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Access to Information and Strategic Communications (Bruch)
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Access to Information and Strategic Communications (Bruch)

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Asia Regional Workshop on Stakeholder Engagement
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International Waters Management
Hanoi, Vietnam, 2-4 April 2008

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  • On project-related information: An example of info management at the project level (looking at what info to make available across borders, how, etc) is the SPREP case study.  They have a library, website, and national information centers all coordinated through the project.  Here's an excerpt of the case:
    One example of a project that is successfully undertaking this function is the Pacific Regional Environment Programme’s (SPREP’s) Information Resource Centre and Pacific Environmental Information Network (IRC & PEIN).  SPREP is a regional organization established by the governments and administrations of 21 Pacific island member states. It is the executing agency for the GEF IW project working with pilot communities in 14 Pacific Island countries to find practical ways to strengthen environmental management in three key areas: coastal fisheries, waste reduction, and freshwater protection. 
     
    The IRC library and website was created in response to an articulated need by governments to record the relevant information that existed within their countries and to have access to information that was being held in other South Pacific countries. This information could then be used both to inform governmental decision-making and be shared with stakeholders and the broader public as appropriate.  The IRC library therefore posts a bibliography of all resources, but only posts the actual document once permission has been given by the source.  The IRC library website, now up and running, provides searchable access to over 21,000 environmental records from 9 Pacific Island states and territories, as well as project documents, newsletters, fact sheets, activity proceedings, educational materials for various stakeholder groups, national legislation and regional and international conventions, and other valuable resources.  Most of the information is downloadable on the website, and many documents are available in both English and French.  Documents that are not available online and resources that are available in other media (for example, video documentaries and educational products) are available for order at a nominal fee. 
     
    In addition to its online resources, SPREP has a physical Information Resource Centre that is funded by the European Union and houses physical copies of all of the information described above.
     
    In order to reach stakeholders who do not have access to an internet connection, the PEIN project (which is housed within the physical IRC) operates in 14 Pacific states.  Equipment (desktops, servers, and other necessary equipment) and operating software are sent into member countries and the PEIN team assists in creating centralized databases accessible to government agencies, NGOs, and the public.  The format is similar to the IRC database online, providing only bibliographic references for the public. The decision to release non-posted documents rests with the body or agency in which the database is housed.
     
    SPREP has also created National Environmental Information Clearinghouses (NEICs) that have the mandate of sharing all project-related information with all stakeholders and the public at little or no cost.  Active distribution/dissemination processes are being developed at the national level in partnership with PEIN.
     
  • Be sure to stress different media…not just written and visual but also radio, personal communications, etc.
  • The Chesapeake Bay report cards as "translating" technical and scientific information for public consumption:
    Each year, the CBF produces a report on the “State of the Bay,” which includes a “report card” for each of 12 indicators of ecosystem health divided into three categories: pollution, fisheries, and habitat.  The report card assigns a letter grade from A (pristine) to F (“failing”) and a numerical score to the overall quality of the indicator.  The report then compares the current score to the score of the year before, displaying whether there has been overall improvement related to that indicator.  Each indicator is explained in simple language, as is the reason for the “grade” assigned to it and the process the CBF uses to determine their grades. 
  • An example of community radio: 
    Local radio is broadcast in local languages and dialects.  It therefore reaches a broad segment of the population who, through lack of access to ICTs, illiteracy, lack of computer literacy, and language barriers are not readily accessing other media.  It is also a medium that can be interactive and responsive to local community needs through adapting programming to local issues.   One example of the use of radio as part of a strategic awareness-raising program is CEMINA (Communication, Education, and Information on Gender), a Brazilian NGO that works to improve gender equality through education on health and environmental issues.  In 1995, a group of women that were trained by CEMINA formed the Women’s Radio Network, which includes over 400 community radio stations throughout Brazil.  Through the network, programs sponsored by CEMINA reach thousands of listeners in some of the country’s poorest communities. The group is currently working to establish radio telecenters in communities in which their radio station operates.  CEMINA provides information and communications technologies (ICT) training to local women who can then access the computers and internet in the centre on an ongoing basis.
  • An example of overcoming the "digital divide" is UNESCO's info kiosks and multimedia centres:
    One way in which some authorities have attempted to close the digital divide is by providing publicly accessible computer terminals that offer access to certain websites for free.  These “infokiosks” or “infocentros” have been used by cities, for example, and placed in metro stations, libraries, town halls, and other public places to enable easier access to information. UNESCO’s International Initiative for Community Multimedia Centres (CMCs) has promoted community empowerment and addressing the digital divide by combining community radio broadcasting with the Internet and related technologies. A CMC combines community radio by local people in local languages with community telecentre facilities (computers with Internet and e-mail, phone, fax, and photocopying services).

Transcript

  • 1. 1 Access to Information and Strategic Communications by Carl Bruch Asia Regional Workshop on Stakeholder Engagement in International Waters Management Hanoi, Vietnam, 2-4 April 2008
  • 2. 2 Access to Information and Strategic Communications Significance Public access to information is essential to effective stakeholder engagement For stakeholders and the public To projects Strategic communication enables projects to shape perceptions and behavior Goes beyond awareness-raising
  • 3. 3 What Information? Project-related information Information related to water governance Information about relevant water resources Cultural and historical information Information on factors that could affect water resources Stakeholder-held information
  • 4. 4 Scope of Access to Information Passive Active Who should have access? When and how should projects respond to requests? Under what circumstances should a project not provide information?
  • 5. 5 Legal Norms International: International law strongly encourages access International institutions frequently require for projects that they support National Mandatory (FOI laws, PRTR, EIA, permitting and land use) Gaps Local/Provincial
  • 6. 6 Information Management Collecting Generating Organizing Updating Retrieving Disseminating
  • 7. 7 Disseminating Information Timely and accessible Language Local languages…how? Technical terminology Different approaches for different audiences: online, in print, on radio, consultations, …
  • 8. Disseminating Information Mail Documents Newsletters Exhibits (permanent and temporary) Project events, including public meetings Information centers
  • 9. Disseminating Information Media Press releases Press conferences Public service announcements (PSAs) Community radio Develop radio and/or television programs Invite media to project events
  • 10. Disseminating Information Internet Websites Email listservs Electronic fora DIGITAL DIVIDE
  • 11. Strategic Communications Purposes Encourage people to change behavior Build support for project activities Improve public and stakeholder awareness Craft message for particular audience Choice of tool Consider desired result with stakeholders CAUTION: need to be careful about manipulation (and perception of manipulation)
  • 12. GEF Methodology for planning and implementing Strategic Communications Assessment Planning Designing Pre-testing Implementing Monitoring and Evaluation
  • 13. Assessment Assess (gathering & analyzing information) Problem (need) Situation (context) Support and resources needed Audience(s)
  • 14. Planning Long-term goals Project water-related goals Short-term, measurable objectives Communication-related Changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills, and behaviors Clear, specific, and realistic Implementation schedule
  • 15. Designing What will you say? How will you say it? Develop draft for pre-testing
  • 16. Pre-testing Try it with a small sample of the audience Selected individuals Focus group Does it work as expected?
  • 17. Implementation Available communication tools Partners for distributing Materials for media (and other communication outlets) Number of copies needed Account for what is sent out Staff know how to distribute Monitor and adjust
  • 18. Evaluation Measure the effects of the communication strategy Knowledge, attitudes, awareness, and skills of audience Behavior of target audience(s) and secondary audience(s) On the environment