The first day of the 2022 International Social and Behavior Change Communication Summit kicked off with greetings from Moroccan dignitaries and Summit organizers.
“Let the Summit begin!” said Jane Brown, who, as Summit co-chair, spoke on behalf of the Secretariat organizing the event to officially open the five-day event.
“The SBCC Summit is unique and extraordinary,” said Brown, of the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs. “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.
The health minister said that by focusing on strength in diversity, a conference theme, “we give full measure of the strategic and capital importance of communication in social and behavior change in order to improve the living conditions of individuals and communities around the world. Our wish is that the participants in this Summit, from different countries, have the opportunity to share experiences and propose innovative solutions, inspired by universal principles, for a better implementation and use of this approach.”
Hayar went next: “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.”
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.”