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Perspectives on the Message of Development

Carolina Azevedo, Chief of Communications at the United Nations Development Coordination Office Joins Pollack Speaker Series

Posted in: Events, Faculty News

stacked images. images are screenshots from a zoom conversation with Carolina Azevedo (top) and Alfredo Toro Carnevali (bottom)
Carolina Azevedo, Chief of Communications at the United Nations Development Coordination Office joined Professor Alfredo Toro Carnevali for a Zoom discussion as part of the Pollack Speaker Series.

On November 15, Carolina Azevedo, Chief of Communications at the United Nations Development Coordination Office spoke with Montclair State students on the challenges and opportunities of communicating globally in the current context.

“You can’t tackle poverty alone,” she stated, “It’s poverty and education and health, and hunger. They are so interlinked.”  These linkages require communicators who can share the message of development to a variety of stakeholders.

As this is an important part of Chief Azevedo’s position, she encouraged students to consider the ways in which their communication can reach many different groups.  “At the end of the day, many people who want to communicate effectively, end up thinking strategically,” said Azevedo, “Is it a Facebook post? Is it a Tik Tok? Is it Instagram? You’re going to communicate differently, depending on the channels… What’s your key message? What is it that you want to communicate? And who’s your audience? Because that’s the most important point.”

She noted that this need comes with a responsibility for greater transparency by the United Nations, as well.  Speaking to the need for development initiatives to be accurately communicated to the stakeholders they serve, she states, “There is a big push for not only communicating the stories, but also information that boosts transparency and accountability that every taxpayer wants to see. ‘Show me the results.’”

Increased transparency in the social media filtered environment of modern communication presents a unique challenge: the danger of misinformation.  Trustworthiness was noted as particularly important with Chief Azevedo encouraging students to “Stop and think. Do you know who shared information with you? Can you just do a quick fact? Check and try to make people understand that everybody plays a role when it comes to spreading whatever it is that you’re sharing.”

With targeted, engaging, and ethical communication, her work at the UN Development Coordination Office (DCO) seeks to create meaningful real-world change.  “We need to boost education, quality of life, and the environment. We need to support women and girls,” she stated, “It’s a commitment.”

Students were provided a unique insight into both the DCO’s mission and how solid communication strategies are essential to meeting that mission.  Responding to Carolina Azevedo’s message, Danielle Goldstein, a Junior in Communication Media Studies, stated “Ms. Azevedo said that you need to know who your audience is and how and where to reach them.”

This perspective on how key global goals of the United Nations intersect with the need to communicate about those goals with a broader public is a lesson that is meaningful for the next generation of advocates and communicators.

Ms. Azevedo spoke eloquently about her experience as Chief of Communications and Spokeswoman of the United Nations Political Mission in Colombia in 2017-2018, in the framework of the historic peace process between the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC), a guerrilla group, and the Government. She highlighted how working on a daily basis with Colombian women and men who were very committed to the peace process, in particular, working hand in hand with local radio stations in towns and indigenous communities, had been “the most fabulous experience” she had ever had. Professor Toro Carnevali, the event organizer, underlined how Chief Azevedo embodied the pillars of Montclair State University through her commitment to public and community service.

This presentation was part of the Pollack Speaker Series which brings important leaders in the world of global affairs to Montclair State University to share perspectives with students.  Carolina Azevedo’s presentation was co-sponsored with the department of Political Science and Law and the School of Communication and Media.