Declaration of the 2018 International Social and Behaviour Change Communication Summit (Nusa Dua, Indonesia, April 16-20)

Our message to decision- and change-makers everywhere is simple: together, we can ¬unleash the transformational power of Social and Behaviour Change Communication (SBCC) to address the challenges facing the global community today.

A community of advocates, academics and practitioners 1,200-strong, from over 90 countries, emerged from the 2018 SBCC Summit more committed than ever to harnessing the vast potential of communication to accelerate people-centred development.

Our commitment: to contribute to the realization of national development goals and the priorities defined by social movements and communities around the world, including the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

These goals will not be met, however, unless individuals and communities are informed, engaged and empowered to demand and participate in change and in improving their own lives.

This is the heart of SBCC.

SBCC engages and supports people to shift norms, change behaviours and amplify the voices needed to meet humanity’s most pressing challenges. From HIV to Ebola, from gender discrimination and violence to infant mortality, from malaria to climate change and access to justice, evidence shows that SBCC works. It is critical to strengthening the agency of ordinary people, transforming societies and assuring access to life-saving information and support.

Uniting us across SBCC's diverse methodologies and approaches are core principles that came to the fore at this Summit. These constitute the foundation of all our work:

  • Communication is a right.  We are committed to listening and learning – not only informing. Simplistic one-way messaging is not enough. Discussion and dialogue are central to social change.
  • The SDGs are for everyone. We recognize that real and lasting change is achieved when people define and drive development for themselves.  We are especially committed to hearing and amplifying the voices that often go unheard, of the most vulnerable in our societies, including children, people with disabilities and at-risk populations.  And we view young people as equal partners, the lifeblood of our work.
  • We embrace complexity and appreciate the importance of geographical, cultural and social context. We are committed to applying SBCC to address challenges across humanitarian as well as development contexts – indeed, the two contexts are increasingly inseparable. On a planet affected by rapid climate change, large-scale forced migration, and new disease outbreaks, SBCC plays a critical role in building resilience.
  • We are committed to the active participation of citizens and communities in shaping and implementing public policies and programs.  SBCC builds local capacity and creates spaces for public dialogue and collective action to improve services, infrastructure and democratic decision-making.
  • We are committed to rigorous analysis of what works, building on successes and turning failures into lessons. We ensure our work is informed by evidence, and we are also willing to take the risks that go along with innovation. We value participatory evaluation of our SBCC work through which communities actively question, review and weigh the impact of what we do together. 
  • We believe that the credibility of our field rests on transparency regarding who decides how social and behaviour change investments get prioritized, which behaviours or social norms should be changed, and in whose interest. 
  • We keep the ethical dimension of our practice at the forefront of everything we do. Communication is a powerful tool for good, but it can also harm. We oppose communication that misinforms, manipulates, or distorts. We are committed to harnessing it in ways that strengthen democracy, equity and social cohesion.
  • We will engage with the media – traditional and new – to shine a light on untold stories of change.  We support the right of individuals and communities to freely use new communication tools and platforms to connect, debate, play and transform.
  • We embrace new approaches fuelled by science and breakthroughs in technology, including the accelerating and disruptive growth of social media, mobile connectivity, Big Data analytics, artificial intelligence, and more. We will use these tools to enable bottom-up development and collective dialogue, while tackling barriers in access to communication channels and inequalities of whose voices are heard on them. At the same time, we stand against uses of these technologies that threaten rights to privacy, democracy and transparency.

Building on the growing recognition that SBCC has earned in recent years, we call on governments, donors, civil society organizations, the private sector and other stakeholders to embrace and institutionalize communication by:

  • Integrating SBCC as a pillar in development planning and evidence generation;
  • Developing and implementing SBCC strategies as part of national development plans and all efforts to achieve the SDGs, and building necessary national and local capacities to do so;
  • Ensuring the design of public policies and social infrastructure that enable -- rather than hinder -- open and inclusive dialogue, and that support people’s rights to communication.
  • Recognizing that social change and shifting social norms are complex and not always linear, and thus require long term commitment, flexibility, attention to dignity and respect for diversity; and
  • Investing in SBCC across as well as within sectors, funding its core processes to enable full participation of affected people in development.

This Summit has confirmed the vitality, dynamism, evolution and maturity of our field of practice. We return home more united and more committed to people-centred development than ever.

We warmly thank the Indonesian authorities and people for hosting the 2018 Social and Behaviour Change Communication Summit in beautiful Bali.

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