Austrian "media splash" for development cooperation
In the wake of the financial crisis 2008, capital flows from industrial countries to developing regions dropped from four to two percent of GDP within two years. Especially Europe with its Euro crisis has other worries and the global battle against hunger is in danger of getting stuck.
The IFC, the International Finance Corporation of the Word Bank Group, in the name of 32 leading development organization took the initiative to define a new framework for cooperation with private enterprises in developing countries. The goal: getting the same effect with fewer resources.
In November 2011 the European Union joined the World Bank initiative and formulated an "Agenda for Change", a strategy mainly based on the IFC recommendations. On May 14, 2012 EU-Commissioner Andris Pichales, in charge of development cooperation, announced that the EU member states support this new "Agenda for Change".
However: a strategic decision by international development organizations and the European Union does not automatically mean public acceptance. Europe's politicians and people need to be reminded to not forget development cooperation even in times of the Euro crisis. There is a need to explain how the factual-technical IFI report matters for Europe and its populations.
The project goals:
The IFC decided to generate interest for the topic by organizing expert discussions in three European capitals ( Berlin, Paris, and Vienna) But the topic is highly complex, not fitting to the ongoing Euro crisis quarrels and some editorial departments consider it a "non-topic". In this situation Bauer PR was contacted via the IFC Public Affairs partner in Brussels, Cambre and asked to organize a public event in Vienna with Europe-wide effect.
First, invitations for journalists to the expert meeting planned for Vienna, together with Austrian parliamentarians and development experts, were considered. In-depth briefings for individual media representatives were also discussed. Finally, Bauer PR suggested the organization of a classical press briefing to for the first time present in German the already published report of the 32 development organizations and show it in the context of the current Euro crisis and the resulting budget restrictions in Austria and Europe.
The Austrian Ministry of Finance, together with the Austrian Development Bank organizer of the expert meeting and in charge of Austria's participation in international financial bodies (World Bank, EBRD, etc.) was won for this approach. The presentation was coordinated in joint action of the participating organizations.
On purpose, the press briefing was not put in direct context with the expert meeting, but was organized on the morning of the evening meeting.
Communicators at the press briefing were not participants of the evening¹s strategy discussion, but rather representatives of the IFC, the Finance ministry and the Austrian Development Bank. They put forward to the media how Austria reacts to the findings of the IFI report on development cooperation. The representative of the Austrian Finance Ministry, for example, pointed to the importance of projects in the Balkan and Eastern Europe for Austria and its extensive banking network in those countries.
Overall, the media representatives could be shown the relevance of the IFI report, put together by the IFC, for Austria.
The Austrian press reaction was very positive. The media explained to the Austrian public why, how, and where Austria will contribute to international
development cooperation through the IFC or the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in spite of scarce budgets.
International news agencies picked up the information and carried it to the European capitals. For the IFC this public presentation in Vienna was an important step in gaining public acceptance in Europe, leading to stronger political support for the IFC strategy, while the Austrian Finance Ministry succeeded in reaching a more factual discussion reflecting the ministries interests in a topic often dominated by the demands of NGOs.