As communicators for the United Nations in charge of Europe our greatest challenge is spreading messages on the importance of development in multiple languages. We have therefore adopted the strategy of relying more on images than words. In a number of initiatives with the EU, we have encouraged citizens to illustrate their vision of development and why it is important for them. To our great surprise and delight, the response of European citizens to our initiatives have been both of incredible quality and quantity, proving the point that if they are engaged, citizens do care about development issues.
Based in Brussels at the centre of the European Union, the United Nations Brussels team aims at informing and engaging European citizens on the wide range of issues that the 27 UN agencies based in Brussels are covering. As an official partner of the European Year for Development, the UN considers this European year to be a welcome initiative with a clear message and a goal highly comparable with the goal of the UN Brussels team.
With every month of 2015 having a specific theme, starting with January’s theme ‘Europe in the world’, February on ‘Education’ and March with ‘Women and Girls’, the UN Brussels team finds there to be many parallels with the work and mission of the United Nations. The UN partnership with the EU on this European Year for Development provides therefore an excellent opportunity to stress the importance of informing and engaging citizens on developmental topics and to highlight the UN objectives and priorities on development and beyond. As Ms. Cristina Gallach, a European citizen and former EU official, will start as the new Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information at the UN Headquarters in New York early February, where she will champion the involvement of UNRIC with this European Year for Development, this proves to be another great example of the close relationship between the UN and the EU.
The UN aims for 2015, the year it celebrates its 70th anniversary, to be not only a European Year for Development, but above all a universal year for development and a launch for a sustainable future for everyone.