HOW SOCIAL MEDIA IS INFLUENCING UNITED NATION DECISIONS

2015 could be the year that changes the world as we know it. Three major global development conferences are taking place; the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and culminating in Paris, the UN Climate Change Conference.

Important world decisions and plans will undoubtedly be made. Hopefully for the good. But we at Social Figures are interested in how they’ll be made. Specifically, what do the general population want from the development community and the United Nations? Who are the influential people pushing for change?

These are questions posed by Juana Lucini (PhD student at the Sustainability Research Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast). To help her, we’ve given her access to our Social Figures Brand Care software. She’ll be sharing with us her finds during the research process. Below is a summary of her research proposal:

Image credit: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org

Image credit: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org

This study combines Social Media analysis (e.g. online forums promoted by the United Nations and Twitter) and document analysis to determine challenges and opportunities to a more inclusive governance at the global level through the analysis of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

To frame the discussion, water and governance are the themes (or ‘keywords’ selected). This study examines networks as they attempt to influence policy making and how their narratives relate to governance and water of proposed SDGs. The contribution of this research to current knowledge, is a better understanding of inclusive governance at the global level, as well as transnational networks.

The 2012 Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) had as one of their main results the creation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals are to be established through a multidisciplinary and inter-governmental process involving public consultations with actors from all sectors. This is a new opportunity for Social Movements as it is the first time they are formally involved in a decision making process inside the UN structure. Moreover, the formal inclusion of non-governmental actors in policy making has been applied at national and sub-national levels in many countries, but not yet at the global level.

Image credit: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/apr/02/global-development-podcast-transcript-water

Image credit: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/apr/02/global-development-podcast-transcript-water

My research, supported by Social Figures in the use of their BrandCare software, is focused on the decision-making process for the SDGs as new actors are being brought to the formulation and implementation of a new international policy. My goal is to map networks using Twitter as well, as to what ideas they are advocating. To frame the discussion, water and governance are the themes selected. My hypothesis is that different actors and networks are trying to influence the outcome of this policy process (SDG) through their narratives built around social media.

This process is unique in the sense that it aims not only to build new global political institutions, but also to involve civil society in its development in a process aiming to influence a new institutional framework for Sustainable Development (Biermann 2013; SDSN 2014). In the SDG process, the UN formally attempts to emulate a more inclusive process at the global level and boost their legitimacy.

The formal inclusion of non-governmental actors in policy making has been applied at national and sub-national levels in many countries, but not yet at the global level. There is also an increasing dissatisfaction, especially amongst actors committed to the environmental agenda, regarding the processes of multilateral negotiation and the failure to reach sustainable agreements. Social Media is one innovation to address the inclusion of a diversity of actors and networks in the global decision making process and social media analysis allows us to conduct an extensive assessment of these narratives. The contribution of this research is a better understanding of inclusive governance at the global level, as well as transnational networks.

Juana Lucini is a PhD student at the Sustainability Research Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia. She has a BA and an MSc in Political Science from the University of Brasilia, Brazil, and a Masters in International Cooperation and Development from the University of Cantabria, Spain. She has been working in International Cooperation and Development for more than 10 years. Her last positions were as an Economic Empowerment Coordinator for UN Women and Policy and Advocacy Advisor for Oxfam International. She also joined the UN in Cape Verde, Africa as a Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist. Before that, she began her career as a researcher for the Brazilian Institute for Applied Economics Research (IPEA), followed by policy positions in the Brazilian government.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.