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My Experience at the Second International Social and Behavior Change Communication Summit

by 2017 winner Olasumbo Modupe

Last month, about 1,200 social and behavior change communication professionals from 90 countries—including Nigeria, which I represented—converged on the Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center in Bali, Indonesia, for the second international Social and Behavior Change Communication Summit (SBCC Summit). The theme of the five-day summit, Shifting Norms, Changing Behavior, Amplifying Voice: What works?, focused on how to use mass media and SBCC tools to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The summit took place ​in Nusa Dua, Indonesia, from April 16 to 20.

Key themes emphasized at the Summit were the need to align efforts for significant global change, focus on prevention and root causes, put people at the heart of SBCC, and keep cultural diversity in mind. Conference delegates were encouraged to embrace new approaches fueled by science and breakthroughs in technology, including the accelerating and disruptive growth of social media, mobile connectivity, virtual reality, Big Data, and more. We were urged to use new these tools to enable greater bottom-up development and collective dialogue, while tackling barriers in access to communication channels and inequalities of those whose voices are heard on them.

The Summit also provided a platform for skills- and capacity-building workshops for conference delegates. As a broadcast journalist and advocate of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), I was able to learn more about use of digital storytelling, producing short and simple public service announcements (PSAs), communicating in complex settings, advocating for family planning and maternal and child health, and many more. This will no doubt form the basis of my advocacy work.

I was privileged to meet some key people in the field: Sohail Agah of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Susan Krenn of the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs (CCP), one of the lead organizers of the Summit; Nahla Valji, Senior Gender Advisor, Executive Office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations; Ayesha Raza Farooq, Senator from Pakistan; Warren Feek of the Communication Initiative Network; Dr Folake Olayinka, Immunization Team Lead for the Maternal and Child Survival Program; and many more.

And how could I forget fellow 120 Under 40 winner Elizabeth Futrell of Knowledge for Health (K4Health), who interviewed me for the Family Planning Voices (FP Voices) project (and is pictured with me), and the singing sensation duo, William Otuck and Trevor Arnett, who wowed the crowd with "Girls," a song used as an SBCC tool to champion the cause of advocating for the rights of the girl child.

As the first draft of the SBCC Summit Declaration states, “The SDGs will not be met unless individuals and communities are informed, engaged and empowered to demand and participate in change and in improving their own lives. All voices, including those often unheard, must be amplified in this process.” It is hoped that there will be demonstrable progress made in deploying SBCC to achieve the SDGs before the next SBCC Summit in 2020. Together we can!

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