Celebrating 75 years of the UN with 75 country teams spearheading digital platforms
The United Nations marked its 75th anniversary on 21 September 2020, at a time of many challenges, including a global health crisis that has shaken the world that we live in. During this time, the UN country teams (UNCTs), behind the scenes, have come together to tackle these uncertainties, digitally.
The teams are utilising the strength of their online presence to amplify the impact of their work in countries worldwide. More than 75 teams have launched new web platforms that not only showcase the work of the team through compelling stories, publications and multimedia, but teams have also pioneered innovative digital technologies to provide open and transparent data, including in the context of the UN's response to COVID-19. Through an application programming interface (API), the sites integrate data generated from UN INFO, the United Nations Sustainable Development Group (UNSDG) data platform. UN INFO serves as the centralized data portal that collects and reports the work of the UNCTs towards achieving the SDGs. Additionally, the sites are also fully multilingual, allowing teams to communicate to local and international audiences.
To highlight the unique perspectives that our UN country teams have experienced with their new websites, we asked five questions:
- How has a multilingual site helped your work?
- How has the use of data added value to your work?
- How has the website provided more visibility to your work?
- How has the website helped your team with storytelling?
- How has the website helped illustrate collaboration/coordination between agencies, funds, and programmes?
1. Communicating for all
When we communicate together as the United Nations system, it strengthens our reputation and elevates our work. One of the essential factors in communicating among peoples is multilingualism, which is particularly important for us. By serving 130 UNCTs, multilingualism ensures that we reach everyone that we serve.
“The UN in Turkmenistan website is the first and only trilingual UN country team website that provides timely information in English, Russian and Turkmen of the UN’s support to the Government of Turkmenistan. The added Turkmen language content significantly increased the number of users and helped double our audience. Hence, the available information is accessible to all ethnic groups and people living abroad.”
- Resident Coordinator Office Team, United Nations Turkmenistan
“With the new [Iran] website, multilingualism has been taken to another level. Users can access the Persian or English documents with just one click. With the built-in SEO, users searching for information about Iran and the UN in Iran have a higher chance to land on our website. This certainly helps the UN in Iran to reach a bigger audience.”
- UNIC Tehran Team, United Nations Iran
2. Harnessing the power of data
The Secretary General’s “Data Strategy for Action by Everyone, Everywhere” is our agenda for the data-driven transformation of the UN. Data permeates all aspects of our work, and is critical to the global agendas we serve. These websites put data at the forefront of our work to transparently communicate what we are doing toward the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“In Cameroon, the UN INFO dashboards contribute to showcasing the progress towards achieving the SDGs in Cameroon. In addition, they contribute to strengthening the advocacy towards the donors, by showing the funding gap.”
- Jean-Claude Mebenga Development Coordination Officer, Resident Coordinator Office, United Nations Cameroon
“The [data] dashboards allow our audiences to easily see the type of donors and partners contributing to UN programmes for the SDGs in country; which SDG is prioritized and which ones still need stronger support; where the projects are being implemented and who is implementing those projects to ensure stronger coordination and transparency to the UN funds and programmes and to the Lao Government."
- Ms. Banthida Komphasouk, Development Coordinator Officer, Data Management and Result Monitoring & Report, Resident Coordinator Office, United Nations Lao PDR
“Having a real-time, visual dashboard was very helpful to provide a snapshot of our work at a glance. It’s great to have the UN INFO dashboards connected to the website so anyone can quickly find the information they are looking for.”
- Communications Team, United Nations Viet Nam
“In February 2020, the UN in Cabo Verde presented the 2019 joint results to members of the Government, led by the Prime Minister, civil society and development partners. It was very pleasant that together as One UN we were able to show accountability through the captivating graphics and show how the UN in Cabo Verde is implementing the SDGs."
- Ivanilda Joiane Rodrigues, Data Management and Results Monitoring/Reporting Officer, Resident Coordinator Office, United Nations Cabo Verde
3. Reaching more audiences worldwide
Providing a space to help galvanize our target audiences and communities is pivotal. The websites serve as a common platform to transparently engage with people and partners in promoting sustainable development.
“Our website is performing as a platform for information repository that helps us to share reports, stories, press releases, etc. more easily with partners and journalists."
- Communications Team, United Nations Viet Nam
“The [Dominican Republic] website provides a digital space not only for showcasing our joint efforts, but also for UN agencies, funds and programmes that are present in the country but do not have a national website where they can promote their stories and other contents to our Dominican audience."
