The management and execution of the European Development Days is an enormous undertaking – from the choice of themes to promote, to deciding structure, engaging the relevant speakers and organisations, and communicating the event. EuropeAid’s Head of Communications, Stina Soewarta, provides insight into what she and her team did differently this year.
The 2013 EU DevDays were the fourth in a row that EuropeAid’s Head of Communications and Transparency Unit, Stina Soewarta has been involved with. In her previous position in Commissioners Piebalgs’ cabinet, she was engaged in the event debriefs, and so stepped into the steering position of this year’s event with ease.
“The preparations commenced over eight months ago,” she advised Capacity4dev earlier this week. “The first step was to assess what was particularly successful in the previous year’s event, and see how we could improve it.”
This year’s main theme of debating the Post MDG framework was ‘obvious’. “It gave itself to us,” she said, ”it was our chance to take stock of what had happened in New York, before we start work next year to define our position, as the EU, for international negotiations.”
Soewarta and her team organised an information hub for the event – the website www.eudevdays.eu, which ‘went live’ early in the process, allowing stakeholders to position their events to complement others. This was important since there were 80 sessions in total, representing a 60% increase from last year.
Full information on the event, including recordings and photos of each session are now available on the site. “Since we’ve had such good coverage, Delegations have arranged events around it, using web-streaming podcasts, for instance, in Indonesia, Jordan and Liberia,” continued Soewarta.
"Despite certain technical issues at the venue, such as problems with Wi-Fi access and acoustics in some areas of the building, participants seem very satisfied. The main plus about the EU DevDays is the value of face- to- face social contact,” she concluded. “Talking, being challenged by people; it was a real chance to meet stakeholders and to network.”