RESULTS INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE – WHAT WE LEARNED AN AUSTRALIAN PERSPECTIVE
RESULTS Australia staff members joined our colleagues from around the world at the RESULTS International Conference in Washington DC from July 22-25. Our team at the Conference was Maree Nutt, CEO, Leila Stennett, Campaigns Director, Mark Rice Policy and Advocacy Manager and Monique McDonell, Media and Communications Manager. On the eve of the Conference, the team attended a one day meeting with members of our ACTION Partners to plan the next steps on how we can work together on issues of global health and nutrition.
The Conference attracted over 600 delegates from around the world who attended over 50 plenaries, workshops and events both domestic and global poverty issues on such wide-ranging topics as; from Activism for Health Equity, to Growing the Movement: How to Start a RESULTS Chapter and Engaging with the World Bank: Opportunities and Challenges in Global Development.
They were long action and information-packed days with the Australian team spreading out to cover as much ground on as many topics relevant to RESULTS Australia’s issues and organisational goals as possible. The sessions inspired us for a range of reasons from the personal stories speakers told, or the new information that we can use in our campaigns while others sparked new ideas or reminded us of the impact and importance of the work that we do. Our team members discuss their highlights and learnings from the event below.
Inspiring Leaders and Stories
The Plenary Session: Going the Last Mile where Joanne Carter, Executive Director of RESULTS US spoke with Sir Fazle Abed (founder of BRAC) and Dr Jim Kim (World Bank President) was a highlight for both Mark and Maree.
“It showed how the people in charge of large institutions set, or support, huge goals and innovative approaches, and are willing to challenge other people’s views of what is possible. For example, Dr Kim referred to supporting the goal for Rwanda of ending stunting for children up to the age of 2 within three years, which is a much shorter timetable than most people believe is possible. Dr Kim also said ‘There is no such thing as a hopeless person or country’.”
Leila found the Session on new technologies and innovation in health Out of the Lab and Into the World: Breakthrough in Global Health Innovation of particular interest. Among the speakers was Dr Rajneesh Tanjela, from the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development talking about innovations in paediatric TB drugs.
“He was so interesting because he was both a scientist and a survivor of multi-drug resistant TB and he was working on among other things a program with Pepsi to make TB drugs for children taste better. He was a very captivating speaker who had a really great way of framing conversation around investment in finding better tools to fight TB.”
Another of Leila’s takeaways was how things that we consider quite technical, dense and complex can be narrowed down with a simple yet interesting narrative.
“I think this is really a skill we can develop when talking to our own volunteers and also in our advocacy work.”
The way we use language and the sessions involving the media were highlights for Monique.
“I attended a session on the Global Partnership for Education where Michael Gerson, now a Washington Post journalist and a former speechwriter for President Bush presented. The way he spoke and his beautifully written prose was a reminder about the importance of well crafted language and how it can move people to action.”
She found similar inspiration at The Plenary Session: What’s New, What’s Not and Why It Matters and the follow up session Working with the Local Media.
“They were all really passionate speakers committed to excellence in journalism and storytelling in the age of fake news. The Local Media session also gave lots of concrete examples of how people should work with their local media which I found both practical and inspiring with lots of application for our volunteer advocates.”
Maree found the session with Sam Daley-Harris, RESULTS founder, on Parliamentary Champion building and moving politicians up the Champion Scale another really useful.
“It was amazing to see how many actions individuals had taken in dealing with their local politicians to move them from a place of neutrality to being a champion on an issue – they were without fail both tenacious and persistent. Later when I heard Nick Herbert speak he talked about how those sorts of community members who were respectful and passionate always got his time and attention.”
Challenging times bringing out the best in RESULTS people
Everyone agreed it was both an interesting and challenging time to live in the US from a domestic perspective.
“I drew a lot of inspiration inspiration from the US volunteers during time of huge political turmoil and threats to domestic and international funding,” says Maree.
The United States is experiencing interest by members of the public in taking action and influencing political decisions, and RESULTS US seems to be capitalising on this by providing people with specific action or support to channel what might be unfocused worry or anger explained Mark.
“While countries such as Australia may not be experiencing quite the same level of public unrest, we also have an opportunity to provide people who want to make change with a way of taking specific, constructive action.”
Nowhere was this more evident than on Lobby Day, the final day of the conference.
“The morning on Capitol Hill in the Kennedy Room was a really amazing thing to witness. It was really inspiring to be in that room for the kick-off- which was held in the Kennedy Room where John F. Kennedy announced his run for President and where the McCarthy Trials also took place . It was the day that the US government was voting on their Health Care Bill so it felt like we were witness to a moment in history. Listening to the speakers who included the Chair of the Global TB Forum, The Rt Hon Nick Herbert, and Senator Sherrod Brown (D–OH) and Senator Susan Collins (R–ME) was amazing as was seeing the energy and passion of the advocates who then went off to hold over 300 meetings during the day – that was really quite something,” said Monique.
Congressional and World Bank meetings that matter
Meanwhile the RESULTS team went off to a series of very successful meetings at the World Bank, The Australian Embassy.
“Having our World Bank Executive Director and Minister Counsellor for Development at the Australian Embassy give us more time than we had originally scheduled for our meetings, and being ready with responses or points to discuss based on the agenda and notes we had sent for the meetings, was very encouraging,” says Mark.
“The opportunity to meet face to face with our international colleagues from around the globe can’t be underestimated,’ said Leila. “We’re all working in the same issues from TB to polio to stunting and gaining their insight and perspective is invaluable as we all work together to tackle these major issues.
If you’d like to experience it first-hand the RESULTS International Conference 2018 is tentatively scheduled for 14-17 July. We urge you to ‘save the date’ and join us!