- Michelle Rivas, Communications Specialist, Resident Coordinator Office, United Nations Dominican Republic
4. Sharing stories from the communities we serve
For the teams on the ground, it is critical to share the voices of the people they serve. The websites provide a platform to showcase the work of the teams through the use of compelling stories and multimedia.
“The website has helped us in understanding the value of putting a face to the thing we do and to the people we serve.”
- UNIC Lima Team, United Nations Peru
“The website proved to be an invaluable storytelling tool for the UN team in Bosnia and Herzegovina, whose 2020 strong turn to joint stories was visibly lifted via the new webpage and the online outreach it offered. We finally have one place to showcase our stories in a standardized manner, which significantly contributed to the perception of “One UN”, an important step in building up the UN identity in the country which was missing before. This is especially important for UN agencies which don’t have local websites or capacities to manage them to this extent.”
- UN Communications Group, United Nations Bosnia and Herzegovina
“The new [Cabo Verde] website has really inspired us to show more stories from the field of the impact of our intervention. With the new design colleagues from the UNCG, and myself are more active and inspired to tell stories based on another lens, putting people first, giving them voices and amplifying the impact to inspire others. Stories from the field are changing from institutional communication to communicating changing people's lives.”
- Anita Pinto, Communications Specialist, Resident Coordinator Office, United Nations Cabo Verde
5. There is no ‘i’ in team
With the UN Development System Reform, Resident Coordinators are now equipped with teams of experts in economics, communications, data and planning. These teams are better positioned to help the RC lead the work of UN agencies, funds and programmes: 129 Resident Coordinators heading 131 UN teams and covering 162 countries and territories. These websites elevate and amplify the work of all the UNCTs working together with the respective partners and governments.
“The [Cabo Verde] website and the UN INFO dashboards have been of tremendous support as an incentive for the UNCT to work closer together and to “do better” as ONE UN and on their individual country programmes. It is also a powerful tool for the government and partners to witness live, the impact of the UN Cabo Verde programmes on achieving the SDGs. The Government of Cabo Verde has requested UN support for the development of a similar tool for featuring the work on their Sustainable Development Plan. This is the highest recognition that we as the UN can have on something that is useful for those we serve.”
- Ana Patricia Graça, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Cabo Verde
“After nine months, the UN [Bosnia and Herzegovina] website “feels like home” for showcasing the work of all UN agencies in the country, especially with storytelling. The website is now used to feature stories from all UN Agencies under the UN75 framework, from videos, animations, info-graphics to stories. And more to come.”
- Communications Group, United Nations Bosnia and Herzegovina
In the light of UN Development System reform, the new UN Turkmenistan website became a critical tool to Communicating as One. It ensures the common branding for the UN Country Team through providing a comprehensive and transparent overview of the joint work of UN agencies in the country. UN agencies now feel more responsible to work through UN INFO as this is immediately reflected in the SDGs section.”
- Resident Coordinator Office Team, United Nations Turkmenistan
“The UN Lesotho website has helped agencies to see that indeed we are one UN family, although various agencies are working on differing mandates, the website is now something that brings our work together in one place. The website has also given agencies ownership as they now have an opportunity to showcase their work, especially agencies that don’t have a country specific website.”
-Tumi Russell, Communications Officer, Resident Coordinator Office, United Nations Lesotho
The spirit of One UN is reflected in the UN Madagascar website.
- UNIC/RCO Antananarivo Team, United Nations Madagascar
The future is bright
The effort to evolve and expand the UNCTs’ online presence continues. As an agile digital platform, the teams will continue to work with the latest design and development technologies to ensure the sites are clean, modern, user-friendly and accessible for all.
We’re proud that these websites are bringing country teams together to tell one cohesive story of our work and efforts. Join us in celebrating the achievements of our country teams in the framework of UN75!
We will continue to onboard more platforms during the year, please stay tuned for the 100th! To view a current listing of all 75 available websites, visit our announcement celebrating the sites launched.
Produced in collaboration with UNCTs worldwide. Written by Pilar Lagos and Katheline Ruiz, Public Information Officers for the Development Coordination Office. Special thanks to our teams in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, the Dominican Republic, Iran, Lao PDR, Lesotho, Madagascar, Peru and Viet Nam for your invaluable insight and participation. Congratulations and thanks to all UN country teams that have joined this online initiative!