Rappler and UNDP to work together for 'social good'
MANILA, Philippines – A partnership for 'social good'.
Rappler and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) committed to pursue this on Monday, July 13 in Makati as they signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to share knowledge and collaborate on the following:
- Promotion of public discussion to improve citizen engagement
- Holding of the annual PH+Social Good Summit
- Training of staff and partners on the use of information and social media for development advocacy.
Titon Mitra, UNDP Philippines Country Director, and Maria Ressa, Rappler CEO and Executive Editor, lead the signing of the MOU.
‘Uber of the NGO world’
As the United Nations (UN)’s leading development agency, the UNDP aids countries in improving the quality of life of their people. In the Philippines, it has partnered with over 30 national and local government agencies, as well as private institutions such as Social Watch and the Ateneo School of Government.
UNDP programs include the promotion of good governance, improvement of disaster management and risk reduction, climate change adaptation, and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
“UNDP has always done important work and I’ve covered it in the last 30 years in all of the countries of Southeast Asia,” said Ressa in her speech following the MOU signing.
She added that Rappler hopes to help UNDP become the “Uber” of the non-governmental organization (NGO) world through the use of technology, referring to the mobile-based ride-sharing platform that has achieved global success since its launch in 2009.
“I say the Uber model of the NGO world because Uber doesn’t own cars, Airbnb doesn’t own any hotel rooms. And yet, Airbnb is now the top hotel group globally,” she said. “This is what technology is doing.”
Ressa sees that the opportunity for UNDP lies in the potential for crowdsourcing and community building, and social networking. She cited examples such as the Million People March which mobilized thousands via social networks and MovePH’s own Project Agos which lets the crowd report critical information in real time. (READ about the discussion on technology in the 2013 PH+Social Good Summit). MovePH is Rappler's civic engagement arm.
“These communities will become communities of action when they get the right information,” she said. Ressa added that while organizations such as Rappler provide information or “the kernel around which action can happen,” action is ultimately driven by communities, partners, and people's organizations.
The matter of engaging with communities and having greater interaction with communities is an opportunity UNDP’s Mitra is looking forward to in the Rappler-UNDP collaboration.
“This is about learning about how you interact in a new world of information exchange which is much broader than the socialness of social media. I see plenty of opportunities well beyond the traditional use of media, which is to use it for public relations – in other words, to wave a flag and tell a story about how well UNDP is doing,” he said.
According to him, the thematic areas UNDP is currently working on include emerging global agendas such as the agreement on climate change at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris this December and the global agreement on Sustainable Development Goals, a new set of targets that follow and expand on the MDGs.
In the Philippines, the UNDP is focused on sustaining local biodiversity, combatting the spread of HIV/AIDS, and anti-corruption and good governance. (READ: Climate change: Key dates on the way to Paris accord)
These areas, Mitra says, need the attention and engagement that can come from the communities created by social media.
“The most important part is not just getting the message out, but getting an interaction with our stakeholders and that is where the potential is. It’s expertise that we don’t have in UNDP and certainly Rappler does and we want to draw on that expertise to increase the level of engagement with our stakeholders,” he said.
According to Rappler Social Media Manager Stacy de Jesus, the potential for social media to amplify the work of international development agencies like the UNDP is immense.
Citing Rappler campaigns such as #SharePH, #ShowThePope, and even the #SaveMaryJane campaign, de Jesus emphasized that the energy of social media users can be harnessed to fuel online and on-the-ground advocacies.
“Believing in the capacity of social media,” she said, is the “first step and it makes a big difference.”
“It’s not the tools that empower the people – it’s the people using the tools,” she added.
“This is a time when social news networking becomes social collaboration – you work together for a cause. And social media brings together people with a cause.”
Using the “new language” of social media is a matter Mitra sees as innovative and necessary for UNDP.
“The challenge for UNDP is really [in] our ability to be innovative. In many ways, the way we communicate is old-school, we use old technology. So we really have to get to the ‘new school’,” he said.
“The message [of UNDP] is actually a message that is very important to all Filipinos. It’s about the development of the Philippines in a global context, but we have to be able to open ways that resonates with the population and I think this is where the real opportunities are. We speak in old language and we now have to speak in new language,” Mitra added. – Rappler.com
For more information about the UNDP in the Philippines, visit the UNDP country website.
Frances Sayson, a student from the Ateneo de Manila University, is a Rappler intern.