“Let the Summit begin!”
And with that, CCP’s Jane Brown officially kicked off the 2022 International Social and Behavior Change Communication in Marrakech, Morocco on Monday.
“The SBCC Summit is unique and extraordinary,” said Brown, who, as co-chair, spoke on behalf of the Secretariat organizing the event. “Here we highlight the best of what our field has to offer and debate on how we can do even better to create a future where challenges are eliminated through collaboration, mutuality and partnership to ensure that everyone has equitable opportunities to grow and thrive.”
Nearly 1,800 practitioners, researchers, donors and communicators from around the world, finally filled the Palais de Congrés to attend the Summit, delayed nearly three years by the COVID-19 pandemic.
They were welcomed by Youth Champion Innocent Grant, program director at the Young and Alive Initiative, who introduced Professor Khalid Ait Talib, Morocco’s minster of health and social promotion; Dr. Aawatif Hayar, the kingdom’s minister of solidarity, social integration and family; and Dr. Speciose Hakizimana, UNICEF’s representative in Morocco.
“In light of the great challenges associated with the economic, social and health conditions that the world is going through, we are required today – all of us – to redouble efforts and coordination … in order to make social commitment that (contributes) to the process of achieving sustainable development goals, and confronting all the obstacles that prevent vulnerable groups – especially women – from enjoying their full human, social and economic rights,” Hayar said.
Added Hakizimana, when it was her turn to speak: “(Organizations) have for long recognized the potential of SBCC. Increasingly, we are beginning to understand that acceleration toward the Sustainable Development Goals will only be possible when people-centered approaches are informed by evidence, voice and participation of the communities we serve.”
The week-long Summit will feature more than 200 sessions, including daily plenary sessions that will be live-streamed for those who couldn’t make the trip as well as multimedia showcases, TED-like communication talks and lots of panels on topics from family planning to climate change.
Brown, who is deputy director of CCP’s Breakthrough ACTION project, told those assembled that the Summit comes at a critical moment.
“Our lives were turned upside down (by COVID-19, but) we were also witness to the power of SBCC’s unique ability to galvanize communities to take protective action and to save lives by encouraging preventative behaviors, informing people about COVID-19 vaccinations and motivating them to get vaccinated,” she said.
“During the many diverse and extraordinary sessions throughout the next few days together. We’ll hear about the many innovative and impactful ways you have all used SBCC approaches to address these challenges and build a more just world. … There have also been many other transformational global events since we last met and these, coupled with the global pause caused by COVID-19, catalyzed a movement that amplified the voices of communities most deeply impacted by inequities.
These communities have always held deep wisdom, experience and their voices called for us to embrace a fundamental truth: that those who are closest to inequities are also closest to the solutions to those inequities. During this Summit, we are taking a collective step in answering that call.”