNICEF (Obregon); The Communication Initiative (Feek)

Below is part of an overall paper called "Development Calling", which is the primary paper for consideration at the all-interested-parties meeting to be hosted by UNICEF on June 27th and 28th, 2017 in New York. The full Table of Contents is here.

Structural and funding base for the mechanism

By design, this paper has outlined some of the core options for consideration at the all-parties meeting on June 27th and 28th, 2017 at UNICEF in New York. By intent, the paper is focused on some of the core options and decisions to be made. It is not yet at a point where very detailed structural plans such as decision-making systems, hosting arrangements, staffing plans, funding and budget requirements, organisational charts, memoranda of understanding, location, and other very important decisions can be made. First, it is necessary to build the foundations on which those important specific elements will be built.

However, it is important to provide some initial options for 3 key areas that will be required to operationalise the options agreed on — in particular, structural base and funding. They are interconnected, of course.

There are some underlying principles that need to be considered before taking a position on the options below, including:

a.    Timeframe:  Whereas the priorities and structural options outlined above will have a long timeframe, it is suggested that the options below are considered for the next two years only – the start-up phase.

b.    Not competing: It will be necessary to reflect on other mechanisms that have been implemented and profile the very agencies and organisations that set them up in the first place. 

c.    Size: The staffing and funding levels for any mechanism should remain very small. This is to ensure that the mechanism: services and supports the organisations and other agencies in this field, harnesses their capacities when required, and neither duplicates nor competes.

d.    Overhead costs: It is vitally important to keep these as small as possible. Office costs and personnel overheads can add up very quickly.   

The options for operationalising the options above include:

Structural Base:

Whether it is work to implement one of the external options above (for example, the Standing Committee) or to implement an option under full control (for example, the Council idea), there will need to be a structural base for that work. People will need to have defined roles, a place to work, and clear lines of accountability.  

Structural Base Option A: Embed a small staff team within a major organisation in this field of work. Any staff would be part of that organisation’s personnel and administrative system. 

Structural Base Option B: Establish a small virtual team who are all working from home wherever they may be and use online coordination tools. All staff would be on consultancy contracts, perhaps to different organisations in this field of work. 

Structural Base Option C: Establish a new NGO with a small office in a key city. Being an NGO, it would require a constitution, Board of Directors, etc.

Structural Base Option D: There is no dedicated staff team. Organisations in this field that are centrally involved in this process agree on lead roles and either dedicate their own staff or assume responsibility for contracting people with relevant skills, knowledge, and/or contacts.

Funding Base:

No matter the options chosen above, funds will be required. Major decisions will need to be made about the guiding principles for how funds are raised and the source for those funds. Four possible options as the initial basis for that conversation and decision:

Funding Option A: That one organisation (bilateral, technical, NGO, UN, or foundation, for example) agrees to raise or provide new money to support a small 2-year funding arrangement for start-up purposes. 

Funding Option B: That there is no core budget. The organisations that assume roles as outlined – for example, in Structural Option D above – fund financial requirements from their own resources related to the roles they assume.

Funding Option C: That one organisation (or multiple organisations with good coordination) agree to build the tasks required into their core work plan(s) with appropriate costs incorporated into their budget(s) for the first 2 years of operation.

This paper has attempted to outline a systematic set of considerations and options for the development of a global mechanism to help advance the effectiveness and scale of the communication, media, social and behavior change community of work. The issues and considerations are not simple or straightforward, as is clear from the above. For that very reason, in the spirit of fruitful exchange of ideas, the discussions and possible decisions to emerge in late June will require the involvement of multiple stakeholders.

With many thanks for your invaluable engagement in this process. 

Rafael Obregon (UNICEF)
Warren Feek (The Communication Initiative)

May 26th, 2017


There is a critical dialogue focused on this paper at this link: Draft Paper: Global Mechanism - Comments and critique please

The previous section in this paper is The Options - Operating Mechanisms.

Editor's note: Above is an excerpt from Rafael Obregon's and Warren Feek's 18-page paper "Development Calling".

The full table of contents for this paper follows:

Introduction, Purpose, Stimulus, Consultation

Worries, Opportunities, Priorities, and Core Question

The Options - Specific Problems on Which to Focus

The Options - Operating Mechanisms

Structural and Funding Base - and Conclusion


Image credit: Huu Nhuan Nguyen/University of Queensland Centre for Communication and Social Change (CfCSC)